Becky Hammon is nearer to changing into an NBA head coach than ever earlier than — however she needed to depart the league to make it occur

Becky Hammon might, in the end, be getting ready to breaking the best glass ceiling in sports activities: changing into the primary lady head coach of a males’s main skilled sports activities group.

The longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant — who has lengthy been seen because the main candidate to change into the primary lady head coach in NBA historical past — is ready to interview for the now-vacant head teaching job with the Toronto Raptors. And whereas it’s miles from her first time auditioning for a spot on the entrance of an NBA franchise’s bench, Hammon is healthier geared up now than ever earlier than to land the position.

An unexpected return to the WNBA might have made all of the distinction.

Becky Hammon.

Hammon (proper) directs the San Antonio Spurs as head coach Gregg Popovich seems to be on.

AP Picture/Eric Homosexual

After the various NBA head teaching interviews she endured, Hammon recalled receiving comparable suggestions every time she was handed over for the gig:

“Two issues that folks all the time mentioned: ‘You have solely been in San Antonio, and you’ve got by no means been a head coach,’” Hammon mentioned throughout a press convention in January.

So after eight years as a Spurs assistant coach beneath league legend Gregg Popovich, the six-time WNBA All-Star left males’s basketball to change into the pinnacle coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. Although Hammon conceded that she beforehand “had no intentions of leaving the NBA” at the moment, the Aces gave her a proposal that was too good to refuse: an opportunity to regulate her personal group.

Becky Hammon Las Vegas Aces.

Hammon attracts up a play for the Las Vegas Aces.

AP Picture/L.E. Baskow

In taking the position, Hammon crammed two of the gaps NBA executives pointed to on her resume: taking a job exterior of San Antonio and garnering expertise as a head coach. And simply 9 months after assuming a long-coveted place on the head of a bench within the league the place her skilled basketball profession started, Hammon guided Las Vegas — lengthy a title contender however by no means a victor — to their first-ever WNBA championship.

There are innumerable complimentary adjectives appropriate for describing Hammon’s near-instant success upon assuming the helm of knowledgeable basketball group. “Stunning,” nevertheless, shouldn’t be one in all them.

Simply ask those that know finest:

“She’s an excellent coach,” Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy, who labored alongside Hammon on Popovich’s Spurs employees, beforehand informed Insider. “It is not been stunning to any of us.”

Becky Hammon and her sons pose with the WNBA championship trophy.

Hammon and her sons pose with the WNBA championship trophy.

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports activities

Now, as she prepares to interview alongside a litany of present NBA assistants — “Golden State’s Kenny Atkinson, Milwaukee’s Charles Lee, Phoenix’s Kevin Younger, San Antonio’s Mitch Johnson, Sacramento’s Jordi Fernandez, Memphis’ Darko Rajakovic, and Miami’s Chris Quinn” amongst others, in line with ESPN — Hammon can level to her expertise as a head coach exterior of San Antonio as a differentiator.

She’s left NBA executives with no extra excuses. Even nonetheless, given the sheer quantity of public rejections she’s confronted within the males’s recreation, Hammon could be justified in feeling cautious of placing herself again within the NBA teaching circuit.

However that is simply not how the 46-year-old — who says she’s “used to folks not choosing me” — approaches a problem.

Becky Hammon and Chelsea Gray.

Hammon and Aces level guard Chelsea Grey chat alongside the sideline.

Gary Dineen/NBAE by way of Getty Photos

“She would not worry something,” Aces famous person and WNBA Finals MVP Chelsea Grey beforehand informed Insider.

“She all the time says, ‘Folks leap out the water after they see sharks — I leap in.’”