The defending 2014 NBA champion San Antonio Spurs hired the first female assistant coach in league history in an announcement made earlier on Tuesday.
Becky Hammon has been working closely with head coach Greg Popovich over the course of the spring and summer attending practices, film sessions, and sat behind the bench for the Spurs during home games this season.
“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Popovich said in a statement. “Having observed her working with our team this past season, I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.”
Hammon, who is currently in her 16th WNBA season, announced July 23 that she would retire as a player.
Nancy Lieberman, the Hall of Famer who coached the Texas Legends in the D-League, said Hammon's hiring marked a special day for women.
"I was so excited and pleased and the one thing that people have to remember is that the San Antonio Spurs don't do anything for effect," said Nancy Lieberman, a former star player who was a head coach in the NBA Development League in 2009 and now serves as the GM of the Texas Legends. "That's not who they are. They don't do this for the record-breaking barrier. They do things out of respect.
"And the fact that coach Popovich has this much respect for Becky's basketball IQ, for how she handles herself with the guys in practice, her ability to relate to them, I'm sure he saw so much when she was working with them last fall. I'm sure he didn't hire her because she was a woman. I'm sure he hired her because she was the best person for the job."
Popovich was asked in May whether women can coach men's players, and he replied, "I don't see why not. There shouldn't be any limitations. It's about talent and the ability to do things. It's not about what your sex is or your race or anything else."
A six-time WNBA All-Star, Hammon has spent the past eight seasons with the San Antonio Stars.
She is their all-time leader in assists (1,112) and 3-point field goals made (493) while ranking second in franchise history in points (3,442) and games (218). In 2012, Hammon was the top vote-getter for the Stars' All-Decade Team.
"This will open the door for other women, even like myself," Lieberman said. "My goal is to coach in the NBA and you've got to start somewhere. So this is a great day."