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Sports & Rec

Becky Hammon’s Journey Leads To Familiar Territory

74ae315aa9_Becky Hammon New Coach.jpg
NPR

Becky Hammon has had an inspiring journey — from her high school days in Rapid City, to playing college ball in Colorado, having a sixteen year career in the WNBA, and to being an assistant coach for the last eight seasons in the NBA.

Most of those connected with the National Basketball Association have felt Hammon would soon be the first female head coach in league history, but right before New Year’s Eve, it was announced that she had agreed to a contract to become the highest paid head coach in the Women’s National Basketball Association for the Las Vegas Aces.

Hammon has had interviews for head coaching jobs within the NBA over the last few offseason’s, but at the end of the day, those teams she interviewed with went a different route in hiring a male to be their coach instead.

During her now eight seasons as an assistant coach for the Spurs, she’s had a few historic moments to add to her resume. Hammon was the first full-time woman assistant coach in NBA history and in 2015 became the first female to head coach an NBA team during the summer league. The Spurs won the league title that summer as well under her watch. And just this past season, when Gregg Popovich was ejected from a game, Hammon became the first acting female head coach in NBA history.

Fast forward to today and she’s destined to become the highest paid head coach in WNBA history with an impressive five-year deal.

Las Vegas Aces owner Mark Davis, whose family also owns the Las Vegas Raiders, spoke on behalf of his excitement.

The Aces have been in Las Vegas since 2018, but before that they were located in Texas as the San Antonio Stars — the same franchise that Hammon played for from 2007-14. The franchise retired her No. 25 number in the summer of 2016 to commemorate her career with the team.

Hammon grew up playing basketball in Rapid City, South Dakota and played high school ball at Stevens. She was named South Dakota Miss Basketball as a junior and voted South Dakota’s Player of the Year as a senior.

After she graduated from Stevens high school in the spring of 1995, which was well before the state of South Dakota had a division one college basketball program, Hammon moved to Fort Collins to play college hoops for Colorado State. She was a three-time All-American scorer for the Rams. Hammon also earned numerous conference honors as well. Her No. 25 number has also since been retired by Colorado State.

Despite going undrafted to the WNBA, the New York Liberty signed Hammon, and she would play eight seasons for them. She was traded to San Antonio in 2007 where she remained for the next eight seasons, before retiring. Hammon played 450 games in the WNBA. She scored 5,841 points, had 1,708 assists, recorded 1,111 rebounds, and pegged 488 steals in her decorated playing career.

Now after spending the last eight seasons as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, Hammon is returning to the WNBA, a place where she spent more than a decade and a half playing professional basketball, to head coach a team of her own.

Despite going back to the WNBA rather than getting a head coaching job in the NBA, some feel that moment could still be in Becky’s future.