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Spurs hire Becky Hammon, NBA's first paid female assistant coach

By Zach Harper | NBA writer

Becky Hammon becomes the first female assistant coach in the NBA.
Becky Hammon becomes the first female assistant coach in the NBA. (USATSI)

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The San Antonio Spurs made history on Tuesday when they announced the hiring of Becky Hammon. Hammon has played in the WNBA for 16 seasons, and after becoming a naturalized Russian citizen in 2008, played on the Russian basketball team in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games. She can now add "first hired female assistant coach in the NBA" to her already impressive résumé.

From the Spurs:

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that Becky Hammon has been hired as an assistant coach. Per club policy terms of the contract were not announced.

Hammon, who is currently in her 16th WNBA season, announced on July 23 that she would retire as a player at the conclusion of the 2014 season. Named one of the WNBA's Top 15 Players of All-Time in July of 2011, Hammon ranks seventh in WNBA history in points (with 5,809), fourth in assists (1,687) and sixth in games (445).

“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich. “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.”

Over the past year, the Spurs lost two very respected assistant coaches in Mike Budenholzer and Brett Brown. Budenholzer became the coach of the Atlanta Hawks while Brown took over the sidelines for the Philadelphia 76ers. Since then, the Spurs have replenished the sidelines with Jim Boylen, Ettore Messina, and now Hammon. Messina is a highly successful and respected international coach who had a brief job with the Los Angeles Lakers back in the 2011-12 season. The Spurs also avoided having assistant coach Chip Engelland poached by Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors this summer.

Lisa Boyer was a "volunteer assistant coach" on John Lucas' coaching staff for the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2002. Boyer participated in the home practices and was on the side next to assistant Chuck Person for all of the Cavs' home games, but did not travel with the team. At the time, only two assistant coaches were allowed to sit on the team bench, so Boyer and Person had to be situated nearby but not directly on the bench.

Adding Hammon builds on the perception the Spurs aren't afraid of thinking outside of the conventional ways of building an organization. The majority of their roster has come from outside the United States and they've been innovative in keeping the strength of the organization more about a focus and plan than the stars playing for it. Hammon has been involved with professional basketball for nearly two decades and has clearly impressed Gregg Popovich, R.C. Buford, and the organization with her understanding of the game.

Hammon has worked with the Spurs before:

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