It is time to throw away the American inferiority complex with its place in the sport, where many blindly claim that technique should come above all in choosing and developing the best prospects and that the U.S. is not an international power because it cares too much about athleticism.
Far Fetched Friday: Becky Hammon Will Become the First Female Head Coach
By: Jake Lofgren
Welcome back to Far Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This week our Far Fetched Friday is one we hope to see come true relatively soon, and that is to see Becky Hammon become the first female head coach of a men's professional team.
Having made the playoffs every single year after Gregg Popvich's first season in 1996-97, the Spurs currently find themselves four games back from the 8th seed with a 26-34 record. The playoffs are still very achievable for the Spurs, but it's looking more and more likely that their unbelievable playoff run could come to an end. Now that their playoff streak could be ending and the roster looks unlikely to contend anytime soon, it begs the question if Popovich will retire and if his time in San Antonio is coming to an end.
The culture Popovich has built with the Spurs is nothing short of remarkable, and losing a Hall-of-Fame coach like him may influence the Spurs to hire an in-house candidate who understands the identity. Someone who will surely receive an interview is San Antonio's longest serving assistant, Becky Hammon. She is currently in her sixth season as an assistant for the Spurs, and has already been the first female head coach for a summer league team in 2015, 2016, and 2019, which includes a summer league championship in 2015. There is no doubt that Hammon's resume is enough to be a strong candidate for the Spurs job once Popovich is gone, but it also places her in contention for a head coaching job at other organizations, if the Spurs choose to go with Tim Duncan.
The biggest argument against female coaches, let alone head coaches, has always been that they were not qualified or experienced enough to do the job. While in the past this may have been arguable, this is certainly not the case with Hammon and is not going to be a sufficient argument for many other women in the future. Hammon comes from a professional basketball background herself after being in the WNBA for 16 seasons, making four All-WNBA teams and six all-star appearances. She also already has six seasons of experience as a full time assistant. For comparison, Nick Nurse of the reigning champs, Toronto Raptors, was only an assistant for five seasons before the Raptors promoted him to head coach.
Hammon is also a member of the Gregg Popovich coaching tree. Being able to work under one of the greatest coaches of all-time is a very useful thing to have on the resume. Brett Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers, Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Jim Boylen of the Chicago Bulls are all head coaches who were once assistants under Popovich, and are only a few of the coaches who were able to work with him. This makes it very clear that other organizations value the experience of working under a future Hall-of-Famer.
The NBA is now home to 11 female assistant coaches and everyone has seen the commercial about Katie Sowers, the assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, who are all paving the path forward for women in the coaching industry. More and more women are being given coaching rules, which means more and more women are proven to be qualified for advanced roles, such as head coach. Now of course, whoever the best candidate is should be hired, and Hammon shouldn't be hired just because she is a woman. She has the experience and qualification from both playing and coaching that make her one of the top NBA coaching candidates currently available.
Popovich, at 71 years old, is currently in his first year of a three year contract, but he is entitled to manage his future however he wishes. It would make sense for Popovich to step down this summer if their playoff streak comes to an end. So, once Popovich calls it quits on his legendary coaching career this summer, expect the Spurs to make history when they hire the first female head coach ever in a professional men's sports, Becky Hammon.
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