When Greg Popovich missed the Spurs match versus the Charlotte Hornets to attend to what his team termed as “personal business”. Spurs legend Tim Duncan was the stand in coach for that game and led the Spurs to a win clawing back from a seventeen-point deficit early on. There were a lot of questions levelled at why Becky Hammond who has been on Popovich’s coaching staff longer didn’t get a chance to stand in even for the solitary game.
Handing the keys to Becky Hammon will not just be about making history. Hammon has earned the chance to take over for Popovich and outside of that to coach any team in the league. After suffering a cruciate ligament injury playing in the WNBA, Hammon began experimenting with coaching in 2013 with the Spurs and was hire as a fulltime assistant from 2014. The following year she became the first female to be a head coach in the NBA’s Summer League where she won the title, a first for a female head coach. In 2016, she became the first female coach to be assigned to a coaching staff at the NBA All-Star Game. In 2017, she was one of the candidates interviewed for the general manager position of the Milwaukee Bucks though she was unsuccessful this speaks to her level in the game.
So, it came as a surprise when an experienced assistant was pipped to the top job by someone eight months into their coaching career. At this stage it looks inevitable that Tim Duncan will replace Greg Popovich, unless some sort of pressure gets the Spurs to reconsider their decision. That said the Spurs have missed an opportunity to award a deserving candidate a position that she is more than capable of filling, and that’s not just my opinion see Pau Gasol’s thoughts on women in the game https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/pau-gasol-becky-hammon. A classic case of misogyny in sports once again? I can not say but I really feel that this would have been a great opportunity to go against the mould and break barriers for women in sport worldwide.
If Tim Duncan was to put up his hand and state that he would like to coach in the league, he would have some suitors who would be willing to give him an interview, but the same can’t be said for Becky Hammon.