Gregg Popovich commends Becky Hammon, explains her hiring
If you didn't believe it before, believe it now: Becky Hammon has the Gregg Popovich seal of approval.
Hammon made history this summer in leading the Spurs to a Summer League title. Even more heartening: She did so in a way consistent with the Spurs brand. No distractions, no discipline problems, no backlash from the young players under her guidance — just wins.
But for all the history Hammon has made in becoming the first female coach in the league, Popovich wants to make this clear: She's not on his staff so she can make history. Hammon is on his staff because she makes good decisions, which makes for a good coach.
Popovich discussed Hammon's credentials in a radio interview with KNBR of the San Francisco Bay Area. His comments, as transcribed by ESPN, offer more insight than Popovich usually gives to the media about his decision making.
Why the rare look inside the Spurs head coach's beautiful mind? Probably because he understands the importance of making this point:
"I don't even look at it as, well, she's the first female this and that and the other," Popovich said. "She's a coach, and she's good at it. I think some people thought this was some kind of gimmick or we were just trying to be cool. I'm glad she's there. I respect her opinion."
Popovich also explained how the hire of Hammond came to pass.
"I hired her because she was in my coaches meetings for an entire year because she was injured," he said. "She's got opinions and solid notions about basketball. Obviously, she was a great player. As a point guard, she's a leader, she's fiery, she's got intelligence, and our guys just respected the heck out of her, so she's coaching with us, she's running drills. That's why we made her a full-time coach and gave her the opportunity to coach at summer league."
Perhaps that faith portends well for Hammon's future — a future that may not stop at Summer League titles. It's not a bad look to be a praised Popovich protégé. From the Hawks' Mike Budenholzer to the 76ers' Brett Brown, those disciples have a way of finding their own NBA teams to lead.
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