Silver proud of Becky Hammon, says woman could be NBA coach

NEWARK, N.J. -- Adam Silver has "no doubt" the NBA could see a day when Becky Hammon or another woman is a head coach.

The commissioner said Wednesday he had texted and emailed with Hammon while they were in Las Vegas, where she coached the San Antonio Spurs to the summer league championship Monday night. He praised the San Antonio organization for hiring her last season as the first full-time female assistant in the NBA and putting her in charge of its entry in the Vegas league.

"No different than for me in coming up in my career. Unless you're given those opportunities, you're never going to show your ability to be successful," Silver said. "So I'm enormously proud of her, and I'm enormously proud of the players who've quickly seen that she's a top-notch coach and have been willing to follow her."

Hammon is a former WNBA star who had been hired by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich last summer before ending her playing career in San Antonio. After assisting him on a variety of coaching responsibilities during the season, Hammon ran the team in the NBA's top summer league.

The Spurs lost their first game then won the remaining six, including beating Phoenix on Monday for the title. Silver had already returned from Las Vegas but watched the game on NBA TV.

Silver was speaking at the "Beyond Sport United" program, where he joined former NBA star and league global ambassador Dikembe Mutombo and women's great Teresa Edwards on a panel discussing the social responsibilities of the league and its players.

He believes with more women playing in the WNBA or working in the NBA, and with so many men's players having women who have played in their families, there will be more opportunities for women like the one Hammon got.

"I think just like we've seen enormous change in our society, just in the last decade, I think that's another ceiling, another barrier that will be broken," Silver said. "And it takes women like Becky being out there.

"You need pioneers, and there's been other pioneers before her, but I think you couldn't ask for more of a complete package in terms of former player, student of the game and someone who's able to work within a strong organization like the Spurs."

Charles Barkley also weighed in on the topic during an appearance Thursday on Mike & Mike.

"At some point there's going to be a female coach in the NBA, and more power to them," said Barkley, who added that he thought Pat Summitt would have made a great coach in the league.

But Barkley said success all depends on the players.

"Becky Hammon had a much better chance at winning with the Spurs than she had with the Sacramento Kings," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.