Becky Hammon doesn’t want to become an NBA head coach because of her gender: ‘Don’t hire me to check a box’

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It’s only a matter of time before Becky Hammon lands herself a head coaching job in the NBA. She was most recently a finalist for the Portland Trail Blazers’ position, but the team instead settled on Chauncey Billups to fill that void. On numerous occasions she’s spoken about her prospects of breaking that glass ceiling, saying back in July “if you want to hire me, you’ll find a reason.”

Every time she has interviewed for a head coaching gig in the league over the years, it feels like we’re a little bit closer to it actually becoming a reality. When that happens, Hammon hopes it becomes the norm around the league. 

“It’s huge and important. It’s something that can’t be (checking) the box,” Hammon said via the Associated Press. “You have to hire the best person. Half the world’s population hasn’t been tapped for their mind and ability and skill sets in the sports world. It’s something that needs to change.”

But while Hammon sees it as a necessary change, she also hopes that she or any other woman for that matter aren’t hired just because of their gender. 

“Please don’t hire me to check a box. That’s the worst thing you can do for me,” Hammon said. “Hire me because of my skill sets and coaching, who am I as a person, hire me for those.”

Hammon has echoed that sentiment several times in the past, but she also realizes that when/if she becomes the first female head coach in the NBA, it will be a momentous inflection point in the league’s history. She already has several “firsts” under her belt after becoming an assistant coach in the league with the San Antonio Spurs. She is the first woman to serve as the head coach of an NBA Summer League team, and when she stepped in as head coach this season after Gregg Popovich was ejected from a game in December, she was the first woman to serve as the head coach during an NBA game. 

But if she becomes the first woman to be hired as a full-time head coach in the league, that level of attention will be significantly higher. 

“I think I get better every time I go through it and walk through that door. But at the end of the day, an organization is gonna hire me because I’m the best coach for the job,” Hammon said via Sports Illustrated. “All the stuff that comes after that will come. There’s no stopping that tidal wave. And I think, for me, it’s always a fine line of not overlooking or underestimating or downplaying the moment. But my primary focus has to be to become the best coach that I can be, and be there for my players, for whatever organization is the right fit for me?”

Hammon’s credentials speak for themselves and she’s been praised throughout her tenure with the Spurs by Popovich. She also has history on her side in knowing that most coaches who come from the Popovich coaching tree end up finding a head coaching job later on down the line. Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was the latest of former Popovich assistants to get his first head coaching gig when the Celtics hired him this summer. 

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