Becky Hammon: The Las Vegas Aces history maker passed over by the NBA

Becky Hammon Las Vegas Aces

Silencing doubters is something that WNBA coach Becky Hammon is no stranger to.

Throughout her entire basketball career, the player turned coach has written her name in the history books.

Last weekend, Hammon became the first head coach in WNBA history to win a title during her debut season after she spearheaded the Las Vegas Aces to their first Championship.

The 2022 Finals saw the Aces beat the Connecticut Sun in spectacular fashion, marking a historic milestone for the players and their coach.

But based on Hammon’s inspiring ‘never say die’ career, it’s no real surprise that she has achieved such a landmark in her first season with the Las Vegas outfit.

Who is Becky Hammon?

Hammon is an American-Russian ex-basketball player who has built her legacy solely on self-belief.

The former point guard started her collegiate career in 1995 at Colorado State University and by the end of her tenure, she was the most prolific scorer in the history of the program.

Hammon was inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame and her No.25 jersey was retired 20 years after her college debut.

She achieved this despite being told, at 5-foot-6, that she was too short and too slow to make it in the top division of college basketball.

Against all odds, such an astonishing amateur foundation would have surely set her up for an immediate ascension to professional level. Yet the history-making rookie found herself undrafted in what should have been her breakthrough year.

UNCASVILLE, CONNECTICUT – SEPTEMBER 18: Riquna Williams #2 of the Las Vegas Aces celebrates with head coach Becky Hammon after defeating the Connecticut Sun 78-71 in game four to win the 2022 WNBA Finals at Mohegan Sun Arena on September 18, 2022 in Uncasville, Connecticut. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Hammon joined the New York Liberty in 1999 and despite even more doubt being cast on her, she went on to become a six-time WNBA All-Star and was named twice in the All-WNBA first team.

She was also included in the 15th, 20th and 25th WNBA Anniversary Team.

On the international stage, Hammon won bronze with Team Russia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Hammon called time on her professional playing career in 2014, and the San Antonio Silver Stars — with whom she was named WNBA All-Star three times — retired her jersey.

PHOENIX, AZ – AUGUST 20: Becky Hammon #25 of the San Antonio Silver Stars reacts during the WNBA game against the Phoenix Mercury at US Airways Center on August 20, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mercury defeated the Silver Stars 87-81. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

A history-making coach

Not only was Hammon’s ability overlooked as a player, but she was doubted as she entered her coaching career as well.

However, she is already used to silencing those against her, and has gone on to become a trailblazer in this second chapter.

In 2014, she joined the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach, becoming just the second female NBA coach in history.

Hammon made history when she led the Spurs’ summer league team the following year and became the first-ever female head coach to take charge in the NBA Summer League and win the title.

In 2017, following the ejection of Gregg Popovich, she stepped up as acting head coach of the Spurs, becoming the first woman to take on the role.

It was expected that Hammon would soon become the first female head coach in one of the four major men’s professional leagues in the United States, but no NBA side seemed willing to take a chance on her.

Instead, Hammon was appointed at the hilt of the Las Vegas Aces, becoming the only Russian to ever coach a WNBA side.

The Aces marked a monumental milestone when they won their first title last weekend, and saw their coach become the first rookie in history to claim the trophy.

The Nevada-based side finished the season by beating Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm and finally the Connecticut Sun in the play-offs.

Former President of the United States Barack Obama was among the many to applaud what the Aces and Hammon achieved.

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