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On the Brink

No Women Coaches In The NBA? Yeah, Becky Hammon Changed That.

No Women Coaches In The NBA? Yeah, Becky Hammon Changed That.

Becky HammonPhoto courtesy of Texas Monthly

"We didn't hire Becky to make history," Popovich said. "She earned it."

When Becky Hammon joined the San Antonio Spurs pro basketball team as an assistant coach in 2014—the first woman in NBA history to hold this position—Barack Obama congratulated her on Twitter. Boy, have times changed!

And when the Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected from a December 30th game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Hammon replaced him to become the first woman to act as head coach in a regular-season NBA game. More change!

Barriers being broken, glass ceilings being smashed

Move over boys. Women in business, in sports, and in almost any industry you can name are proving that they deserve a seat at the table.

"Hammon’s success with the Spurs has already been followed by more women getting opportunities in pro sports leagues where the players are men," says Texas Monthly, "and history tells us that when those initial barriers are broken, other changes tend to follow." Although it took 63 years for Jackie Robinson to become the first African American player in Major League Baseball, it only took Larry Doby three months to become the second. Let's hope this holds true for women trailblazers, too.

As a trailblazing woman myself, I am thrilled to read what Coach Popovich, Hammon's boss, said to ESPN regarding her hiring: "She is qualified. She's wonderful at what she does. I wanted her on my staff because of the work that she does. And she happens to be a woman, which basically should be irrelevant but it's not in our world, as we've seen as it's been so difficult for women to obtain certain positions. It was business as usual for us."

Popovich went on to say, "Women do the same jobs as well and better than men. That's a fact. There's no reason why somebody like Becky and other women can't be coaches in the NBA. There are many, many, many qualified women who are being held back. And it's just the nature of the world. It's slowly changing, but the sooner the better," he said.

Personally, I wish the world would change for women faster, but still, change is change.

Hammon's impressive stats (from NBA.com)

  • currently in her sixth season as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs
  • promoted to the front of the bench in June 2018
  • served as the head coach of the Spurs Las Vegas Summer League in 2015, 2016 and 2019
  • guided the 2015 squad to the summer league championship
  • retired from the WNBA following the 2014 season after a 16-year playing career
  • played eight seasons for the San Antonio Stars (2007-14) and eight seasons for the New York Liberty (1999-2006)
  • in WNBA history, she ranks second in free-throw percentage, fourth in three-point field goals made, fifth in assists, 12th in total points, 12th in games played, 15th in free throws made, 15th in total minutes and 19th in field goals made
  • ended her career as the San Antonio Stars all-time leader in assists, points per game and three-point field goals made
  • selected as one of the WNBA’s Top20@20, an honor given to the WNBA’s 20 greatest and most influential players in the league’s 20 year history
  • named one of the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of all time in 2011
  • voted to the All-WNBA First Team twice and to the All-WNBA Second Team twice
  • a six-time WNBA All-Star
  • was the top vote-getter for the Stars All-Decade Team in 2012
  • in 2008, led the San Antonio Stars to their only WNBA Finals appearance in franchise history
  • played collegiately at Colorado State (1995-99) where she was a three-time All-American and the 1999 Naismith Award winner
  • inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2018

More stories of women successfuly breaking into male-dominated worlds

Join me for my virtual book launch party February 16th!

Rethink book-3On February 16, 2021 at 7pm EST/4pm PT, please join me to celebrate the debut of my new book, "Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business," and to recognize what we all can accomplish when we refuse to listen to voices telling us we can't. What a great time to celebrate women in business and women leaders everywhere who are pushing forward, smashing glass ceilings, hurdling over brick walls and making it a great world for women. Register here.

From Observation to Innovation,

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Andi Simon, Ph.D.
Corporate Anthropologist | CEO | Author
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Simon Associates Management Consultants

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On Jan 5, 2021 6:00:00 AM

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