In the world we live in, that will naturally bring out some naysayers, but if anyone wants to doubt her qualifications, Pau Gasol is here to set the record straight. In an open letter in The Players’ Tribune, he eviscerated a few “misconceptions” about female coaches in the NBA, and not from your average sports fan who can anonymously hide behind the invisible wall known as “the internet”.
No, we’re talking about some shockingly poor takes from some well-known names in the sports media world. There’s longtime radio host Mike Francesa, whose cringe-worthy argument against women includes that they are not players, are unqualified, and cannot manage 25 men. He also claims Hammon’s name is only out there because of Gregg Popovich and his status as a coach, not her qualifications.
Then there’s former staffer for the Phoenix Suns and current ESPN commentator Amin Elhassan, who believes prior NBA playing experience fulfills one prerequisite for coaching consideration but a 15-year WNBA career does not. He, along with popular podcaster Big Wos, also believes that she is “skipping the line” and there are more qualified people ahead of her still waiting for a shot, “namely black people”. I guess one minority has to wait its turn behind another (even if one has already broken the barrier)?
In his piece, Gasol shoots these assumptions down in every way imaginable, leaving little doubt via his own experience that women, specifically Hammon, are qualified for the job.
If you’re making that argument to anyone who’s actually played any high-level basketball, you’re going to seem really ignorant. But I also have a simple response to it — which is that I’ve been in the NBA for 17 years. I’ve won two championships … 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. 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.
I encourage you to read the whole thing. Whatever you think of Gasol’s contract and/or performance on the court, if his charity work didn’t make you think highly enough of him, then this should blow any misconception about him as a person out as well.