Spurs hire NBA's first full-time female asst. coach Becky Hammon - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Spurs hire NBA's first full-time female asst. coach Becky Hammon

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Becky Hammon became the first full time assistant coach of a major professional sports team on Tuesday. (Source: KSAT/CNN) Becky Hammon became the first full time assistant coach of a major professional sports team on Tuesday. (Source: KSAT/CNN)

SAN ANTONIO (RNN) – The reigning NBA champion San Antonio Spurs hired the league’s first full-time, paid female assistant coach, longtime WNBA star Becky Hammon.

Hammon, a 16-year veteran of the WNBA, currently plays with the San Antonio Silver Stars and ranks among the best players in the league. She announced July 23 she would retire at the end of the season.

“I’m just incredibly grateful to the Spurs organization and Coach [Gregg] Popovich, and the whole staff really has been so great to me,” Hammon said during a press conference Tuesday. “As great as this opportunity is, it’s really humbling. The two driving forces is just thankful and humbled.”

Named as one of the WNBA’s Top 15 players in league history in July 2011, Hammon, 37, currently ranks seventh in the league in points, sixth in games, fourth in assists and was a six-time WNBA All-Star.

A native of South Dakota, Hammon also became a naturalized citizen of Russia in 2008, playing on their national teams in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, according to the New York Times. 

An undrafted free agent after the 1999 WNBA Draft, Hammon was signed by the New York Liberty before she was traded to San Antonio in 2007. She was a three-time All American at Colorado State. 

As for being hired as the first woman on a team’s coaching staff, Hammon said “it’s more about my basketball IQ” but said being the first woman is humbling.

Hammon is not the first woman to work for an NBA team.

Lisa Boyer worked on John Lucas’s staff of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2001-02, but did not travel with the team, was not paid by the Cavs but by the WNBA'S Cleveland Rockets and was never formally a member of the staff, according to ESPN.  She is now the associate head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team.

“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Popovich said in a press release. “Having observed her working with our team this past season, I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.”

The hiring of Hammon is a significant move for male-dominated mainstream sports. Professional basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman called the move "a glorious day for the NBA and an awesome day for women."

The hire has been a big hit with sports fans, especially on Twitter, with many tweeting congratulations to her. 

Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant tweeted "Big fan of Becky since she was in college. Very bright basketball mind,"

“Growing up I remember asking my dad, ‘Hey will I ever play in the NBA?’ At that point, there was no WNBA and I was 7 or 8 years old,” Hammon said. “I didn't know anything about college scholarships or [playing] overseas, but he said, ‘No, sweetie, you’ll never be able to play in the NBA, but if you’re really, really good, maybe you can get a college scholarship.' I have to call him up and say, ‘You never said coaching.'”

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