Ask Becky Hammon again about an NBA coaching gig
Becky Hammon feels like a tired NBA story, reviving on occasions like International Women’s Day to remind sports fans that she’s more than capable of leading a basketball team in any league. I’m not going to do that, though, because I want to emphasize how exhausting this narrative is—not to men who hate waking up to their sports talk, but to women who I’m sure are literally exhausted by men. he said the same fucking things about Hammon.
How many times do you think you’ve been asked what the difference is between men’s and women’s training? Or why hasn’t he gotten an NBA head coaching gig yet? Or if you are planning an opening. I remember listening to an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates a few years ago, and the author was genuinely shocked when the first question was not “Between Me and the World,” his borderline New York Times bestseller. white book clubs as the de facto book of race relations.
And that’s the feeling I get when I read interviews with Hammon. We so desperately want him to be a beacon of progress and assume that not only does he want to, but everything he wants to talk about. Never mind the flashy crap that comes with breaking the barrier or the not-so-subtle shooting skills you have to endure to get there.
Case in point, the Portland Trail Blazers
When Hammon peaked as the Spurs’ prospect, they told him “You’ve only been in San Antonio and you’ve never been a head coach,” as if that would have put teams off before. Gregg Popovich’s training tree in one of the most fascinating sports, and working for him as long as Hammon did should have guaranteed him an NBA head coaching job.
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This leads me to believe that the problem is not Hammon – which he clearly isn’t – but the people occupying the offices. An excellent example of this was when the The Portland Trail Blazers passed on Hammon for Chauncy Billupswho was a first-year assistant at the time and was also accused of rape in 1997. (Billups claims that the sex was consensual and he never charged. According to WaPo Billups and the alleged victim settled out of court.)
It was a bad look then, and nothing has improved the franchise or improved the defense since Billups arrived in Portland. If you want it triggered, check it out An article from ESPN today about Blazers GM Joe Cronin hiring WNBA players on his staff.
It’s not the material that angers me – it’s great that it’s giving Tina Thompson, Asjha Jones and other women a chance – it’s the blatant PR stunt of dropping this article on International Women’s Day. A season and a half after the team bypassed a championship-caliber prospect to hire someone still learning on the job, check out how Cronin is empowering women.
Give me a fucking break. The headline of the piece would have read: “Blazers try to make up for Hammon’s mistake by hiring women in positions other than head coaching.”
Another path to becoming an NBA head coach for a woman
It’s clear to me that the only people with the chutzpah to hire a woman as a head coach are women. I’m sure if Thompson and Jones had gotten Cronin’s ear when the team was looking to replace Terry Stotts, they would have vouched for Hammon, or at least for their gender’s ability to lead a basketball team.
Men regularly coach women, and this point is probably as tired as Hammon’s head coaching story. So I leave you with this: The next time you’re looking to nominate a woman for an NBA head coaching job, don’t just nominate Hammon — because while she might be the right candidate, he’s not the only oneand he may not want to.