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The Scarlet & Black

Rueters Digest: Hammon deserves a head coaching job


Though the NBA playoffs may just be ramping up, there will be a litany of head coaching jobs up for grabs come the offseason, with the Suns, Knicks, Hawks, Grizzlies, Bucks and a few more teams likely searching for a new coach. One possible name that has come up in recent weeks is a former player, who is a six-time all-star and has worked under the tutelage of Greg Popovich. Her name is Becky.

Becky Hammon is qualified to be an NBA Head Coach. She has spent six years working as an assistant under arguably the greatest coach of all-time, Greg Popovich. She had a stellar professional career in the WNBA and overseas, and she has been lauded for her high basketball IQ and player management skills.

However, plenty of qualified candidates get overlooked for NBA coaching jobs each year. There are assistants who have worked in the league for longer than Hammon and with better coaching pedigree than Hammon who haven’t gotten their shot yet. In fact, unless you were a well-known NBA player (Jason Kidd, Derek Fisher, Doc Rivers, etc.) or a stellar college coach (Brad Stevens, Billy Donovan, Fred Hoiberg, etc.), it is difficult to get a head coaching job right away without first “paying your dues.”

This is not to say that Hammon won’t get a head coaching job or that she shouldn’t. However, if she goes another year without filling one of the few NBA head coaching vacancies, it is because teams are stupid, not simply because they are sexist.

Their stupidity lies in the fact that Greg Popovich thinks she is ready, right now, to be a great NBA coach. And the coaching family tree of Popovich is damn impressive.

In fact, of the sixteen teams to make the NBA playoffs this year, six of them are coached by a former Popovich player or assistant. When this is the case, it is hard to understand why a team like the New York Knicks (who have been a laughing stock in the league for the last decade or so) would not at least pick up the phone and give Hammon a call.

While it is unfair to use Hammon’s job status to measure the relative level of gender equity in the NBA, it is accurate to say that Hammon’s role as the only female assistant in the league is evidence of a larger system of male culture at play.

Despite an ever-broadening base of female fans, players and coaches, the NBA still seems contented to cycle through the same type of people (male former players) or in some cases, the same exact people (Mike Brown has been an NBA head coach on three separate occasions) when it comes to filling even the most mundane staff and management vacancies.

Further amplifying this gender gap are the recent reports from the Dallas Mavericks, where it has been alleged that the team (led by Owner/President Mark Cuban) fostered a front office “locker room culture” in which female employees felt threatened, pressured and even harassed.

No one likes the idea of hiring someone just to make a point — this kind of tokenism is offensive to all parties involved. However, is it really tokenism when one candidate is just as qualified as the others? There will always be reasons that teams can make up not to want to hire a person (see Colin Kaepernick), so maybe public pressure can sway an owner to bring Hammon in.

Once there, she will have to prove herself — more so, unfortunately, than any of her male colleagues.

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