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While You Were Grinding: Thoughts on Becky Hammon


Joe Murphy

Stupid Spurs... always earning my begrudging respect.

Today, Gregg Popovich announced that he'd hired future WNBA Hall of Famer Becky Hammon as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. Hammon isn't the first woman to coach in the NBA, but she's the first full-time, salaried assistant coach in the history of the league. Oh yea, and she was hired by and will be coaching alongside probably the greatest basketball coach alive.

I hate the Spurs. I want, with every inch of me, for the Grizzlies to pummel them every time they share the court. And yet, I don't really hate anybody associated with the organization. It's not like I don't hate a bunch of NBA players, I do, but who is there even to hate on the Spurs? Patty Mills is kind of annoying I guess the way he really enthusiastically cheers and God this is such a reach already.

And then they go and do something like this.

The Becky Hammon hiring is representative of everything that's great in the NBA, everything that separates it from other professional sports. It's forward-thinking, inclusive, and progressive; and I don't think that's incidental. It's partly because NBA players are young and empowered and its stars have taken responsibility for creating a league that represents a new generation of thinking. If he hasn't already, LeBron is going to tweet something positive about Hammon because that's how the league operates now, and I think that's awesome. Just look at the list of accomplishments in the past year for the NBA: the first openly gay player in one of the major North American pro sports leagues, the long-overdue excommunication of a racist slumlord owner (most poetically because of his racism), the Hammon hiring, that moment in the draft where they honored Isaiah Austin (wipes away tear...), and the record purchase price for an American sports franchise. Positivity and profitability, baby, that's Where Amazing Happens.

I grew up in Tennessee, so I'm comfortable saying that I probably have a greater appreciation for women's basketball than the average NBA fan. Pat Summitt is probably the most beloved sports figure in the state.*

*You could make a case for Peyton Manning. I love Peyton Manning, but there are a lot of butthurt Titans fans around Nashville, so I'm gonna stick with Pat.

Much like Pop, there's no reason to list Summitt's accomplishments at this point: they're both on the coaching Mt. Rushmore. Instead, I'll just share this bit of Tennessee lore: she was offered the head coaching position of the Tennessee men's basketball team twice. She turned down UT administrators both times, but almost every bro in Tennessee wanted her to take the job. I have no doubt that she'd have been successful, but more importantly, so did the majority of people on UT message boards back in the late nineties and early aughts - not exactly a haven for progressivism. After every Buzz Peterson loss in the NIT, the good ol' boys would come out of the woodwork:

BubbaVol69 wrote: I tell you what them boys better watch there asses cuz Pat Summitt ain't gon take no bullshit and shell whip em. Buck Fama


StarsAndBOranges wrote: Coach Summitt is inarguably one of the greatest basketball minds of this generation, male or female. If Ray Graves hasn't gauged her interest in the head coach position of the men's basketball team, that is irresponsible and disconcerting. AN ALSO DO YALL THIKN CASEY CLAUSEN IS AN ELITE QUARTERBACK?

That's a long-winded way of saying that we've known for a little bit down here in Vol country that a woman was more than capable of doing what Becky Hammon will be doing next year. I hope that Coach Summitt smiled when she heard this news today; and by God if she did then you've made a lot Grizzlies' fans happy today too, Coach Popovich. Well done. I hope you both lose every game next year.