This Woman Just Shattered One of Pro Sports’ Most Enduring Glass Ceiling
August 6, 2014 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Technically the second woman to be an assistant NBA coach, but the first to be paid for it.

(Not to take away from the fact that this is awesome, just wanted to be all pedantic and shit, because that is, apparently, how I roll...)
posted by dersins at 9:20 AM on August 6, 2014

I give precisely zero shits about basketball, but...yay!!! 🏀
posted by phunniemee at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another recent sports first for women: Catherine Conti to be first female official in Big 12 history.
Kansas coach Charlie Weis says because of Ms. Conti, he will try not to swear as much.

Actually, Coach Weis, equality means curse away.
I don't follow sports, but I found John Oliver's summary of the sports vs. news coverage of the first openly-gay player in the NFL draft enlightening: sports coverage only talked about Michael Sam's abilities as a player, and even had the same bland "he is so excited, surrounded by his family and loved ones" when Sam kissed his boyfriend.

What is the sports coverage of this news?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:29 AM on August 6, 2014

The NBA does a better job (PDF) of hiring women and minorities (very good Slate essay) than any other sports league in the U.S.
posted by oddman at 9:33 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Been a lakers fan my entire life but have to say the Sours are one amazing organization. They do everything right and don't brag or boast about it.
posted by chaz at 9:37 AM on August 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

What is the sports coverage of this news?

It's hardly a comprehensive sample, but from the bits I've listened to of Austin's sports radio station the coverage is basically "Okay, is she any good? She is? Great hire, she'll go far if she sticks, Popovich is a genius."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:45 AM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Been a lakers fan my entire life but have to say the Sours are one amazing organization.

Is Sours a typo? Either way, I can't believe I haven't heard it before.
posted by mullacc at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

What is the sports coverage of this news?

Just another point guard with zero coaching experience bypassing the normal path to becoming an NBA coach because ~court vision~.
posted by acidic at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I wonder if the pay for an assistant NBA coach is better than the pay for an NCAA women's head coach at a smaller school.
posted by smackfu at 10:14 AM on August 6, 2014

I love my Spurs. I've been hoping this would happen since she worked as a volunteer with the team during the WNBA off season as she recovered from an injury. Here's some video from March that includes team reaction to her.

Becky is the first full time female paid coach in any of the 4 major sports in the US. Not to diminish what coach Bowyer accomplished, but she was not paid by the Cavs and didn't travel with the team. Becky is being brought in to improve a depleted assistant coach pool and is looked at as filling a very important team need. It's a very different thing.

There are many things I love about this. First of all: Yay! A woman breaking through a barrier!! More importantly for the long term is that she is really being set up for success. The Spurs are all about a team culture that insists on no drama, no egos and "getting over" oneself. They are also the defending champs who had a great off season. She's not going to a situation where there will be whispers and fingers pointed if things go badly for the team.

She played for the San Antonio Stars for many years which is owned by the same ownership group that owns the Spurs. They know and respect her and she seems excited to be an assistant for one of the best coaches in NBA history who has a history of having his coaches become head coaches elsewhere. Also, the two teams run some of the same plays, so the learning curve won't be quite as steep as it might be elsewhere.

It's pretty well known that no major decision gets made without approval from The Big Three. (Duncan, Parker and Ginóbili) She knows them well and they support this decision or she wouldn't be there.

The most common reaction that I saw on NBA twitter yesterday was, "The Spurs are Spursing." Meaning that they thought outside the box, found an awesome talent that other teams would not have even looked at (See: Parker, Tony and Ginóbili, Manu.) and will probably be very successful with the move.

One of the main Spurs blogs is Pounding the Rock and they posted a couple of articles about it yesterday if you're looking for fan reaction. If you read the comments, green comments are ones that have been the equivalent of favorited a lot.

Here's an article on it from Esquire that discussed the fact that the Spurs didn't note that she was a woman in the announcement.
posted by colt45 at 10:42 AM on August 6, 2014 [9 favorites]

If you can't watch the video of her previous time with the Spurs, Here's a good article about it.
posted by colt45 at 10:45 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is Sours a typo? Either way, I can't believe I haven't heard it before.

Same. If it's a typo, it's still fitting given Pop's disposition with fools. Hard not to love him and the throwback team he's created.
posted by yerfatma at 10:47 AM on August 6, 2014

As my friend asked: What will the players think about taking direction from someone younger than them?

Joking aside, I love that this was done by the best team in the league. It makes it much harder for wags to try to make it a question of whether she can get the job done. The Spurs can safely say that they know more about winning basketball games than anybody else does, and that Hammon was the right fit for them (which she totally is, BTW--the Spurs fundamentals and team-focus are more like a WNBA team than anything, really.)
posted by Navelgazer at 10:59 AM on August 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

My new hometown does good!
posted by sotonohito at 11:04 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

filthy light thief: "Kansas coach Charlie Weis says because of Ms. Conti, he will try not to swear as much."

