The San Antonio Spurs will open the season defending the title with some new blood on the bench, and some of that blood has two X chromosomes. The Spurs–a small market team that’s managed to win five NBA championship by playing basketball beautifully–are known for innovation. They were one of the first teams to really embrace global basketball–and their roster is a United Nations of players. Sometimes they don’t have a player on the floor born on mainland USA. Now they’re breaking boundaries again, this time by hiring Becky Hammon to tell Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker what to do!
The taciturn no-nonsense Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich hired Hammon this summer as a full-time assistant coach–the first in NBA history. Hammon played professional basketball for the WNBA’s San Antonio franchise until her recent retirement. “When you’ve been around it, you know who can coach and who can’t coach,” Popovich said. “Becky is one of those people. She’s a Steve Kerr. She’s a Doc Rivers. She’s those kind of people. They have a feel for the game that they want to continue to participate in.” And the Spurs continue to exemplify what’s best about professional sports.