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Becky Hammon: Coaching in WNBA is a ‘balancing act’

Becky Hammon led the Las Vegas Aces to the No. 1 seed in the WNBA playoffs. (David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)

Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon is no stranger to coaching basketball.

In fact, she might have the most experience of anyone, having coached in both the NBA and WNBA. Her decision to leave the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant for a WNBA head coaching job with the Las Vegas Aces made headlines.

And then she helped the Aces to the WNBA championship, and had one of the best seasons for a first-year head coach in league history.

Hammon said during the “Laughter Permitted” podcast with Julie Foudy that there was a learning curve going from coaching men to coaching women.

“Everybody wants to know what the difference was,” said Hammon. “Look at the end of the day, like, we’re built different. Like, girls just want to have fun. That’s a thing.

“The guys, at moments you’ll see these, what they would consider vulnerability. But the girls they walk in, they just want to have a dance party. I’m like, we’re supposed to be stretching hamstrings. And you guys are like, straight up having a dance party like cut the music.”

Working with women required a “balancing act,” she says, as she was always wondering about whether or not the team was dialed in enough to the game. But while both sides had to learn one another’s tendencies, it didn’t take long.

“There is absolutely no reason why you can’t have fun at work,” she said.

The drive to compete was not absent on a team filled with players like A’ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray. But Hammon still knows that it’s her job as a coach to ensure that they’re able to compete to the best of their ability.

“At the end of the day, guys, we’re competitors,” she continued. “We’re coming for your throat, you know, we’re coming to win. And I think that combo is unique. Because you can probably count on one hand how many teams you’ve been on, where it had that kind of chemistry and vibe.

“I’m a big believer in, and like I said, fun is like a taboo thing, right? At the end of the day, we’re working with people. And if you can create an environment where people want to come to work, like you’re winning, you’re gonna win. Because, and I said this when I was a player because I felt it in my own life, happy players make better players. They will perform better when they are in a good space. And it’s my job to create that space.”