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updated: 8/8/2014 7:17 PM

Expect feisty Hammon to prove naysayers wrong

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  • When WNBA star Becky Hammon was named an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday and became the first woman in history to join an NBA coaching staff on a full-time basis, some negative comments attached to the online stories about Hammon were so typical that they're well beyond cliché, according to Patricia Babcock McGraw.

      When WNBA star Becky Hammon was named an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday and became the first woman in history to join an NBA coaching staff on a full-time basis, some negative comments attached to the online stories about Hammon were so typical that they're well beyond cliché, according to Patricia Babcock McGraw.
    Associated Press

  • When WNBA star Becky Hammon was named an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday and became the first woman in history to join an NBA coaching staff on a full-time basis, some negative comments attached to the online stories about Hammon were so typical that they're well beyond cliché, according to Patricia Babcock McGraw.

      When WNBA star Becky Hammon was named an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday and became the first woman in history to join an NBA coaching staff on a full-time basis, some negative comments attached to the online stories about Hammon were so typical that they're well beyond cliché, according to Patricia Babcock McGraw.
    Associated Press

 
 

As usual, the haters were hating.

WNBA star point guard Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Stars was named an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, becoming the first woman in history to join an NBA coaching staff on a full-time basis.

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I knew what I was in for when I read the coverage, and the "commentary."

Some people wished Hammon well, but many just couldn't resist the usual pot shots.

The negative comments attached to the online stories about Hammon were so typical that they're well beyond cliché. The "what does a woman know about sports" innuendo, and even worse, is so tired.

Not that Hammon will let it wear on her.

The spunky 5-foot-6, 37-year-old, who is a 16-year veteran of the WNBA, seems to relish the role of pioneer, and she doesn't seem deterred by the pushback that often accompanies it.

Hammon is well-versed at beating the odds and facing adversity.

Back in 1999 when she was a senior at Colorado State, Hammon got passed over by WNBA general managers. She went undrafted.

But she scratched and clawed to work her way onto the New York Liberty roster, where she served as a back-up to the legendary Teresa Weatherspoon. Hammon's hustle and scrappiness made her a fan favorite -- and four years later, she became a starter.

In 2008, Hammon stirred up all kinds of controversy when she chose to apply for Russian citizenship so that she could play in the Olympics.

Tired of being passed over for the U.S. team, Hammon accepted a bittersweet offer from the Russian team that she played for during the WNBA off-seasons. By becoming a Russian citizen, Hammon could earn more money on her team there, and she would become a top prospect for the Russian Olympic team.

In exchange, she would never be able to play for the U.S. Olympic team, even if the opportunity would somehow arise.

Hammon, born and bred in South Dakota, struggled with the decision and with the idea that some would look at her as a traitor. But playing in the Olympics was her dream, and she figured that being a Russian Olympian was better than never being an Olympian at all.

She helped Russia earn a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Other athletes have since walked the same path as Hammon, but at the time, she was one of the first well-known American athletes to compete in the Olympics for another country.

It didn't sit well with some.

The message boards lit up, and even some of Hammon's contemporaries spoke up.

Anne Donovan, then coach of Team USA and now the coach of the Connecticut Sun, said at the time: "If you play in this country, live in this country and you grow up in the heartland and you put on a Russian uniform, you are not a patriotic person in my mind."

In typical spunky Hammon fashion, Hammon shot back.

"You don't know me. You don't know what that flag means to me, You don't know how I grew up," said Hammon when told of Donovan's comments. "The biggest honor in our classroom was who could put up the flag, roll it up right, not let the corners touch the ground. Obviously, we definitely define patriotism differently."

Obviously, Hammon can hold her own.

I'm not worried about whether or not she can handle a bunch of NBA players. They should be worried about whether or not they can handle her.

By the way:

This argument that some people make that women shouldn't be coaching men is absurd. There are good male coaches who coach women. No one questions that.

What is the difference?

Would former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt be out of her league coaching an NBA team in her prime?

Good coaches are good coaches, no matter who they're coaching.

Winding down:

The Chicago Bandits and Chicago Red Stars are coming up on their last homestands of the regular season.

The Bandits will host the Akron Racers for four games beginning Wednesday. The series finale will be on Sunday, Aug. 17.

At 24-16, the Bandits sit in second place in the National Pro Fastpitch standings, behind the USSSA Pride, with Akron third.

The Red Stars are down to their final three regular-season games, all at home, starting tonight at 7 p.m. against FC Kansas City. At 7-7-7, the Red Stars are fifth in the National Women's Soccer League standings.

Playoff push:

Just like the Bandits and the Red Stars, the Chicago Sky is also heading around the final turn. Just four regular-season games remain and each will have playoff implications.

At 13-17, the Sky is fourth place in the Eastern Conference and would snag the final postseason spot if the playoffs started today. But New York (12-16) is keeping pace. Both teams are 4½ games out of first place, but the Sky is fourth by virtue of having 1 more win.

The Sky hosts first-place Atlanta (17-12) on Sunday at 5 p.m. and will close with a home game against the San Antonio Stars on Sunday, Aug. 17.

• Patricia Babcock McGraw has been covering the Chicago Sky since its inception in 2006. She is also a sideline reporter for Sky television broadcasts. You may reach her at: pbabcock@dailyherald.com

Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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