There’s a lot going on in the NBA this week, and stunningly, very little of it has to do with LeBron James.
Take Becky Hammon, for example. The long-time WNBA player was named an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, making her the first salaried female assistant in NBA history.
In hindsight, it’s really no surprise that the Spurs were the franchise to break this barrier.
“They are the standard for (being) ahead of the curve,” NBA.com senior writer Steve Aschburner said on Ferrall on the Bench. “They were early in the international talent pools – scouting the players overseas and utilizing them – and I think they’re probably ground-breakers here as well. I think the coolest thing about the hire was in their press release announcing it, they never mentioned her gender. To me, just to be that casual about it (was great). Hey, we’ve hired an incredibly competent assistant coach and her name is Becky Hammon and it doesn’t matter whether she’s the first, second or third female in that sense. She’s on that staff because of her competency, and I think people can feel pretty secure it was not a move for show. It was substance, not style. San Antonio doesn’t do things for style, and I think that just lends even more validity to it all.”
Hammon, who plays for the San Antonio Stars, spent a lot of time around the Spurs last winter, and both sides grew to like each other. As a result, Aschburner expects an easy transition for the six-time WNBA All-Star.
“I think she’ll do fine,” he said. “I don’t know intimately her philosophy of the game or her coaching style in terms of communication with players, but people say that she’s got a great coach sense about her and has had that even as an active WNBA player. She’s 37 years old, which means she’s older than most of the Spurs – not all of the Spurs – but that team is known for having a lot of adults on its roster. So some of the stuff that you might worry about with some other NBA teams in terms of hazing or acceptance or whether they’re going to be resistant to hearing something from a woman, I just don’t think it’s going to be an issue with the San Antonio Spurs. That locker room is under control. I don’t think you’re going to have any silliness that way. I think she’ll do fine.”
In other news, Paul George has a long road to recovery ahead of him after suffering a compound fracture in his right leg last Friday during a Team USA scrimmage. George, 24, is considered one of the best two-way players in the world, but Scott Ferrall has serious doubts as to whether the Indiana Pacers star will ever be the same again.
“I find it really interesting to read some of the reports after his surgery,” Aschburner said. “You had surgeons suggesting that because he is so very young, the healing process will go better than if he were an older player. Joe Theismann was deep into his 30s when he had his leg bent the wrong way by Lawrence Taylor. That’s supposed to help. The fact that they were clean breaks of the bones in his right leg, that’s supposed to help.”
“But I’m with you. We have seen guys who have had serious-to-horrendous injuries and they don’t come back quite the same. That is the source of so much of their game, their movement – both quickness straight ahead and lateral movement and launching themselves to and above the rim. That’s the kind of stuff that’s going to be hard. I won’t believe it until I see it. I want to see Paul George become the player he was destined or headed toward being. Right now, everybody wants to have the best thoughts possible, but yeah, I think it’s a concern.”