South Dakota’s Becky Hammon named 2022 WNBA Coach of the Year
Becky Hammon, who was born in Rapid City, South Dakota, has been named the 2022 WNBA Coach of the Year, according to ESPN.
Hammon is the head coach of the Las Vegas Aces of the Women’s National Basketball Association.
She was previously an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA.
Hammon was a three-time All-American basketball player for the Colorado State Rams and later played for the San Antonio Stars and New York Liberty.
Here are four things to know about Coach of the Year:
1. Hammon was the first woman to lead an NBA team
In December 2020, Hammon made history as the first woman to coach an NBA team.
According to the Associated Press, Hammon took over the San Antonio Spurs in the second quarter after coach Gregg Popovich was ejected in a 121-107 loss to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
She said at the time that she would have preferred a win instead.
“I try not to think about the huge image and how huge it looks because it can be overwhelming,” Hammon said, according to the AP. “I really haven’t had time to think. I haven’t had time to look at my phone. . So I don’t know what’s going on outside the AT&T center.”
2. She retired from the WNBA in 2014
A veteran of the San Antonio Stars, Hammon retired after his 16th season in the WNBA.
The Stars said at the time that the team’s all-time leader in assists, points per game and three-point field goals had left an indelible mark on the league.
Hammon, then 37, a graduate of Rapid City Stevens, was a six-time All-Star who ranked seventh all-time in total points (5,756), second in three-way field goals points (817), fourth in assists. (1,663), sixth in games played (440) and first in free throw percentage (89.6%, minimum 300 attempts).
And in 2015, the WNBA Star Player was blessed to become the first female head coach in an NBA summer league. She then led San Antonio’s entry into the league from Las Vegas — the biggest of the NBA’s three summer showcases, according to previous reports.
3. Hammon was an Olympian for Russia
Hammon’s widespread popularity was tested in 2008, when she made the decision to play for Russia at the Beijing Olympics, where she helped that country win a bronze medal while Team USA won the gold, according to previous reports from Argus Leader.
Feeling rejected by USA Basketball, she justified her decision by saying it was her only way to achieve a long-held Olympic dream, but many questioned her patriotism, according to Argus Leader records.
She left for Russia in London 2012finishing fourth as Team USA clinched gold, and she played the following year with Spartak Moscow of the Russian Premier League, increasing her earnings during the WNBA offseason, according to previous reports.
From Hammon’s perspective, she did what she had to do to pursue her basketball dream, according to leader Argus.
“It’s the story of my career,” she said at the time. “I don’t expect everyone to understand. I have to be honest and honest in my own process and in my own journey, so that’s what I do.”
4. 1994 Player of the Year
Written by Ron Hoffman and published in the December 15, 1994 edition of the Argus Leader, Hammon was named the state’s Player of the Year.
For her prep career, the 5-foot-6 guard had 1,417 points, 338 steals and 227 assists, and was hailed as arguably the best women’s basketball player in South Dakota history, according to precedents. Argus Leader reports.
A senior at Rapid City Stevens, Hammon averaged over 26 points, four assists and six steals to lead the 1994 Raiders to their second straight Class AA state tournament appearance.