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Becky Hammon on Portland: “I knew I was second; I knew who they wanted”

Pacers coach

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 03: Assistant coach Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs looks on against the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 03, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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The report was floated out there: Jody Allen, the owner of the Portland Trail Blazers, wanted Becky Hammon to be the new coach.

Around the league, that report got the side-eye. Rumors linking Chauncey Billups to the Trail Blazers coaching job had been floating around the league since before Terry Stotts was fired. After what had been a sloppy hiring process from a PR standpoint, having Hammon in the mix was seen more as a public relations move than something Portland was serious about. Then when the backlash to the Billups hire came, suddenly a new leak came out about how the Blazers got poor feedback on Hammon from some Spurs. When was the last time there was that kind of leak on any assistant coach who didn’t get the job? It again felt like the Blazers were trying to cover their tracks.

Hammon sat down with Jabari Young of CNBC and was very honest about the hiring process, and said she knew where she stood in Portland.

“I’m not mad,” Hammon said. “This is the business, and it’s a very competitive business. But, at the end of the day, throw everything out the window — if you want to hire me, you’ll find a reason to hire me. And if you don’t want to hire me, you’ll find that reason, too. And that’s just that...

When discussing the process, Hammon said, “I knew I was second; I knew who they wanted. And I’m OK with that, because every race I’ve gotten into my entire life, I’ve been behind, and I’m OK with that. And that’s just how it is — but at the same time, I’m not ignorant to what I’m going up against.”

Hammon also said she thought the Trail Blazers were “authentic” in their coaching search.

At some point, a gutsy organization with the right fit from ownership down is going to give Hammon a chance. Unlike the leaked report, sources that have spoken to NBC Sports have had nothing but glowing things to say about her as a coach and leader. On the record, pretty much every Spurs player has said the same thing — they respect her as a coach and a basketball mind.

It may take time, but at some point a woman — likely Hammon, but maybe Dawn Staley or someone else — will be an NBA head coach. It will happen because they have earned it and because Hammon and others have worked to overcome a lot of extra hurdles in their path. That’s a good role model for players.