Becky Hammon: The Next Boston Celtics Head Coach

San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) talks with assistant coach Becky Hammon during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in San Antonio, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. San Antonio won 114-90. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

When it was reported that Danny Ainge was going to retire, and Brad Stevens was going to take his place, I immediately thought of a quote that Brad said regarding other coaches, specifically Becky Hammon, “Becky obviously is a terrific candidate. I don’t know her well but I know what people think about her and I know how well she’s respected all across the league by players and coaches. I would hope that that time is coming very soon.”. Looking at the sports landscape, more and more women are breaking barriers and are starting to take jobs that were previously held by men. Yesterday, the Tennessee Titans hired Mical Johnson as their first full-time female scout. The Denver Broncos hired former Vikings scouting executive Kelly Kleine as executive director of football operations and special advisor to the general manager, making her the highest-ranking woman in football operations at an NFL club. The MLB broke a huge barrier when the Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng as their General Manager. The sports world is now trying to find the most experienced person, rather than finding the most experienced man.

In addition, this Boston team is set up to help the coach succeed. The Celtics have two young All-Stars in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, excellent guards in Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart, a defensive stud in Robert Williams, as well as an excellent Front Office with lots of experience. This is important, especially if you want a minority coach to succeed. For example, Stephen Silas accepted the Houston Rockets job and took a team that had their star player James Harden partying at strip clubs and being away from the team. That devoid talentless Rockets team suffered 20 straight losses, and coach Silas may most likely be fired after this season as well. History shows that minority coaches are rarely hired into ready-made situations. They get jobs that are wanted and set up for failure (David Culley: 2021). In terms of this for women, Billy Jean King put it best when she said, “The toughest part for us is you know that if you don’t do a great job, you’re going to get killed and it hurts the others coming after you. When you’re the first, you don’t ever want to be the last — that’s what every woman thinks. I’m sure Jackie Robinson thought, ‘I don’t want to be the last Black guy.'”  If Becky Hammon is put in a position to succeed and she can lead the Celtics to a top 3 seed next season, it would become a massive testament to women coaching at the professional level and would break massive barriers.

That being said, it’s not as though we need to hire her just because she represented a minority. She has been around the sport of basketball all her life. She enjoyed a 16-year WNBA career in which she ranks second in free-throw percentage, fourth in three-point field goals, made, fifth in assists, 12th in total points, 12th in games played, 15th in free-throws made, 15th in total minutes, and 19th in field goals made. She ended her career as the San Antonio Stars’ all-time leader in assists, points per game, and three-point field goals made. When she tore her ACL, she sat in on San Antonio Spurs’ practices, coaches’ meetings, and games, and she was invited to voice her opinions to the staff. She was named an assistant coach a year later, becoming just the second female coach in the history of the NBA, At the time of the hiring, Gregg Popovich, the head coach, said, “I very much look forward to the addition to 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 of great benefit to the Spurs. Over time, she’s earned the respect of both players and coaches throughout the League. Pau Gasol said it best when he said, “Becky Hammon can coach NBA Basketball.” In 2015, she led the Spurs summer league to a summer league title, becoming the first female coach to do so. She has also made coaching appearances at the 2016 all-star game, and even interviewed for the position of General Manager of the Milwaukee Bucks. On December 30th, 2020, she became the first female acting head coach when Gregg Popovich was ejected in the second quarter in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. With this quality experience, she is an intelligent woman who deserves the shot to show that women can succeed in the coaching world.

Her relationships with her players are another notable reason why she should garner consideration for the Celtics coaching job. Former coach Brad Stevens was known for not connecting with players and leading the locker room effectively. One agent told Sean Deveney “Most players don’t need their handheld, but they want to know where they stand what they need to do. That’s not always coming to form Stevens and it can be frustrating. Per Terry Rozier, the Celtics also practice things that normally don’t show up in games because Brad Stevens thought that former Celtic and All-Star Kyrie Irving should pick the offense and let him do whatever he wants. This wouldn’t be the case with Becky, as her relationships with San Antonio Stars DeMar DeRozan and others help demonstrate her ability to talk to and coach players and be someone that the players she can lean on. She won’t be a pushover but also knows when to let players have what they want. Her playing days can also contribute to this, and her basketball IQ combined with her mental toughness are all characteristics that can help bring more championship banners to the city of Boston

The chance of a lifetime: A historically great organization, great ownership, a stable front office as well as a roster that can compete well in the Eastern Conference has to be tempting for Spurs Protégé Becky Hammon. With the perfect combination of the history and the present players on the squad, Becky Hammon can open future doors not only for women coaching in basketball but women coaching in all leagues. If Brad Stevens truly believes in what he said, then Becky Hammon should be at the top of his list for the next coach of the Boston Celtics.

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