Why did Aces head coach Becky Hammon leave Spurs?  Charting path to becoming WNBA's highest paid coach

Why did Aces head coach Becky Hammon leave Spurs? Charting path to becoming WNBA’s highest paid coach

In her first year as head coach of the Las Vegas Aces, Becky Hammon’s impact on the franchise has been undeniable.

After spending eight seasons as an assistant under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs, Hammon made the leap into head coaching on the WNBA side, building on the legacy she forged as an all-time great player.

With Hammon on the sidelines, the Aces earned the league’s best record, superstar forward A’ja Wilson turned in a career year and former No. 1 overall pick Kelsey Plum emerged into stardom. And those are just a few of the tangible results of Hammon’s impact that resulted in Coach of the Year honors.

Now, as Hammon looks to lead the franchise she once starred for to her first-ever title, look back to the journey that led her to this point.

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Why did Aces head coach Becky Hammon leave Spurs?

Before focusing on the end of her tenure in San Antonio, it’s important to note how Hammon got her start.

During the final years of her 16-year WNBA career, Hammon expressed an interest in becoming a coach once she retired from the game. A star guard for the then-San Antonio Stars, a transition to working with the Spurs after his career was both seamless and historic.

After officially retiring from the WNBA in 2014, Hammon was hired by the Spurs as the first-ever full-time, paid female assistant on an NBA coaching staff. In San Antonio, Hammon quickly made a name as one of the best up-and-coming coaching talents.

In 2015, Hammon was named head coach of the Spurs at the Las Vegas Summer League. There, she made more history by leading the Spurs to the 2015 Summer League title.

Throughout her time coaching in San Antonio, Hammon was in the business of making history. Perhaps no moment was bigger than when Hammon became the first female acting head coach in NBA history after Gregg Popovich was ejected from a game in December of 2020.

As Hammon quickly rose up the ranks, her focus shifted to becoming a head coach in the league. As such, she interviewed for a number of NBA jobs, including to be general manager of the Bucks as well as head coaching jobs with the Pacers and Trail Blazersbut other candidates would ultimately be chosen each time.

In December of 2021, it was announced that Hammon would be taking a head coaching job in the WNBA, leaving the Spurs at the end of the 2021-22 season to lead the Aces.

Months following the initial news, Aces owner Mark Davis confirmed that Hammon’s salary as the franchise’s head coach would exceed $1 million, a historic figure for a WNBA coach. Simply put, Hammon moved on to the Spurs to realize her goal of becoming a head coach, commanding a record-breaking salary in the process.

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Becky Hammon playing career

A 5-foot-6 guard, Hammon forged a Hall of Fame-worthy WNBA career after going undrafted in 1999.

Hammon got her start with the New York Liberty, where she played sparingly as a rookie before garnering a big role in her second season. By her fifth season, Hammon was an All-Star. In Year 6, she became a full-time starter.

Over eight seasons with the Liberty, Hammon averaged 10.4 points per game, earned three All-Star selections and a Second Team All-WNBA selection before she was traded to San Antonio in 2007.

The best years of Hammon’s career came with the San Antonio Stars. She averaged 15.6 points over eight seasons, including a three-season run from 2007 to 2009 in which she averaged 18.6 points and 5.0 assists per game.

In San Antonio, Hammon added three more All-Star selections and three All-WNBA selections before retiring after the 2014 season.

Because of her impact on the franchise, Hammon’s No. 25 was retired in a 2016 ceremony.

In 2018, the Stars franchise relocated to Las Vegas, rebranding to the Aces, which details the connection Hammon still holds to the franchise. To commemorate his impact on the franchise, the Aces retired Hammon’s No. 25 in a ceremony during the 2021 WNBA season.

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