Becky Hammon coming up Aces in first season coaching in WNBA

Becky Hammon coming up Aces in first season coaching in WNBA

NEW YORK (AP) — When Becky Hyman knew it was time to leave the NBA last winter after being an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs for eight seasons, she was faced with a tough choice.

She had to choose between two WNBA franchises she once played for, and both worked hard to make her their head coach.

“It was going to be either Vegas or New York,” the Aces coach said after a recent practice in New York. “I thought it was time for me to quit and grow and take on a different challenge. It was one way or another. By mid-December, I was convinced that I was just getting out of this NBA path.”

She had been a candidate for a few NBA head coaching jobs over the years, but never got them. He had also received a few college offers in the past, as well as other assistant jobs in the NBA, but turned them down.

“It’s more rewarding and more rewarding to me than being an assistant coach on Sacramento or Oklahoma City or any other (NBA) team,” Hammon said.

The former Liberty Guard admitted that it was hard to say no to New York owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai, adding that she was actually close to taking a job in the Big Apple.

Nevertheless, 45-year-old Hammon has no regrets about her choice and has become the first WNBA coach to receive a million dollar annual salary.

“It’s been one of the best decisions of my life. I absolutely love it,” said Hammon, who was one of the All-Star coaches in Chicago last weekend.

Las Vegas got off to a great start, winning 13 of their first 15 games before hitting a skid before the All-Star break, with five losses in seven games. The Aces overtook New York in two games after the break.

“Nobody said it was going to be easy. If being great was easy, everyone would be doing it,” Hammon said. “You have to face some adversity. There must be some hiccups. We came out like a rocket and then hit some rough parts.

“The adversity will be more beneficial to us than a win-loss record down the road.”

Whether things were going well or when the team was struggling, Hammon said he spoke to Spurs coach Greg Popovich several times a week, either via text or over the phone.

“The other day, I talked to him for an hour. He watches all our games,” she said. “He tells me what he sees and what he thinks. That line of communication is very open.”

So is communication with his team.

Point guard Chelsea Gray said the biggest aspect that Hamon has brought to the team is accountability – which is certainly a Popovich trait.

“She’s holding everyone accountable from top to bottom,” Gray said. “It took him no time to do this and be completely honest with us.”

Hammon’s coaching style has helped defend Kelsey Plum, the best season of his WNBA career while averaging 20 points and 5.5 assists. The two were linked last year when Hyman was in Las Vegas for a few days. He worked and the 5-foot-6 Hyman offered some tips for eliminating 5-8 plumes in the gully.

“I didn’t know she would be coaching me this year,” Plum said. “She’s been where we are, which helps.”

Plum also noticed that some teams are already starting to incorporate some of Hammon’s coaching ideas. Las Vegas was one of the first teams to begin playing the zone defense, and New York tried it out against the Aces on Tuesday night.

“I think people are starting to steal some of his stuff,” Plum said. “People are even taking some of our sets in the wrong way. It’s great to see him making such an impact already. ,

Becky Hyman coming to the WNBA as an aces in first season coaching originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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