Becky Hammon

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Becky Hammon
Becky Hammon.jpg
Becky Hammon in 2002
San Antonio Spurs
Assistant coach
Personal information
Born (1977-03-11) March 11, 1977 (age 37)
Rapid City, South Dakota
Nationality American/Russian
Career information
High school Stevens (Rapid City, South Dakota)
College Colorado State
Coaching career 2014–present
Career history
As coach:
2014–present San Antonio Spurs (assistant)

Rebecca Lynn "Becky" Hammon (born March 11, 1977) is an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association and a retired professional basketball player. Hammon played for the San Antonio Stars and New York Liberty of the Women's National Basketball Association. She also played for multiple basketball teams outside of the United States. Hammon, who was born and grew up in the United States, became a naturalized Russian citizen in 2008 and represented the Russian national team in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

On August 5, 2014, Hammon was hired by the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach, becoming the second female assistant coach in NBA history but the first full-time assistant coach.[1] This also makes her the first full-time female assistant coach in in any of the four major professional sports in North America.[1]

Biography[edit]

Rebecca "Becky" Hammon was born on March 11, 1977, in Rapid City, South Dakota, the daughter of Martin and Bev Hammon. She has one brother and one sister.

Hammon played high school basketball at Stevens High School in her hometown of Rapid City, South Dakota. As a junior, she was South Dakota Miss Basketball. As a senior, she was voted the South Dakota Player of the Year after averaging 26 points, 4 rebounds and 5 steals per game. Also that year, she was voted female class athlete by her graduating class.

College career[edit]

Hammon's prolific scoring for the Colorado State Rams made her an All-American as well as Colorado Sportswoman of the Year. She led her team to a 33–3 record in the 1998–1999 season and helped them advance to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen. She was named the WAC Mountain Division player of the year for the 1998–1999 season and surpassed University of Utah player Keith Van Horn as the WAC's all-time leading scorer.

Hammon set many Colorado State all-time records, including points (2740), points per game (21.92), field goals made (918), free throws made (539), three-point field goals made (365) and assists (538). She received the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association as the best senior player under 5 ft 8 in (1.7 m) in 1999.[2]

On November 12, 2004, Hammon was inducted into the Colorado State University Sports Hall of Fame. On January 22, 2005, her number 25 Colorado State jersey was retired at the Moby Arena.

Professional career[edit]

Becky Hammon
Point guard
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Weight 136 lb (62 kg)
WNBA career 1999–2014
Non-WNBA career 2001–2012
Profile WNBA player profile
WNBA teams
New York Liberty (1999–2006)
San Antonio Stars (2007–2014)
Non-WNBA teams
Trentino Rovereto Basket (2001–2002)
Rivas Ecópolis (2006–2007)
CSKA Moscow (2007–2009)
Ros Casares Valencia (2009–2010)
Orenburg (2010–2011)
Spartak (2011–2012)
Awards and honors

WNBA All-Star (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011)

2x All-WNBA First Team (2007, 2009)
2x All-WNBA Second Team (2005, 2008)
Voted one of the Top 15 WNBA Players of All Time

WNBA[edit]

Undrafted during her rookie season, Hammon was signed to the WNBA on May 12, 1999 and joined the New York Liberty. She had a solid rookie season statistically, backing up starting point guard Teresa Weatherspoon. Her aggressive play at both ends of the court made her a favorite among Liberty fans. After the 2003 season, Hammon took over for Weatherspoon as the Liberty's starting point guard and, with Vickie Johnson and Crystal Robinson, became one of the team's co-captains in 2004.

In her first season in 2003 with the Tennessee Fury of the National Women's Basketball League (NWBL), Hammon led the league in scoring, averaging 20.6 points per game. In 2004, Hammon signed with the Colorado Chill, a new team in the NWBL, but played in only two games because of a knee injury she sustained in the 2003 season when playing for the Liberty.

Primarily used to provide instant points off the bench, Hammon had a breakout season in 2003, providing much-needed offense for the Liberty. However, her season was cut short by a knee injury.

On August 16, 2005, Hammon scored her 2000th WNBA career point. At the end of the 2005 season, she was named to the All-WNBA Second Team.

In January 2007, she played her WNBA "off season" with Rivas Futura in the Spanish League.

On April 4, 2007, during the WNBA Draft, Hammon was traded to the Silver Stars, along with a second round draft pick in the 2008 draft, for the second overall first round pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft, center Jessica Davenport.

