It’s only a matter of time until Becky Hammon becomes the first female head coach in NBA history. She’s spent years working under Gregg Popovich as one of his closest assistants, and lead the Spurs to a Summer League title in 2015. He was the first full-time female assistant in the NBA, and is a candidate for the vacant Milwaukee Bucks coaching job.
There has been a vocal minority of detractors, mostly anonymous on social media, who think that a female has no place coaching in an all-male league. Former Spurs big man Pau Gasol has a message for those people.
“If you’re making that argument to anyone who’s actually played any high-level basketball, you’re going to seem really ignorant,” Gasol wrote in the Players Tribune. “But I also have a simple response to it — which is that I’ve been in the NBA for 17 years. I’ve won two championships … I’ve played with some of the best players of this generation … and I’ve played under two of the sharpest minds in the history of sports, in Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. And I’m telling you: Becky Hammon can coach. I’m not saying she can coach pretty well. I’m not saying she can coach enough to get by. I’m not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA’s male coaches. I’m saying: Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball. Period.”
Gasol added that Hammon’s role on the Spurs was never about being politically correct or pulling off a publicity stunt.
“Would you really expect Coach Pop to develop his staff any differently than he develops his players? Of course not. Pop’s only standard for doing anything is whether it’ll help us in just one way … and it isn’t getting good P.R.”
If it doesn’t happen this year, it’s bound to happen eventually. If she’s good enough for Popovich and Gasol, two future Hall of Famers, she should be good enough for anyone else in the NBA.