Udoka ‘very excited' for new WNBA head coach Becky Hammon


Ime Udoka is thrilled to see Becky Hammon join the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces for her first head-coaching job. But knowing Hammon's qualifications, the Boston Celtics head coach doesn't expect it to be long before his former San Antonio Spurs colleague returns to the NBA.

Udoka spent 2014-19 with Hammon on the Spurs' coaching staff. He also played for the Spurs from 2007-09 and 2010-11 while Hammon played for the WNBA's San Antonio Stars.

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Before Wednesday's Celtics-Spurs showdown, Udoka shared his thoughts on Hammon becoming a head coach for the first time.

"Very excited," Udoka said. "She's been plugging away for a while now and looking forward to the opportunity, so it was good to see her get the opportunity. We've seen what she's done in the past and I was there when she came on board and worked with her for several years, and so I know her mind and the way she thinks about the game and her feel as a player.

"Obviously, I was a player there when she was a player there, so we've known each other for a long time. Spent, obviously, several years, hours, dinners together. She picked my brain about certain things about the head-coaching interviews and all the process, and so good to see her get the opportunity."

Udoka was asked whether he believes Hammon will someday return to the NBA.

"You would think," Udoka said. "That'd be the natural progression, I'd say. She did mention it, something that all first-time head coaches hear is that 'you've never done it before,' so this is kind of checking off that box that she'll get a chance to do it other than Summer League and other things that she's done in the past. Just being out there showing that on a different stage will give her a different look coming back to the NBA possibly." 

A six-time WNBA All-Star, Hammon has been an assistant for Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich for the last eight years. In 2015, she became the first-ever female head coach in the NBA's Summer League and led San Antonio to a Summer League title.

Hammon also became the first woman to be part of an NBA All-Star coaching staff in 2016. Last season, she became the first female acting head coach in league history after Popovich was ejected from a game.

Her résumé already speaks for itself, but some head-coaching experience in the WNBA will only help Hammon's chances of landing an NBA head-coaching job sometime in the near future.

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