While everyone was rooting for her to become the first female head coach in NBA history, Becky Hammon said she always knew where she stood in the Portland Trail Blazers’ search — and that’s totally fine with her.
“I knew I was second; I knew who they wanted,” Hammon told CNBC of the search. “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. 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 coaching search.
The San Antonio Spurs assistant coach spoke to CNBC about her experience being considered for the Blazers’ head coach job and why she’s ready for a more prominent role in the league, and said she never pretended she was the favorite heading into the interviews with the team.
“I’m not mad,” Hammon said. “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.”
Hammon spent 16 seasons in the WNBA — starting in New York with the Liberty, making six All-Star appearances and retiring in San Antonio in 2014 — and said she’s ready for the challenge of leading a team of her own.
CNBC reports that Hammon, 44, remains an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs and when asked why she’s ready for one of 30 head coaching jobs in the league, she pointed to her professional growth under coach Gregg Popovich.
“I need to be the right coach — not male or female — the right coach, for the right team, in the right city, at the right time,” she said.
While social media calls for Hammon to make history as the first female head coach, she has her own plan.
“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.’”
And when she does land a top NBA coaching job, Hammon said, she said she welcomes everything that comes with it.
“I’m ready to be scrutinized,” Hammon said. “Whether I do it all wrong or do it all right — it is what it is. My job is to show up for the players and be the leader and person that believes in them the most.”
“When the world is giving them a pile of s— and throwing stuff in their ears, I’m the voice of honesty to say, ‘Hey, this is what it looks like — this is how it’s got to be, and if you’re down, I’m down to make it work,’” she said. “I don’t know how to put it to you any other way. The truth always works.”
“I am happy with what’s happening — the needle is moving,” Hammon said, per CNBC. “Am I content? No. And contentment has never brought anything great. There are different prices to pay to get where you want to go. And I’m at that point.”