Becky Hammon seized a huge opportunity recently. After spending eight years as an assistant coach with Tottenham, she decided to take it to the next level, accepting a key position as a head coach with the Las Vegas Ace.
To say the risk paid off would be an understatement, as she was named Coach of the Year and led her team to the WNBA Finals.
In hindsight, Hammon’s success appears to have been almost predestined, but the move came with a lot of scrutiny at the time. Hammon has interviewed many NBA teams but Sometimes she even felt that they never thought of her seriously, And as Greg Popovich’s training continued, her path to the big chair was blocked. Other WNBA teams reportedly reached out, but declined until she received an offer that allegedly made her the highest-paid coach in the league and provided her front office input. Her declared salary He didn’t do well with some WNBA stars. While she had clearly shown her worth before, there were plenty of eyes on her as a junior coach to see if she was worth the hype.
No one should doubt now.
Hammon’s first challenge with the Aces was to update the attack, which had finished last by a mile in three-point attempts the year prior to her arrival. This season, they have had the third highest number of outside shots in the league while maintaining their efficiency. With the team’s second-best player and third-best scorer in 2021, Liz Cambage, Hammon had to power up superstars Kelsey Plum and A’ja Wilson, and they did just that. Wilson won her second MVP of the season while Bloom made her first All-Star Team. Hammon also promoted 2021 sixth woman of the year Derica Hembrey to a full-time starter, and the forward made the All-Star Game for the second time. Rookie goalkeeper Jackie Young won the Most Improved Player and earned her first All-Star nod, while Chelsea Gray remained a great captain on the field who took care of preparing other players.
The Aces were brimming with talent, but Hammon proved great at managing it, and the success of the regular season, as Las Vegas tied for the league’s best record, translated into the post-season. The Aces easily managed to send an exhausted and recently conquered Mercury Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird and Seattle Storm into the conference semi-finals. Now they will fight the Connecticut Sun, and they are a favorite. Hammon will likely lead the Aces to the first title in franchise history as a junior coach.
For some Spurs fans, Hamon’s success can be bittersweet. She had been with the franchise for a long time and seemed like a fantastic potential successor to Bob, the kind of hiring that would signal the interest in continuity that characterized Spurs while also showing that they were looking for market inefficiencies by sourcing talent from others that were overlooked, just as they did in Past by exploring Europe. It didn’t hurt that Hamon was also liked by most people. A San Antonio basketball legend after her time as an all-star player, she coached a very interesting summer league team at Tottenham for a title, and she legitimately looks like a real good guy. It’s totally understandable that you’d want someone with those qualifications to stick as hard as possible, but there’s no reason to be happy with anything but Hammon and cheer her up, even if you’re not in San Antonio anymore. It is worth it.
After dealing with some questionable hiring practices from NBA teams, watching the Aces franchise valued her for her skills, and thus being rewarded for that confidence, is heartening. Hammon handled the scrutiny that came with being her first full-time coach with honor, and did the same with all the questions that came with her move to W, so it’s impossible to be anything but impressed with her character. From a more self-serving point of view for Spurs followers, its success is also a good thing for the franchise. Anyone coming from the Popovich training tree doing well makes his place on the bench at AT&T a much more sought-after young coaching talent. And for those still hoping that Hammon will take over Bob when he’s gone, it would be a good idea for her to check the “WNBA Title” box as soon as possible.
Hammon was a fantastic player to the stars and a great assistant to Spurs. Her way has led her somewhere else for now, and it’s good to see that she’s still thriving, especially after enduring some bad experiences. I hope she finds her way to San Antonio, but for now, you should know that the city and fans of the teams she helped make are still rooting for her. For the next few days, we’re all fans of the Aces, because we’re all Becky Hammon fans.
Game 1 of the WNBA Finals will be played today at 2 PM CST and will be broadcast on ABC.