Becky Hammon isn’t bitter about not getting the job as head coach of the Trail Blazers, but she’s ready for a more prominent role in the league.
In an interview with CNBC on Saturday, the six-time WNBA All-Star opened up about not getting the job in Portland, for which she was a finalist and would’ve made her the first female head coach in the NBA. She said she is now focused on taking the next steps in her career. Hammon, who is the first female full-time assistant coach in the league with the Spurs, also pointed out that the experience gave her a greater understanding of the hiring process.
“I’m not mad,” the 44-year-old 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.”
The Trail Blazers ultimately hired Chauncey Billups, an NBA championship-winning guard who has a relationship with Portland general manager Neil Olshey. During Billups’ introductory press conference last month, Olshey said Hammon coming as close as she did was an “endorsement to just how far she’s come and how close she is to being a head coach.”
“We absolutely admire Becky,” Olshey said. “She did a great job. Obviously, making it as far as the ownership level of an interview process isn’t easy.”
Olshey also had to defend his decision to hire Billups, who had rape allegations from 1997 resurface and prompt significant backlash against the Trail Blazers. There were swirling rumors that the team interviewed Hammon as a form of damage control. Whatever the case, Hammon wants to take this experience and use it to help her the next time an opportunity comes around.
“I take each experience, and I try to grow from it, and learn from it, and get better for the next time,” Hammon said. “If people need to justify a reason to why they did or didn’t hire me, it’s a little out of my realm of control. I just try to do the best I can in the moment I’m given.”
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