Sep 04

It Doesn’t Matter – Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli

Once NBA Commissioner Adam Silver handed the Larry O’Brien Trophy to San Antonio Spurs’ Owner Peter Holt, the NBA off-season officially began. During the off-season, every team evaluates their last season, and makes decisions they feel will help improve the management and performance of their organization.

This off-season, fans, media, and everyone associated with the NBA were waiting with bated breath to see where coveted free agents, such as, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony, would call home. On August 5, after LeBron James decided he was going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Carmelo Anthony decided he was staying with the New York Knicks, there was a historic press conference that very few media outlets knew about prior to its occurrence.

The San Antonio Spurs made NBA history, when they hired WNBA star, and San Antonio Stars’ Guard, Becky Hammon as a member of their coaching staff. Hammon is the first woman to be hired as a full-time member of an NBA coaching staff. Although Hammon is taking on a role that no woman has ever taken on before, she is no stranger to the game of basketball. Before her WNBA career began, Hammon was a standout guard at Colorado State University, where she is the all time leading scorer with 2740 career points. During the 1998-1999 season, Hammond led the Rams to a 33-3 record, and a Sweet 16 berth in the NCAA tournament. During that same year, she surpassed Utah University’s Keith Van Horn as the Western Athletic Conference’s all-time leading scorer.

Even after such a great collegiate career, in 1999 Hammon was not selected in the WNBA Draft. This gave Hammon the opportunity to prove herself to others. Little did she know, this experience would be helpful when applying for a job 15 years later. Hammon’s playing career came to an end when the San Antonio Stars lost in the WNBA playoffs to the Minnesota Lynx.

As they say, one game does not define your career; this is certainly a true statement when talking about Hammon’s career. Hammon amassed staggering career numbers and honors during her career. In addition to over 5000 career points, she is also one of only eight members of the WNBA 3000\800 club, reaching 3000 career points and 800 assists. Hammon is also the second member in the WNBA to represent both the East and West teams in the WNBA All-Star Game. In 2007, she finished second in the MVP voting and was named to the WNBA first-team. This is certainly a very impressive resume for an NBA assistant coach.

A great coach stays poised during stressful or potentially stressful moments, although Hammon has not yet coached her first NBA game, she has already exhibited this attribute. During her introductory press conference, Hammon was asked if there was any added pressure to do well, because she is the first woman to be a full-time assistant coach in the NBA. Hammon calmly and without hesitation responded by saying, “I am just like any other coach; I want to help this team in any way possible, whether it be by motivating them helping them on the court, or just getting the best out of them”, She continued by saying, “I am sure Pop,” referring to Spurs’ Head Coach Greg Popovich, “will yell at me soon enough, just like the rest of them.” This attribute is so important, because players sense when their coach is nervous, even when they don’t verbalize it.

In response to their coach’s nervous feeling, players sometimes tend to try and do too much, which can sometimes lead to players making costly mistakes. Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Less Traveled”, says in part, “Two roads diverged by a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Becky Hammon took the road less traveled, but to her that didn’t matter; all she wanted was to be a part of the game she loves in any way possible.