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Spurs Hire Becky Hammon As Second Female Assistant Coach In NBA History

The Spurs today announced the hiring of six-time WNBA all-star Becky Hammon as an assistant coach. She’s just the second woman to be hired as an NBA assistant coach in history, the first was Lisa Boyer with the Cavs during the 2001-02 season.

ESPN erroneously called Hammon the first female assistant coach in NBA history with their first tweet about the news today, which they eventually corrected:

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Marc Stein was also confused about her place in NBA history.

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The 37-year-old Hammon is finishing up her 16th year in the WNBA, and eighth with the San Antonio Silver Stars. She was born and raised in the United States, but became a naturalized Russian citizen in 2008 before competing for the Russian National Team in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Since Spurs coach Gregg Popovich graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Soviet Studies at the United States Air Force Academy, and can speak Russian, we’re guessing Hammon’s own love of Russia has played a part in her role with the Spurs already.

As Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News notes, Hammon was a bit of a coaching intern this past season before Popovich decided to bring her on full-time.

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“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” said Gregg Popovich in the team’s release. “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.”

In May of this year, Popovich was asked whether women could coach men, he was clear in his response:

“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.”

Here’s more from Popovich on Hammon via ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:

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As mentioned above, there had been some confusion about Hammon’s place in history, something we’re guessing neither the Spurs, Popovich or Hammon herself cares about at all, but USA Today‘s Jeff Zillgitt set the record straight:

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Zillgitt also notes that during Lisa Boyer’s lone season with the Cavs, she was paid by the Cleveland Rockers of the WNBA and did not travel with the team.

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As Marc J. Spears of Yahoo and Ken Berger of CBS Sports add, this could be one of many such hires since Popovich and San Antonio’s stamp of approval is praised throughout the Association:

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Pop and the Spurs also hired Italian Ettore Messina earlier this off-season, making his staff even more of a groundbreaking collective.

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As we noticed on our own Twitter timeline and as pointed out by Ball Don’t Lie’s Dan Devine, there was a decided lack of the kind of passive chauvinism usually found online after the news broke today.

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Let’s hope that trend continues in our comment section here and on Facebook.

Have the Spurs — hopefully — started a trend?

Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.

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