— WNBA (@WNBA) July 21, 2015
“Bring the juice!” is Spurs coach Becky Hammon’s favorite phrase, and she uses it often to motivate her players, demanding energy and confidence in every game.
Showing yet again that she takes her own advice and runs with it, Hammon, who already made history earlier this summer as the first woman head coach of an NBA summer league team, brought relentless energy to Las Vegas on Monday night when she led the San Antonio Spurs to a 93-90 victory over the Phoenix Suns—claiming the Summer League championship title.
The former WNBA star is no stranger to breaking the glass ceiling in the NBA. Last season she became the first woman hired as a full-time assistant coach when she joined the Spurs and has since been building her record of work under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, considered to be one of, if not the best, head coaches in the NBA. Hammon’s latest victory shows that regardless of gender, she is able to seize opportunities and blow the competition out of the water with a knowledgeable coaching style.
Although coaching a summer league team typically doesn’t garner the same level of respect as the regular league, many sports writers have commented on the unique quality of the Spurs’ performance under Hammon. CBS Sports noted that the rookie team looked and played like the regular team—a feat that could only be achieved by work from an excellent coach. The nature of the summer league makes coaching a challenge because players and coaches have a very small window of time to mesh as a team and run plays. The fact that the Spurs were able to win six consecutive games after just one loss is a testament to Hammon’s ability to bring players together, command respect and communicate.
Player and Summer League Championship MVP Jonathon Simmons told NBATV about working with Hammon: “It was amazing. It was a humbling experience…For all of us. I really love her and I’ve only known her a couple days. She’s a real cool coach. She’s a player coach. That’s something we all like.”
Echoing Simmons, Spurs forward Jarrell Eddie told The Guardian, “She’s intense but she’s not a screamer…She does her job and she does it well.”
Aside from her players’ support, Hammon’s coaching style has already received praise from numerous sources, including former NBA executive Bobby Marks, who tweeted about Hammon’s career prospects:
Despite projections of a possible climb to head coach status from writers and reporters, Hammon is staying focused. “You never know what your journey has in store,” Hammon told Sports Illustrated after the Vegas win. “You just work hard and keep your nose to the grind. You do things the right way, you treat people the right way, and good things happen….I’m just thankful that [Popovich] trusted me with the guys in that locker room, and that those guys trusted me back.”
Hopefully this won’t be the last time Becky Hammon emerges from an NBA locker room covered in Gatorade.