After playing for 16 years in the Womenâ€™s National Basketball Association, San Antonio Stars guard Becky Hammon is retiring at the conclusion of the 2014 WNBA season.
In a few weeks, Hammon will break ground as the first full-time female assistant coach in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs.
However, Hammon is not the first woman in NBA coaching. Previously during the 2001-2002 NBA season the Cleveland Cavilers had Lisa Boyer assist with team trainings and some home games. Boyer was not paid though and did not travel with the team.
Hammon is also the first full-time female assistant coach in any of the four major leagues, which are the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL.
â€œIt gives young females who play basketball a role model and something to aspire to that. Prior to Becky Hammonâ€™s hiring, it was just so far removed from the realm of possibility,â€ said Jacob Tingle, assistant professor of practice in the business department.
Hammon has overcome adversity throughout her basketball career. She went undrafted after being a three-time All-American at Colorado State and suffered an ACL injury in 2013.
Hammon got close with the Spurs organization while she was recovering from her ACL injury. She began working with the coaching staffâ€”getting closer to the teamâ€”and sat on the Spurs bench during some of the Spurs games.
â€œI think sheâ€™s an excellent fit for the Spurs,â€ said Larry Ramirez, KSAT 12 sports anchor and reporter. â€œShe knows basketball probably better than a lot of men know basketball.â€
Over the past 15 years, the Spurs have been an organization that does things differently. They believe in playing basketball as a cohesive team and creating an international roster, so having a female coach is just another innovation for them.
â€œI donâ€™t think they see her as a woman. I think they see her as a good player and a person that has potential to be a good coach,â€ said Greg Simmons, KSAT 12 sports anchor and director.
The Spurs made no indication during their announcement that it was historical in nature.
They hired Hammon for her ability as a basketball player and a coach.
â€œThe Spurs hire people who are good at what they doâ€¦sheâ€™s probably really capable of doing the job sheâ€™s been hired to do,â€ said Pat Cunningham, Â head coach of the Trinity University menâ€™s basketball team.
As far as her position with the Spurs goes, â€œI see her being a good shooting coach,â€ Simmons said. â€œTony [Parker] and her could share some ideas on how to better distribute the ball to people.â€
While she may be the first, Â Simmons believes that Hammon will definitely not be the last woman to coach in the NBA.
â€œOver the years I think youâ€™re going see this more and more now, and not just in basketball. I think youâ€™re going see this in other sports as well,â€ Simmons said.
According to Hammonâ€™s biography on the WNBA website, she joined the Stars in 2007 after she was traded from the New York Liberty. She stayed with the Liberty until 2006. She then joined the Stars in 2007.
She was named one of the WNBAâ€™s Top 15 Players of All Time in July 2011; she was also named to the Starâ€™s All Decade team in 2012.
She became a naturalized Russian citizen, played for the Russian national team, and helped them earn an Olympic bronze in 2008 as well as silver at the 2009 European World Championships.
Hammon finished her career in the WNBA with the San Antonio Starsâ€™ loss to the Minnesota Lynx, 89-84, at home on last Saturday, Aug. 23 in the conference semi-finals.
Now Hammon now transition to her new full time job as assistant coach to the San Antonio Spurs.