NBA

Becky Hammon on recent NBA coaching interviews: ‘If you want to hire me, you’ll find a reason to hire me’

Every time Becky Hammon interviews for a head coaching job in the NBA it feels like we’re getting closer and closer to her finally making history in the league as the first woman to helm a team. Her latest interview process with the Portland Trail Blazers was the closest she got to that milestone, but ultimately, she passed over for Chauncey Billups.

The controversial hire made waves on social media, as many claimed the Blazers only interviewed Hammon as a way to do “damage control” for ultimately hiring Billups, whose sexual assault allegation from 1997 was a major talking point at his introductory press conference recently. Regardless of Portland’s decision, the current San Antonio Spurs assistant coach harbors no ill feelings toward the organization.

“I’m not mad,” Hammon said via CNBC. “This is the business, and it’s a very competitive business. But, at the end of the day, throw everything out the window — if you want to hire me, you’ll find a reason to hire me. And if you don’t want to hire me, you’ll find that reason, too. And that’s just that.”

While Hammon understands the business of the league, she also admitted that she knew she wasn’t going to get the job given the fact that it was well known that the Blazers looked at Billups as their first option. Franchise superstar Damian Lillard reportedly even lobbied for Billups to be hired

“I knew I was second; I knew who they wanted. And I’m OK with that, because every race I’ve gotten into my entire life, I’ve been behind, and I’m OK with that,” Hammon said. “And that’s just how it is — but at the same time, I’m not ignorant to what I’m going up against.”

Hammon said she felt the Blazers were “authentic” in their interview process of her, and while she didn’t land that job it’s not discouraging her from taking the next interview for a head coaching position in the NBA. As an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, Hammon’s been able to learn from one of — if not the best — coach in the history of the league, while earning public praise from Popovich himself on her coaching acumen. She’s served as head coach for San Antonio’s Summer League team in the past, and she stepped in as head coach this season after Popovich was ejected from a game in December. 

Most coaches who spend time under Popovich end up with a head coaching gig, and Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka became the latest branch of Popovich’s coaching tree when he took the job in Boston last month. It’s only a matter of time for Hammon to get the call, and while she would make history in becoming the league’s first female coach in the NBA ever, that’s not the reason she wants the job. 

“I don’t want to make the news because I’m the first female,” Hammon said. “At the end of the day, I want to make news because I’m hired for my qualifications. It was the original intent of Gregg Popovich when he hired me in 2014 — which is: ‘She added something to the group. She adds something to our team. I admire her mind and the way she looks at the game.'”


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