Becky Hammon established herself as one of San Antonio’s great sports figures during her decorated WNBA career — and her place is now officially cemented. On Jan. 27, Hammon was enshrined into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2018.
As one of the best point guards in WNBA history, Hammon played 15 seasons in her career, her first seven coming with the New York Liberty. A 2006 trade brought her to the San Antonio Stars, where she finished her career with eight impressive seasons, setting her on a course for history.
When Hammon came to San Antonio in 2007, she was immediately adopted the culture and became beloved by the city and its fans. The transition for Becky, however, wasn’t as smooth at first.
“I got the call that I was traded, and I was the captain of the team in New York at the time. I made the All-Star team there, so I was caught off-guard a little bit. I had no idea that was going to happen, so I was upset,” Hammon told Spurs.com. “But I am speaking from the bottom of my heart, that the moment I stepped foot in San Antonio, the person that picked me up at the airport, the team, Dan and the staff and how I was treated by everyone — it felt like home right away. I knew when I stepped foot here that I was going to be here for a while.”
On the court it was no different. The San Antonio community instantly fell in love with the tenacious drive and team-first mentality that Hammon brought to the court every night.
“I don’t hide my emotion well when I am playing. I put my heart out on my sleeve and make sure I go out there and do my best,” she continued. “Sometimes you will fall on your face, and sometimes you will be successful, and I think you need to be able to do both. Just putting yourself out there as an athlete, most people will love you back.”
And they did. Hammon’s three All-Star appearances while in San Antonio, two WNBA All-First Team honors, and a single-season assists title all culminated to her No. 25 jersey being raised to the rafters and being named to the WNBA Top 15@15 and 20@20 teams.
Hammon’s basketball success is beyond impressive, but since she retired from playing in 2014, it has been her role as trail blazer in the coaching ranks that has moved her from all-time talent to the history books of basketball.
In 2014, Hammon joined the coaching staff for the San Antonio Spurs, becoming the first female assistant coach in the NBA.
“People are excited, and I had a friend tell me she heard a little boy talking to his sister, ‘You should do that too!’ So I think moms and dads having these conversations with their kids is the coolest thing for me, because I think for us to actually see changes in society, we are going to have to see women getting a fair shot, and getting a chance to do things we haven’t been able to do before,” Hammon said.
Going from court to sideline was a tough adjustment for Hammon at first, but she is finding herself becoming more and more comfortable in the coaching role.
“My whole life I was a basketball player. Go through the years since I was a little girl, you’ll see a basketball player. So to give that up was a really hard process for me,” said Hammon. “But getting to San Antonio and learning our system, learning what Coach (Popovich) wants, what he expects from the guys, and being a sponge in so many ways has been great. And now that I have been in it for a couple years, I feel much more comfortable, and feel I have something to offer and give.”
Popovich had glowing reviews for Hammon on remembering her as a player, before retiring.
“The first thing I noticed about her was her competitiveness and her sass, so to speak,” Popovich told Spurs.com “She took no prisoners, she competed at the highest level, and it was to win. She was a leader, and people reacted to her fantastically, so all those qualities were pretty obvious to me when I went to watch her play.”
When Hammon announced her retirement from playing, Popovich knew the smart thing to do would be getting her on the coaching staff.
“When she got injured late in her playing career and spent that whole season with us in coaches meetings, she became a valuable member of what we did. Her expertise in the finer points of the game were really impressive,” said Popovich. “We figured out she had the work ethic, that she wanted to be a coach and people responded to her, she knew what she was doing. So it became obvious in the following year that getting her on the staff would be very important.”