A seven-time WNBA All-Star, Hammon retired from the San Antonio Stars at age 37 and made an historic leap across town to the Spurs, becoming the first paid, full-time female assistant coach in NBA history.
In high school, Hammon broke every Rapid City (S.D.) Stevens school record en route to capturing 1994-95 Gatorade South Dakota Girls Basketball Player of the Year honors, averaging 26 points, five steals and four rebounds as a senior.
College – Colorado State University
The major colleges, however, thought she was too small, too slow and too South Dakota. Colorado State took a chance, and the 5-foot-6 point guard broke all of the Rams records too, earning All-American recognition, winning the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the best senior player under 5-foot-8, and passing 11-year NBA veteran Keith Van Horn as the leading scorer—male or female—in Western Athletic Conference history.
In spite of all that, Hammon was not selected in the four-round 1999 WNBA draft. She signed with the New York Liberty, however, launching a 16-year career that earned her props as one of the top 15 players in WNBA history.
In 2008, Hammon made a hard decision and joined Russia’s national team and captured an Olympic bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics. She played again for Russia in 2012, and on the plane ride back from London struck up a conversation with the man next to her: Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
NBA – San Antonio Spurs
In 2013, Hammon played just one WNBA game and tore her ACL. While injured, she unofficially interned with the Spurs, sitting behind the bench during home games, watching practices and attending film sessions.
On August 5, 2014, Becky was hired by the Spurs.
One thing that hasn’t changed for Hammon is her South Dakota roots. Ron Riherd, Becky’s high school coach, went to see her play in the WNBA multiple times and remembers Hammon being endlessly accommodating to fans and admirers after games.
“I certainly never forget where I come from,” Hammon said. “There’s not a professional team in South Dakota anywhere, so I think the fact that they get a chance to interact with these professional athletes in unique situations, to be able to impact those young lives, hopefully that’s something they never forget. Hopefully I gave them a piece of knowledge or encouragement or something that will help them later on in life.”
That hospitality has still been present in Hammon’s career as an assistant coach. When Riherd got the boys head coaching job at Stevens High School two years ago, he called Hammon and asked her if he could come to San Antonio and watch a Spurs practice. When Riherd was down at a practice, Spurs head coach Greg Popovich came over to introduce himself and exchange some banter, which led to the subject of Hammon.
“Pop said, ‘Oh by the way, did she do to you what she’s doing to me?’ and I said, ‘I’m not sure,’” Riherd said. “And he said, ‘Damn, I think she’s after my job already.’”
She made history as the the first woman head coach to lead an NBA team in a regular season game when head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected in the second quarter of a Spurs game.
ABOUT BECKY HAMMON
High School: Stevens High School, Rapid City, South Dakota
As a Junior, voted South Dakota Player of the Year
College: Colorado State University
Number retired on January 22, 2005
New York Liberty – 1999–2006
Entered the Ring of Honor on August 2, 2015
San Antonio Stars – 2007–2014
Number retired on June 25, 2016
Tennessee Fury – 2003
Colorado Chill – 2004–2006
Trentino Rovereto Basket – 2001–2002
Rivas Ecópolis – 2006–2007
CSKA Moscow – 2007–2009
Ros Casares Valencia – 2009–2010
Nadezhda Orenburg – 2010–2011
Spartak Moscow Region – 2011–2012
Russian National Team – 2008 & 2012
Honors & Accolades
6× WNBA All-Star (2003, 2005–2007, 2009, 2011)
2× All-WNBA First Team (2007, 2009)
2× All-WNBA Second Team (2005, 2008)
WNBA assists leader (2007)
WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time (2011)
WNBA Top 20@20 (2016)
WNBA W25 (2021)
Spanish League champion (2010)
Queen’s Cup winner (2010)
New York Liberty Ring of Honor
San Antonio Silver Stars Number Retired
Colorado State University Number Retired
2008 Olympics Bronze Medalist
Euroleague All Star MVP
Euroleague 3 Point Champion
South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame