Bucks Interview Hammon: Why the Hype

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The Milwaukee Bucks are bringing in Becky Hammon for another interview to join their team in a leadership role. Last summer, they brought her in to interview for the General Manager position. They eventually went in house and signed Jon Horst. Apparently, the interview went well enough that the Bucks ownership team, Wes Edens, and Showtime’s Billions’ own Marc Larsy, would consider her for a significantly different role, Head Coach.

Baller Back Story: 

Hammon is one of those stories where she had to fight for everything her entire career. She grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota. Rapid City currently has a population of around 74,000 people, the second biggest city in her home state, but it’s still isolated in South Dakota. She received very little interest heading into her college career, leaving her to sign with the Colorado State Rams. She instantly became the star of the formerly WAC program, earning All American honors three times, and leading them to the Sweet Sixteen in 1999. CSU retired her jersey, 25, in 2005. She’s certainly a respected basketball mind at her stomping grounds. She interviewed for the Colorado State Men’s Basketball team head coaching position early in March. She would withdraw from consideration.

Despite her continued success in college, the WNBA did not call her name during the 1999 draft. This forced her to do what she’s always done, fight with the true basketball spirit. She had to believe in herself and play in a noticeable way. Hammon was signed by the New York Liberty as an undrafted rookie. She played sparingly her rookie season, appearing in 30 games, averaging 2.7 points, and 0.6 assists per game. Note: The WNBA played 32 games in 1999, and 34 games per season since 2003.

My favorite thing about basketball is the offseason. You can tell which players are spending their summer months isolated (with a few friends) on a basketball court. It’s easy to see Giannis Antetokounmpo has more fun isolated, working on his game, then he does flying his private party helicopter from city to city. (I love AI, and that side of basketball as well). Watching Hammon play, it’s not hard to see that she is obsessed with the game of basketball. She reads defenses perfectly, knows when to attack, which angle to take, and sets up her counter move with a knowing ease.

It’s not a surprise playing South Park’s Captain Hindsight for this article, that she came back and earned herself a much larger role for the New York Liberty in 2000. The Spurs assistant averaged 11 points, two rebounds, and two assists per game. She was overlooked by the basketball community as usual, and used her obsession to become a dangerous rotation player. One step up.

The next two seasons she was a consistent role player for the Liberty, but her minutes per game actually declined. Right when she was ready to take over as the starting point guard, she had to sit back and rehab from an ACL tear. Losing an offseason can be detrimental to a players development. You only get so many summers. Hammons came back as the star point guard she deserved to be.

The rest of WNBA career was very respectable. She would be traded to San Antonio, where she earned the nickname “Big Shot Becky”. I just learned of this nickname researching for this article, and as a Mike “Big Game Bibby” fan, I like her even more. I’m in no way surprised that she earned that nickname. I didn’t watch many of her games, but I got really into her Russia Olympics team era.

Speaking to her pure basketball spirit, when she was overlooked by the USA National Team, Becky went on a personal journey to prove that she should be playing in the Olympics. As a kid, I dreamed of playing for any country that would have me in the Olympics someday, while practicing my jump shot in the driveway. Knowing I could never play for the USA team, I dreamed of playing my hardest against them. Ignore my delusions of grandeur, to see someone pursue this somewhat controversial dream had me all-in.

She signed a four year contract for In 2008, a 31 year old Becky led the Russian National Team to a semifinal match up against the USA National Team. She would lose to the team that passed on her 67-52. Just to play in that game, had to be incredibly rewarding for her basketball spirit. They would go on to win the bronze medal game, earning her an Olympic medal, something her home country wouldn’t allow her to do. That’s what makes basketball so great, spite, and aspirations.

I watched a lot of the 2012 London Olympics, it was very clear that she had game. As previously stated, she just knows what to do, and exactly when to do it. She couldn’t carry the Russian team to the heights she wanted, but playing in the Olympics, and against the USA National Team, may put the biggest, prideful smirk on her face than any other basketball accomplishment.  She led them to the bronze medal game, where they fell to Australia, falling short of her second bronze medal.

Bucks Coaching Search: 

Becky Hammon has every personality trait I would look for in a basketball player. I’m very confident that she see’s the game at the level necessary to be a coach, but I have absolutely no idea if she’s ready to take the reigns of a roster that doesn’t always bring their best effort. I don’t know if any coach we can hire this season is ready for that task. If you can get this roster to play hard every night, I think they instantly become a threat in the East. But that’s not as 2+2 as a lot of people seem to think, pride is a personality trait on some level.

As far as a Coach-Giannis relationship, I think they would work great together. They would bond over trying to win very easily. Both of them have the same obvious love for the game, and the work ethic necessary to be basketball legends. Now, after the Jason Kidd experiment, I’m not sure how willing they’ll be to hire a recently retired, star point guard near the start of their coaching career. The owners need to succeed, or they’ll lose the best player they’ve had since Kareem.

I do think she would implement a lot of Coach Popovich inspired schemes. She learned under the best, and has an elite basketball IQ. I doubt she would throw the insight into a trashcan. Jason Kidd played under Rich Carlisle, so it’s not like he wasn’t around great basketball minds he could pay attention to, and learn from.  But, you can’t develop coaching skills as a player like you can an assistant coach.

She’s walking into her second interview with this group, so it is very much a possibility she ends up being the choice. That being said, it’s hard to predict how the owners and Jon Horst will proceed with this coaching search. She’s a high risk, high reward candidate, mostly just due to where the franchise sits. A lot of the reported candidates the Bucks have been linked to are fairly uninspiring to me. I could get behind the hiring of Becky Hammon, and I have very little PC energy in my bones. She’s the real deal.

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