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How Becky Hammon wowed Gregg Popovich and earned the right to make NBA history

Becky Hammon San Antonio Spurs
Becky Hammon is the first woman in history to be named an NBA assistant coach. Photo by WNBA/

Add another milestone to the San Antonio Spurs' banner year. In addition to winning the 2014 NBA Championship, the Spurs have just hired Becky Hammon as an assistant coach — making her the first woman to be a full-time, paid assistant coach in the history of the NBA.

The former WNBA star spent 16 seasons in the league before announcing her impending retirement in July. Hammon was named one of the WNBA's "Top 15 Players of All Time" and is the seventh highest scorer in the history of the league.

 "I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.” 

“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Spurs coach Gregg 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.”

Though the 37-year-old Hammon is the first full-time assistant coach, she is not the first woman to serve on a NBA coaching staff. Lisa Boyer worked part time with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001-2002 while also serving as assistant coach of the WNBA's Cleveland Rockets. But Boyer was not paid for her work with the Cavaliers.

Hammon spent a lot of time with the Spurs last season as an unofficial observer, anticipating her retirement and impressing Popovich in the process.

The infamously ornery Popovich called Hammon a basketball "lifer" in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News season. That's one of the best compliments a basketball lover can get from the Spurs head man.

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