San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon will interview soon for the Milwaukee Bucks’ head coaching job, ESPN reported and The Post confirmed last week. She joins a list of candidates that includes Monty Williams, David Blatt, Mike Budenholzer and Ettore Messina. Hammon is the only woman on that list, and, when the interview happens, will become the first woman to have interviewed for a job leading an NBA team.
To NBA veteran Pau Gasol, who has played the last two seasons with Hammon in San Antonio, the big question isn’t whether she is qualified — he says it’s obvious she is — but rather why anyone would have a problem with her as a head coach.
“I’ve been in the NBA for 17 years,” Gasol, a likely Hall of Famer, wrote Friday on the Players Tribune. “I’ve won two championships … 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.”
Gasol illustrated his thesis by referencing his mother, a doctor in his native Spain. He says he never thought of her as a female doctor, just simply a doctor, “and a great one, too.” The same type of thinking applies to Hammon, as well.
“But if you think I’m writing this to argue why Becky is qualified to be an NBA head coach … well, you’re mistaken,” Gasol wrote. “That part is obvious: One, she was an accomplished player — with an elite point guard’s mind for the game. And two, she has been a successful assistant for arguably the greatest coach in the game. What more do you need?”
Gasol goes on to debunk some of the arguments that could be made against hiring Hammon: that it would be only a public-relations move, that coaching men is different than coaching women, that a woman’s presence would make things awkward in the locker room. All of them are hogwash, Gasol claims.