Now that the San Antonio Spurs have been eliminated from NBA Playoff contention, an enticing candidate exists in the Gregg Popovich coaching tree.
A young, driven, culture-setting candidate, this head coach embodies everything that General Manager Koby Altman is searching for in the next head coach of the Cavs.
Her name is Becky Hammon.
Now, there are currently zero female head coaches in any major professional men’s sports. Hammon is highly likely to become the first women to coach men in a professional setting.
When this happens, history will certainly be made forever. Why not do it in Cleveland? The city that was home to one of the nation’s earliest women suffrage conventions in 1869.
Put the gender social construction completely aside, look at her playing and coaching resume and match up what Altman is looking for, Hammon stands alone as a prime candidate to coach the Cavaliers moving forward.
“I think it’s important we find a leader that’s in it for the long haul,” Altman said of the coaching search. “I think we have to be obsessed with the process of getting better — not so much results driven. That’s the person I need to find. Regardless of the composition of the team, this person is going to be a cultural driver. So we’re going to get behind that candidate and help them be successful.”
Altman emphasized he is looking for a person that loves the process, the game and a cultural driver.
It’s difficult to find a better cultural driver than someone that has over five years coaching experience in the holy-grail of NBA locker rooms. Hammon has coached as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs since 2014.
Spurs head coach Popovich has an impressive list of assistant coaches have also gone on to find success as head coaches elsewhere throughout the NBA. Names like Steve Kerr, Mike D’Antoni, Mike Budenholzer and Brett Brown all, like Hammon, served as assistants to Coach Pop. Who’s to say Hammon won’t be the next name on this list of successful basketball minds?
Hammon also has the playing experience that is a popular trait amongst NBA head coaches today. She was a point guard with the New York Liberty from 1999-2006. She also played eight seasons with the San Antonio Stars, earning six All-Star appearances in the process.
The point guard position is one that is very coveted across the NBA, especially to the Cavaliers. The Cavs drafted Collin Sexton with the No. 8 overall draft selection last year. Depending on the NBA Lottery, the Cavs could be looking at Murray State standout guard Ja Morant.
While the WNBA is certainly different than the NBA, it certainly would be helpful to have a former point guard, Hammon, coach Sexton and possibly Morant.
Hammon has also earned the praise and respect of current and former NBA players around the league. Players like Damian Lillard, Byron Scott, Tim Duncan and many others have praised Hammon for her coaching excellence.
“I’ve played with some of the best players of this generation … and I’ve played under two of the sharpest minds in the history of sports, in Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. And I’m telling you: Becky Hammon can coach. I’m not saying she can coach pretty well. I’m not saying she can coach enough to get by. I’m not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA’s male coaches. I’m saying: Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball. Period,” Pau Gasol said in an open letter about female coaches.
The Cavs no longer need the stamp of approval from a kid from Akron, but LeBron James has also supported the idea of Hammon coaching men’s basketball.
“I mean, if she knows what she’s doing, we’ll love it,” James said. “I mean, listen, at the end of the day, basketball … it’s not about male or female. You know the game, you know the game.”
The 42-year-old former WNBA star has not had any direct connection to the Cavaliers coaching search. However, she was reportedly in the mix for the Milwaukee Bucks vacancy last year.
If the Cavs are genuinely searching for a cultural driver who can positively change the history of the franchise moving forward, Hammon should certainly be interviewed for the vacancy.
Nick Pedone can be reached on his Twitter, @NickPedone12, with any questions or comments. Go Cavs!