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Becky Hammon knew she wasn’t the Blazers top choice for head coach

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It sounds like Portland knew they were hiring Billups the whole time, so why put Hammon through the ringer?

NBA: Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few weeks, the Portland Trail Blazers have been in damage control mode. First, there was backlash for their hiring of Chauncey Billups as their new head coach, especially after the news that he settled a civil suit with a woman over rape allegations back in 1997 was brought to light. Then, possibly to perform some damage control, they came up with an explanation as to why they didn’t hire Spurs assistant couch Becky Hammon, which included some not-so-flattering “reviews” about her coaching abilities that allegedly came from other sources around the league, including the Spurs.

For first time since then, she is speaking up about the process in an interview with CNBC’s Jabari Young, saying there are no hard feelings, and she knew the entire time that Billups was the favorite over her.

“I knew I was second; I knew who they wanted. And I’m OK with that, because every race I’ve gotten into my entire life, I’ve been behind, and I’m OK with that. And that’s just how it is — but at the same time, I’m not ignorant to what I’m going up against.”

“I’m not mad. This is the business, and it’s a very competitive business. But, at the end of the day, throw everything out the window — if you want to hire me, you’ll find a reason to hire me. And if you don’t want to hire me, you’ll find that reason, too. And that’s just that.”

Obviously, even if a team knows who their favorite candidate is, it’s always wise (and in some industries required) to interview multiple people. That being said, if Hammon knew the entire time that Billups was the favorite and she was merely no. 2, it seems to confirm the idea that she was more of a “PR interview” for Portland that anything. It also again begs the questions of why did the Trail Blazers let it be known that she was the owner’s favorite before not hiring her, and also why did they then put her reputation through the ringer after the fact? It still reeks of some fishy business.

As for the “poor reviews” that allegedly came in-part from the Spurs, she said she doesn’t read the “tabloids”, and although the Spurs have remained quiet on that front, that, along with her further response, sounds like she believes it’s not true.

“I take each experience, and I try to grow from it, and learn from it, and get better for the next time. If people need to justify a reason to why they did or didn’t hire me, it’s a little out of my realm of control. I just try to do the best I can in the moment I’m given.”

“I know how San Antonio has valued me, and I’m OK with that.”

Finally, she said she’s not content and is ready to be a head coach and deal with all the challenges that come with it, whether it’s with the Spurs or somewhere else, but only if the team that hires her feels she’s the best for the job and is not just looking to make history.

“I need to be the right coach — not male or female — the right coach, for the right team, in the right city, at the right time.”

“I’m ready to be scrutinized. Whether I do it all wrong or do it all right — it is what it is. My job is to show up for the players and be the leader and person that believes in them the most.”

Like many Spurs fans, I remain hopeful that the right place is here in San Antonio, but regardless of where her first head coaching job will be, everyone will be ready to cheer her on. She’s earned it.