Becky Hammon came so close to becoming the first woman in NBA history to be named a head coach.
The current Spurs assistant was a finalist for the Blazers job with Mike D’Antoni before the team ultimately decided to give Chauncey Billups the opportunity.
Hammon making it deep in the job process was a success if one were to take moral victories, but there have also been mixed reactions. An audience of people believe the Blazers were pandering and weren’t seriously going to hire her, while another will make the argument she’s qualified but just didn’t impress the team enough.
The six-time WNBA All-Star will be entering her eighth season with the Spurs, and although she’s served her time gaining experience, the Blazers clearly thought there’s more she could work on and that’s no slight to Hammon. There have been assistants who had to wait multiple decades to get their first opportunity.
In an interview with CNBC’s Jabari Young, Hammon explained the process, saying she’s “not mad.”
She did note she felt their search was authentic, although it’s worth noting Blazers Chair Jody Allen was very interested in hiring Hammon.
“I take each experience, and I try to grow from it, and learn from it, and get better for the next time,” Hammon said. “If people need to justify a reason to why they did or didn’t hire me, it’s a little out of my realm of control. I just try to do the best I can in the moment I’m given.”
The coaching industry is tough. It’s a relationship business and Hammon acknowledged the difficulty of trying to break through.
“This is the business, and it’s a very competitive business,” Hammon said. “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.”
Without mentioning Billups by name, Hammon knew the team was favoring the 17-year NBA veteran.
For weeks Billups had been reportedly the favorite for the team and received a public endorsement from the team’s franchise player, Damian Lillard.
“I knew I was second; I knew who they wanted,” she said. “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.”