Las Vegas, NV (Dec 31, 2021)—Las Vegas Aces President Nikki Fargas announced today that the team has hired San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, and six-time WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon as the team’s new head coach.
“We’re very excited to have Becky return to the Aces’ franchise as our head coach,” said Fargas. “Her success in the sport of basketball as both a player and a coach is unparalleled, and fueled by a tenacious desire to be the best she can possibly be. We have one of the most talented rosters in the WNBA, and Becky is the absolute best person to lead this team.”
“I am so excited to return to the WNBA and grateful for Mark Davis and Nikki Fargas having a vision for me to lead the Aces,” said Hammon. “This is where I come from, and I wouldn’t be me without the W. I’m thrilled to be able to give back and lead this next group of women.”
The seeds for Hammon’s hiring were originally sewn when the Aces retired her jersey on September 13, 2021. That ceremony served as the culmination of the franchise’s 25th anniversary alumni initiative, which saw the Aces embrace their Utah and San Antonio roots, and celebrate the players who helped build the franchise and the league from the ground up.
Las Vegas owner Mark Davis spent time with Hammon and her family that week, and walked away understandably impressed.
“This is an exciting day for the Aces organization,” Davis said. “From the moment I met Becky Hammon, I was hopeful that one day she would rejoin the family. I just never imagined it would happen this soon.”
Hammon replaces Bill Laimbeer, who coached the Aces for the team’s first four years in Las Vegas. The former Pistons Bad Boy led the Aces to three WNBA Semifinals appearances, and the 2020 WNBA Finals.
“This is the best possible scenario for the Las Vegas Aces,” allowed Laimbeer. “It takes a tremendous amount of energy to be a head coach. In Becky, the team now has somebody who can serve in that role for the long term, which is great for both the players and the franchise.”
Laimbeer will continue to work for the Aces, focusing initially on assisting with the team’s roster construction for 2022. The league’s free agency signing period begins next week.
“We are forever thankful for the dedication and commitment Bill Laimbeer has made to the Aces organization and to the WNBA,” added Fargas. “He has been completely encouraging and supportive of this transition, and is as excited as the rest of us are to see what the future holds for this team and this city.”
Hammon played 16 seasons in the WNBA, including her final eight in San Antonio, where she led the franchise to its first finals appearance.
On August 5, 2014, San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich hired Hammon as a full-time assistant making her the first woman in league history to occupy that position.
Since that time, Hammon has continued to accumulate coaching ‘firsts’ in the NBA. On July 3, 2015, she became the first woman to serve as head coach in the NBA’s Summer League where she led the Spurs to the league title.
Less than a year later, Hammon became the first woman to be part of an All-Star coaching staff, and on December 30, 2020, following Popovich’s ejection in San Antonio’s game against Los Angeles, Hammon took over on the bench, becoming the first woman acting head coach in the history of the NBA.
“Becky has become an integral part of our program in every way, shape and form,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich. “This is a great opportunity for her to highlight her many skills. Her intuitive feel for the game and ability to teach will serve the Aces very well as she institutes her system and culture.”
“I have so many incredible memories and proud moments in San Antonio from my time with both the Stars and the Spurs,” added Hammon. “From the fans and players to coaches and staff, everyone in the organization has treated me so well for so many years and the entire experience has been amazing. I’m especially thankful to Pop, who only cared about my potential, not my gender. He saw something special in me and was willing to invest the time and energy to help teach and develop a young coach.”
A member of the league’s 15th, 20th and 25th anniversary teams, Hammon went undrafted in 1999 following her All-American career at Colorado State. She signed with the New York Liberty as a free agent that same year, helping the team to WNBA Finals appearances in three of her first four years in the Big Apple.
The Rapid City, South Dakota native earned her first All-Star nod in 2003, and represented the Liberty on the Eastern Conference squad in 2005 and 2006 as well.
Following the 2006 campaign, the Liberty traded Hammon to San Antonio. In her first season in silver and black, the 5-6 guard posted what were then career highs in scoring (18.8 ppg), and assists (5.0) while earning another trip to the WNBA All-Star Game. As a team, the Silver Stars made their first appearance in the postseason since 2002, falling to Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals.
In 2008, Hammon led San Antonio to its first trip to the WNBA Finals where they fell to the Detroit Shock. The Silver Stars made the playoffs in each of her seven full seasons with the team, and Hammon once again was named to the All-Star team in 2009 and 2011.
She retired as the franchise leader in assists per game (5.1) and scoring average (15.6), and the WNBA leader in career free throw percentage (89.7).
Hammon was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2018