Coming off a 2014 NBA Championship, the San Antonio Spurs added to the depth of their coaching staff with the hire of Becky Hammon as an assistant coach. But this isn't an everyday-type of hire. Hammon, the former WNBA star who is finishing up her 16th year in the league, will be the first woman paid to serve as an assistant coach in NBA history.
"I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. "Having observed her working with our team this past season, I'm confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs."
Splitting her time between the New York Liberty and San Antonio Silver Stars, her current squad, Hammon was a prolific shooter, finding herself second on the WNBA's list of career three-pointers made. The six-time All-Star played the sixth-most games in league history and recorded the fourth-most assists. Outside of the WNBA, Hammon took home a bronze medal as a member of the U.S. Women's National Team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and was inducted into Colorado State University's Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
The Spurs' historic move might not have been possible without the pioneer work of those who came before Hammon. Lisa Boyer, who is currently on staff with South Carolina's women's basketball team, was the first to break through to the NBA, joining the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001 as a "volunteer" coach. Ashly McElhiney was next in line, hired in 2004 at the age of 22 to coach the Nashville Rhythm, an expansion team in the American Basketball Association (ABA). McElhiney led the team to a 21-10 record.
Finally, Nancy Lieberman was head coach of the NBA Development League's Texas Legends, the Dallas Mavericks affiliate, before she was made assistant general manager of the team in 2011 to spend more time with her family. "I truly believe that every woman can attain both their personal and professional goals," Lieberman said at the time. "My position as assistant general manager allows me to balance my schedule while maintaining my professional goals."