Well done NBA! More specifically, well done to the San Antonio Spurs. It has recently been announced that the soon to be retired Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) great and six-time All Star, Becky Hammon, is to become the first woman to join the coaching staff of an NBA franchise. Wow, this is exciting news – women breaking into the NBA. Could you ever have imagined this happening 20 years ago – even just four years ago?
This reminds me of the history of the first Black Americans in professional sport. It goes back to Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby of the American Professional Baseball Leagues. Although we still have a very long way to go in the United States, barriers are coming down at an encouraging rate. Could you ever see this happening in the world’s biggest game and in the world’s biggest league, the Premiership? I don’t think so. We can only hope however. I hear a lot of talk from League officials but I am yet to see any real changes in the UK.
But let’s talk a little bit more about the exciting news of Becky Hammon. She has been welcomed with open arms by coach, Gregg Popovich. He stated: “I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.” I love his sentiment; her gender is irrelevant, it’s all about her ability. Hammon was given this opportunity based on a level playing field – which I see very little of here in England.
Hammon knows this game inside and out. She played at Colorado State and then signed with New York Liberty in 1999 where she spent eight years. She was the leader in All-Time Assists 3-pointers and rates 4th in the franchise history in points and games. She also received the most votes in a poll of the Stars All-Decade Team. I’m really going to enjoy following how she does and will be supporting this appointment.
The Premiership needs to follow suit and emulate the progressive work of the NBA. We need more than just words – action needs to be taken to ensure that there are more women and ethnic minorities in the Premiership.