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Becky Hammon says she's ready for an NBA head coaching job.
The Portland Trail Blazers weren't ready to provide her that chance.
The longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant who was a finalist for the Portland job that ultimately went to Chauncey Billups says she's not mad about not being hired. But she's not naive about the process either. She opened up about her experience on the job hunt in an interview with CNBC.
“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.”
Because of her work as an assistant for five-time NBA champion coach Gregg Popovich since 2014, Hammon has long been believed as the top candidate to become the first female head coach in the NBA. She was joined by South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley on the interview circuit for vacancies this offseason. Neither were hired. So Hammon remains atop that very short list.
Hammon on Portland: 'I knew who they wanted'
Trail Blazers general manager Neil Oshey spoke about Hammon in June after the team hired Billups to replace Terry Stotts.
"We obviously admire Becky," Oshey said during Billups' introductory news conference. "She did a great job. Making it as far as the owner in the process isn't easy. She made it all the way to the ownership level, which is an endorsement."
While Oshey may have intended to paint Hammon in a positive light, it's hard not to hear anything but condescension in that statement. It makes one wonder if the Trail Blazers had any intent to hire her. Hammon believes the franchise targeted Billups all along.
“I knew I was second," Hammon said. "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 will presumably return to the Spurs' bench in the fall for another season alongside San Antonio's future Hall of Fame head coach. Her name will likely come up for vacancies again next offseason. Will that be her breakthrough moment? Or will she be the subject of more perceived lip-service in NBA management circles?
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