Opinion: Nobody did it better than Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and college basketball won't be the same without him
Why Duke's Mike Krzyzewski will walk off the floor at Cameron Indoor Arena next March as the greatest college basketball coach of all time. For many reasons, that will not be a unanimous view. John Wooden won more national titles, Roy Williams and Dean Smith won a higher percentage of their games and others like Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo are widely considered superior tacticians. Some critics could even argue that despite the five national titles Krzyzewski won, he probably should have had a few more.
A new billboard near the Boston Celtics’ practice facility reads, “Hey Brad, it’s time to shake it up. Hire Kara or Becky!”
That’s in reference to the open Celtics head coaching job and former Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson and San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon.
Who will shake it up? Which NBA team will become the first to hire a woman as head coach? Boston? Portland? Indiana? Orlando?
From NFL plays to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day.
Hammon, who interviewed for the Indiana job last year and the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018, will receive consideration this year. She is scheduled for an interview with Portland, and Orlando plans to interview her, too.
Opinion: With choice of Jon Scheyer as Mike Krzyzewski's replacement, Duke follows own history
Jon Scheyer joined Mike Krzyzewski's coaching bench in April 2013 and was a member of the 2010 team that won the NCAA championship.Speculation about future successors has been going on for years, so the school wasn't caught flat-footed when Krzyzewski finally made the decision to walk away. There were plenty of former Duke players and assistants on his coaching tree to choose from. Names that had been discussed for more than a decade with each going up and down as they navigated their careers as head coaches.
The Magic are an intriguing option and have a progressive front office led by Jeff Weltman and John Hammond. Becky Bonner is the team’s director of player development and basketball operations, joining the franchise in 2017. Bonner is one of a few female executives in basketball operations in the league.
Hammon appears to be the logical choice to become the first female coach to lead an NBA team. She has been with the Spurs as an assistant coach for the past seven seasons, a front of bench assistant for the past three years and she coached the Spurs’ Summer League team in 2015, 2016 and 2019.
Jason Kidd says he won't be candidate for Portland Trail Blazers' coaching vacancy despite Damian Lillard endorsement
Lakers assistant Jason Kidd says he is not going to be a candidate for the Trail Blazers' head-coaching vacancy despite Damian Lillard's endorsement."Portland's a first-class organization and will have great candidates for its head coaching job, but I've decided not to be one of them," Kidd told ESPN.com. "Whoever they choose will have big shoes to fill from Terry [Stotts].
Earlier this season, Hammon became the first woman to serve as the head coach after Gregg Popovich was ejected. “Obviously, it’s a big deal,” Hammon said on Dec. 30. “It’s a substantial moment.”
Another substantial moment awaits.
For the past few seasons, people from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to former WNBA and G League coach and NBA assistant coach Nancy Lieberman said a woman will be hired as a head coach soon.
How soon is soon? In an interview last season with USA TODAY Sports, NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said, “We want it to happen organically, and when the right opportunity matches the right person, this will happen. We just feel we’re so well positioned. If it happens tomorrow or the next day or this season or a few seasons away, we’re really close. But we’re not putting a timetable on it."
NBA playoffs: How Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell dominated in Game 1 win despite illness and sluggish start
After battling a tough start, Donovan Mitchell scored 45 points to lead the Jazz to a Game 1 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.“You just keep getting your mind right, and it overcomes everything,” Snyder told Mitchell.
Lieberman told USA TODAY Sports: “It’s right in front of us. It’s going to happen.”
Hammon has put in the work. She runs portions of practices, writes game plans and scouting reports for opponents and delivers the intel to the team and works with players on individual development.
“Becky’s in a spot now where she’s in a position of power,” Spurs guard Patty Mills told USA TODAY Sports. “She’s able to direct guys on what to do and that all comes from work ethic and what she does behind the scenes and getting herself and our team ready for games. She is an NBA coach who knows her (expletive) and gets it done.”
Former NBA center Pau Gasol, who played for the Spurs, professed his unwavering support for Hammon in a story he wrote for The Player’s Tribune three years ago.
“I’ve played with some of the best players of this generation … and I’ve played under two of the sharpest minds in the history of sports, in Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich,” Gasol wrote. “And I’m telling you: Becky Hammon can coach. I’m not saying she can coach pretty well. I’m not saying she can coach enough to get by. I’m not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA’s male coaches. I’m saying: Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball. Period.”
How NBA players and coaches navigated this season a year after experiencing the bubble
Some NBA coaches and players painted a clear picture on how the mental toll of this season compared to life in the NBA bubble. Clearly, no one misses spending up to three months on the Disney campus. “Being in the bubble kind of felt like prison,” Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said. “You couldn’t leave. We only ate about three or four of the same meals every single day for three months, and we didn’t see family. So that was really tough.” Clearly, everyone savors the relatively expanded freedoms allowed during this season. “This year has been easier because I have outlets,” L.A.
Hammon played college basketball at Colorado State and professionally in the WNBA and Europe, including several seasons in Russia. She finished her WNBA career with the San Antonio Stars in 2014 and remained with organization.
Said Popovich: “She’s somebody who’s very skilled and could easily fulfill the duties of a head coach in the NBA. There are women in every other endeavor in the world whether it’s government, science, technology, aviation, it doesn’t matter what it is. Women do the same jobs as well and better than men. And that’s a fact. There’s no reason why somebody like Becky and other women can’t be coaches in the NBA.”
Hammon isn’t the only woman who will interview for an opening. The Blazers have received permissions to speak with South Carolina women’s coach Dawn Staley, who led her team to the 2017 NCAA championship. While Lawson hasn’t been interviewed by any team yet, she was a Celtics assistant coach in 2019-20 before becoming the women’s head coach at Duke in 2020-21.
American recording artists Beyonce and Jay-Z leave their seats for halftime during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks at Barclays Center on June 5.
Lindsey Vonn (left) poses with Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty after the second half of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series between the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on May 25, 2021.
New Car Gadget Magically Removes Scratches & Dents
Slideshow continues on the next slide
Fans sit among cardboard cutouts during Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks May 22, 2021, in Los Angeles.
Drake poses for a picture with a young fan after watching an NBA basketball Western Conference Play-In game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors on May 19, 2021, in Los Angeles.