Hammon had the best season of her career in 2007, posting career high averages of 18.8 ppg (fourth best) and 5.0 apg (first in WNBA). While in San Antonio, Hammon earned the nickname, "Big Shot Becky" because of her ability to hit shots in clutch moments. It comes from the nickname "Big Shot Rob" given to San Antonio Spurs forward, Robert Horry.[3]

Hammon averaged 17.6 ppg, and 4.9 apg as she led the Silver Stars to a WNBA best record 24–10 and led them into the playoffs for a second straight year. In the conference semi-finals, Hammon scored 30 points in a Game 1 win against the Sacramento Monarchs. San Antonio would eventually win the series and advance to the Western Conference Finals. Following a loss in Game 1 and a win in Game 2, Hammon's 35 points propelled the Silver Stars to a victory in Game 3 against the Los Angeles Sparks. The Silver Stars advanced to the WNBA Finals where they were defeated by the Detroit Shock 3–0.

Hammon averaged a career-high 19.5 ppg and 5.0 apg in the 2009 WNBA season. The Silver Stars had a record of 15–19 and lost to the eventual champion Phoenix Mercury in the first round. Hammon was an All-Star as well as a first-team All-WNBA selection.

On August 31, 2011, Hammon became the seventh player in WNBA history to score 5000 points. Later in the year, Hammon scored 37 points in a playoff-clinching win against the Los Angeles Sparks.

Coaching career[edit]

On August 5, 2014, Hammon was hired as an assistant coach for the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, becoming the first full-time, salaried female coach in NBA history.[4] She had long expressed aspirations of becoming a coach after her playing career. On July 13, 2013, Hammon tore her left anterior cruciate ligament in a game against the Los Angeles Sparks. During her year-long rehabilitation, Hammon attended Spurs' practices, coaches' meetings, and games, where she was frequently invited to contribute opinions.[5]

Hammon's contribution to the staff made an impression on head coach Gregg Popovich. In a media statement released at the time of the hiring announcement, Popovich stated: "I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff. Having observed her working with our team this past season, I'm confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs."[4]

WNBA career statistics[edit]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game  RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game  BPG  Blocks per game
 PPG  Points per game  TO  Turnovers per game  FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage  Bold  Career high League leader

Regular season[edit]

Postseason[edit]

NWBL Basketball[edit]

  • Tennessee Fury (2002–2003)
  • Colorado Chill (2004–2006)

Other clubs[edit]

  • Trentino Rovereto Basket (2001–2002)
  • Rivas Ecópolis (2006–2007)
  • CSKA Moscow (2007–2009)
  • Ros Casares Valencia (2009–2010)
  • Orenburg (2010–2011)
  • Spartak (2011–2012)

Olympic basketball[edit]

Hammon was named to the team representing the United States at the 1998 William Jones Cup competition in Taipei, Taiwan. The U.S. team, coached by Nell Fortner, won all five games, earning the gold medal for the competition. Hammon scored 18 points over the five games.[6]

Decision to play for Russia[edit]

In 2008, after learning that, once again, she would not be invited to try out for the U.S. national team, Hammon announced she would try to claim a roster slot on the Russian national team in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Hammon became a Russian citizen in 2008. The coach of Russia's team, Igor Grudin, is also the sports director of the CSKA team that Hammon plays for in Moscow during the WNBA off-season. Hammon also signed a three-year extension with CSKA at around the same time she was named as a prospect for the national team.

Hammon's decision to play for Russia was controversial in American basketball.[7] In some circles she was branded an American traitor, with then-U.S. national coach Anne Donovan questioning her patriotism. "If you play in this country, live in this country, and you grow up in the heartland and you put on a Russian uniform, you are not a patriotic person in my mind," Donovan said.[8]

Hammon responded to Donovan's criticism saying, "You don't know me. You don't know what that flag means to me. You don't know how I grew up. The biggest honor in our classroom was who could put up the (American) flag, roll it up right, not let the corners touch the ground. Obviously we definitely define patriotism differently." She has also stated. "I love my country. I love our national anthem. It absolutely gives me chills sometimes. I feel honored to be an American, to be from America because of what we stand for."[8] Hammon said she played for Russia primarily to play on the Olympic stage, and it was not a purely financial decision. However, by obtaining Russian citizenship, her salary with CSKA tripled, and she was eligible to make $250,000 for winning a gold medal for Russia. She would have received a $150,000 bonus for winning a silver medal.[8]

