After just one year on San Antonio’s bench, Becky Hammon coached the Spurs to an NBA Summer League championship.
Think that doesn’t matter?
Well, you’re wrong.
“Let me give you the number of the day, Mr. Gottlieb: 99,437,” NBA-TV analyst Jared Greenberg said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “That is how many people turned out to watch the 11-day, 67-game event out in Vegas, in addition to me and you being out there. The fans aren’t just watching because they have nothing else to do. There’s quite a few things you can do in Vegas. The fact that nearly 100,000 people turned out and our TV ratings were through the roof, people are watching. People care about what happened the last few weeks.”
Hammon wasn’t just there for show, either. She wasn’t just feeding guys in warm-ups and sitting on the bench. She was coaching.
There’s significance in this, no?
“There absolutely is,” Greenberg said. “And obviously Becky was the only head coach, but you had the Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman behind the bench for Sacramento. Lindsey Harding, former first overall pick in the WNBA, she was on the Toronto staff. I think teams, as they get more into the analytical side of basketball, they’re seeing the value of having women on the bench, in the locker room, influencing teams. When I spoke to some of these coaches and players about it, they just say (that) getting that added perspective of how you see the game, seeing the game from below the rim, the fundamentals, and just adding a different voice, I think is (good). When you hear guys like Gregg Popovich say (that) you want to bring that to your huddle, to your locker room, then it filters down to everybody else saying, ‘Maybe he’s probably on to something.’ I thought Becky did a great job.”
Indeed, she wasn’t perfect, but she proved her ability. She also learned a thing or two along the way.
“The first game that she lost, she said she drew up a play and she didn’t like it,” Greenberg said. “She saw the late-game execution and she called another timeout right away and said, ‘Listen, guys, I messed this up. Let’s redo this again.’ (So) she’s growing through this process as well. But you see the influence of the entire organization on her. I think Becky really commanded the respect of her team, which is hard to do. There’s no Tim Duncan in there to say, ‘Hey, you should listen to Becky.’ It’s these young guys who are out there to try to prove themselves because they’re trying to make a roster themselves. So for them to listen, pay attention and have the resect to do all that, I think, says a lot and goes along way.”
To be fair, guys trying to get on an NBA roster will respect any coach or authority figure, but for Greenberg, this went beyond that.
“A lot of them go rogue (and play selfishly),” he said. “To see these guys say, ‘Okay, we’re going to follow the mold here that’s been cut out for us (and fill the role we’ve been asked to fill),’ I think, is important.”