That was probably a joke. Because a) all of Weis's jokes are lame clunkers like that and b) he is not shy about dropping the f-bombs in front of the lady-types (press, student managers, etc.) when he's in an f-bomb sort of mood. He probably thought it was a dumb question and his long-time strategy is to answer dumb questions with lame jokes because he's not good at bullshitting through them with platitudes, and PR gets upset if you tell the press their question is stupid or irrelevant. Press who cover him get used to wincing at his lame jokes that sound like he stole them from a 70s sitcom.

It's like someone told him a long time ago that football coaches are supposed to have a bluff camaraderie in public, a hail-fellow-well-met attitude, and since he doesn't really do that, he substitutes sitcom jokes instead. On the flip side, he's pretty freaking entertaining when he DOES tell someone their question is stupid.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:06 AM on August 6, 2014

Spurs can't stop winning. (Grantland)
posted by bukvich at 11:20 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's worth noting that Kobe Bryant alone makes nearly three times as much in a season as the entire payroll for players in the WNBA. I am hoping that, as an assistant coach in the NBA, she will at least make a better salary than she did playing basketball.
posted by Anitanola at 11:21 AM on August 6, 2014

I interviewed Hammon several times at the London Olympics and she's of the most interesting athletes I've ever met: super-smart, friendly, confident, crazy high basketball IQ. I'm no expert, but this seems like another great decision by Popovich, who told Hammon she was hired for her skills and that 'it just so happens you're a woman.'

Someone on Twitter noted yesterday that Popovich is what Phil Jackson claims to be: a progressive innovator. Except Pop gives exactly zero fucks about being perceived as an innovator.
posted by kalimotxero at 11:27 AM on August 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

GO Spurs GO!! This is awesome news. This makes me love my Spurs even more.
posted by Benway at 11:30 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

(not an assistant, but the sole head coach/manager)
posted by modernnomad at 11:48 AM on August 6, 2014

Yeah, but Diacre's appointment has hints of being a publicity stunt after Helena Costa, Claremont's original appointment, quit after a day of training left her feeling they hired her just as a "face".

The great thing about Hammon's hiring is that it really seems to be about her abilities as a coach first.
posted by kendrak at 11:53 AM on August 6, 2014

Hats off to Hammond, Spurs, the NBA, progressive thinking, women's validation in the athletic arena. Gosh, is it NBA season yet? I can't wait.

A Popovich quote from that Grantland link above:
“She knows when to speak, and she knows when to shut up. A lot of people don’t figure that out.”
Out of context, that quote is horrifyingly inappropriate. The fact that (I suspect) most every NBA fan understands right away that Popovich is offering a candid assessment of her ability to grasp a key nuance of a leadership role is, to me, a testament to the consistent excellent of the Spurs organization.

Put that quote in the mouth of, say, Dave Joerger or Mike D'Antoni or (gasp) Dan Gilbert and you have a PR nightmare. Popovich (and the whole Spurs organization, really) has that gravitas to re-define the context.
posted by Theophrastus Johnson at 12:25 PM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Every sports fan knows the worst kind of fan is a bandwagon jumper, but I just became one anyway. Hell yeah Hammon!! Go Spurs!

(Public notice of potential disloyalty: I may divide loyalties when the first black woman becomes an NBA coach, unless she's also a Spurs hire)
posted by epj at 2:14 PM on August 6, 2014

-the Spurs fundamentals and team-focus are more like a WNBA team than anything, really.)

Or like a European team, no? I haven't got a clue why no NBA club thought Obradovic would be worth a try (8 Euroleagues, can stick with a club and good at developing talent). Good on the Spurs for focusing on skills rather than gender/nationality.
posted by ersatz at 5:15 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am so excited about this news. Becky Hammon played for my local college team, then for the local (and short-lived) National Women's Basketball League team. We were devastated at all the backlash she received for the 2008 Olympics when she didn't qualify for the American team and played for the Russians instead (she got similar criticism in 2012, though not quite as intense).
posted by lilac girl at 11:26 PM on August 6, 2014

This makes me wish I liked watching sports, because the Spurs would be my new favorite team. I mean… the comments were worth reading! People who tried to steer discussion to her appearance got told quite eloquently why that was inappropriate! And I hadn't even noticed until the Esquire post pointed it out, but the Spurs not even mentioning her gender in the announcement is awesome in a quiet kind of way.
posted by Lexica at 7:09 PM on August 8, 2014

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