SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After more than two decades in the world of professional basketball as both a player and coach, Becky Hammon has claimed her first championship title.
Hammon’s basketball coach at Stevens High School said his former player has always been a sponge on the court.
“She wanted to know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it and, and really worked hard. I mean, and that’s kind of indicative of what she’s done in her professional career all the way through and her college career,” Ron Riherd said.
The Rapid City native spent 15 years in the WNBA as a player with the New York Liberty and the San Antonio Silver Stars. Following her playing career, Hammon then spent seven years with the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach. Hammon is no stranger to making history as she was the first female acting coach in the NBA after the Spurs coach was ejected during a game.
But despite her seven years with the team, Hammon was passed over as head coach and instead made the move back to the WNBA where she coached the Las Vegas Aces to their first WNBA championship win.
“She’s always felt like she was an underdog,” Riherd said. “Becky’s always had goals and she’s always tried to attain and reach those goals. And, if she didn’t make it, okay, we’re just gonna work that much harder. I mean, that’s just her attitude. When she took the Aces job, she said, ‘I looked at it, I realized it was a really good opportunity. The players they came down and visited with me.’ So, she said, ‘Coach, I think it’s a really good fit. I love where I’m at right now.'”
Riherd and Hammon have stayed close over the years with Riherd travelling to Colorado and New York during her college and professional career. When she coached for the Spurs, Riherd said Hammon invited him to practices and games.
Watching his former player work her way through the world of professional basketball has been exciting for the former Stevens coach.
“You’re just full of pride, you’re just so proud of what she’s done. And very, very happy for it. Because she’s such a great person,” Riherd said.
In addition to the championship title, Hammon was named the WNBA’s Coach of the Year, All-Star Head Coach, and had the #1 overall record.
“It’s been so much fun, so much fun,” Hammon said following the win Sunday night. “But you see them make shot after shot is pretty easy to have trust in them. They’re just big-time players. They love big moments. And I think that’s nothing I can teach that’s in their DNA. That’s who they are. And I just get to reap the benefits of being their coach.”