After 16 years of playing in the WNBA, Becky Hammon will become a rookie again when the NBA season tips off this fall. No, she’s not turning back the clock. Instead, she’ll enter the upcoming season as a first-year assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. By joining the 2013-14 NBA champions, the newly retired San Antonio Silver Stars guard is also making history. Hammon will be the first full-time female member of an NBA coaching staff.
Undrafted when she started her WNBA career with the New York Liberty, Hammon wrapped up her final season as the Stars’ all-time leader in assists, points per game, and three-point field goals made. And even though fans won’t get to see her run the Stars’ offense on the court anymore, they will get to see her help draw up plays for the Spurs on the sidelines.
Last week, Hammon was in New York taking part in the WNBA’s Inspiring Women Luncheon, where she was given the Boost Mobile Pioneer Award. She spoke to SI Kids about her legacy on the court, her new gig, and what her new boss Gregg Popovich is really like.
Now that you’re retired, how would you like to be remembered?
Someone who maybe wasn’t the most talented, but got the most out of their talent. Somebody who got the best out of herself and her teammates and worked hard in their community to make an impact on people’s lives.
How hard is it to walk away from the game as a player?
It’s hard to say goodbye. Retirement is not easy, especially when you’ve been playing the game for so long. But whenever I get sad about leaving, I just look to the future. I’m excited about my new role with the Spurs. There’s a lot of good things in store. I’m looking forward to learning from the best and taking lots of notes, being a sponge and adding suggestions and pieces when it fits.
What’s on your to-do list in preparation for your new job?
There’s so many sets and terminology and names to learn. So that’s at the top of the agenda. I’m looking forward to just being acclimated and settled in with the organization as soon as possible.
Do you expect any hazing or pranks during your first year as an assistant coach in San Antonio?
I’m sure I’ll get it! I’m anxious to get in there and mix it up with the guys.
From an outsider’s view, Coach Popovich is not a man of many words and has a tough-love approach to coaching. What’s he really like?
I’m not going to be the one to let the cat out of the bag! At his core, he’s a very good person. He’s very smart and very fair minded. I’ll leave it at that!
Photo: Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images