Since then, Anne Donovan has changed her position, stating "I don't know that I have any strong thoughts on [Becky Hammon joining the Russian national team] anymore. Even at the time. I've known marathon runners in particular that I've watched over the years have represented other countries. I've watched other athletes do it."[9]

She also said

The thing that took me off guard with Becky was that it hasn't happened in women's basketball before. And again, the facts around that: that we didn't ask her to participate, that we didn't ask her to try out for our team, that's really what I had the most issue with. Becky made a great business decision and this was a great opportunity for her to get to the Olympic Games. I hold no grudge and more power to her. But the facts around it when it first came out were not accurate. Becky came, had a great experience; I'm glad we're going to the gold medal game.[9]

Hammon shot 1-for-6 from the field in a 67–52 loss to the United States in the 2008 Olympic Semifinals, but helped the Russian team to win the bronze medal by scoring 22 points against China.

She has since played for Russia at EuroBasket in 2009, the World Championship in 2010 and the Olympics in 2012.

Awards and achievements[edit]

2005

  • Jersey retired by Colorado State University
  • Won the NWBL Championship with the Colorado Chill
  • Named to All WNBA 2nd Team

2006

  • Won 2nd NWBL Championship with the Colorado Chill
  • Named NWBL MVP

2007

  • Won World League Championship with CSKA
  • Named to All WNBA 1st Team

2008

  • Led the San Antonio Silver Stars to the best record in the WNBA and to San Antonio's first ever Western Conference Championship
  • Made the Guinness World Record for Most Free Throws Made in a Minute (women’s category) after hitting 38 of 42 attempts in the allotted 60 seconds on February 16 at the NBA All-Star Jam Session
  • Voted into Euroleague All-Star Game
  • Won the Cup of Russia with CSKA
  • Silver Medalist in the Russian League Championships
  • Won the 2008 Haier Shooting Stars Competition along with David Robinson and Tim Duncan
  • Chosen as Athlete of the Year by the Rapid City Journal
  • Named to All WNBA 2nd Team

2009

  • Voted into the EuroLeague All-Star Game
  • Won the EuroLeague All-Star 3 Point Shoot Out
  • Voted into the WNBA All-Star Game
  • Won the WNBA All-Star Game 3 Point Shoot Out
  • Named to the All WNBA 1st Team

2010

  • Voted into the 2010 EuroLeague All-Star Game (Did not play)
  • Won the 2010 Haier Shooting Stars Competition at the NBA All-Star Weekend with Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Smith
  • Inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame
  • Named to the WNBA All-Star Game (Did not play due to injury)

2011

  • Named to the WNBA's exclusive Top 15 Players of All Time list

2012

  • Top vote getter for the Silver Stars All-Decade Team

2013

  • After suffering a broken finger during a pre-season practice, Hammon made her 2013 WNBA season debut in Los Angeles on July 6
  • Hammon tore her ACL on July 13 and missed the remainder of the season

2014

  • On July 23, Hammon announced that she will retire at the end of the 2014 season
  • On August 5, it was announced that Hammon will serve as assistant coach of the NBA San Antonio Spurs
  • On August 22, Hammon was award the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award[10]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Becky Hammon was born to coach
  2. ^ "Frances Pomeroy Naismith". Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Gillette, Felix (2005-06-16). "Sideshow Bob". slate.com. Archived from the original on 4 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  4. ^ a b Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst, "Becky Hammon Hired to Spurs' Staff", ESPN.com, Aug. 5, 2014.
  5. ^ "Gregg Popovich invites WNBA star Becky Hammon to Spurs' practices". Los Angeles Times. 2014-05-05. Retrieved 2014-06-17. 
  6. ^ "1998 Women's R. William Jones Cup," USA Basketball, August 3, 2014.
  7. ^ "Hammon Not Going To Be The Most Popular Gal At The V.F.W". deadspin.com. Retrieved 2010-10-31. 
  8. ^ a b c "Olympics opportunity too much for Hammon to pass up". espn.com. Retrieved 2010-10-31. 
  9. ^ a b "USA Woman's national team: USA 67, Russia 52". USA Woman's Basketball. 2008-08-21. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  10. ^ "Becky Hammon Leaves Legacy in Final Season; Receives 2014 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award". WNBA.com. Aug 22, 2014. Retrieved 25 Aug 2014. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Award Created
WNBA Peak Performer (Assists)
2008 season
Succeeded by
Lindsay Whalen