AP Photo/Nick Wass
Becky Hammon interviewed for the Portland Trail Blazers’ head coaching vacancy, but she knew all along Chauncey Billups was the favorite for the job.
“I knew I was second; I knew who they wanted,” Hammon told Jabari Young of CNBC. “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.”
Billups was announced as the Trail Blazers’ new coach on June 27, replacing Terry Stotts.
The hire wasn’t a surprise in NBA circles with Billups and Jason Kidd considered the top two candidates right out of the gate, per Jason Quick and Shams Charania of The Athletic. All-Star guard Damian Lillard also approved of the duo once Stotts was fired.
Once Jason Kidd took himself out of the running—he was eventually hired by the Dallas Mavericks—it seemingly became Billups’ job to lose.
Hammon thought the interviews were still “authentic,” while general manager Neil Olshey praised the San Antonio Spurs assistant for her work during the process.
“We obviously admire Becky,” Olshey told reporters. “She did a great job. Making it as far as the owner in the process isn’t easy. She made it all the way to the ownership level, which is an endorsement.”
It still wasn’t enough for her to become the first woman head coach in NBA history.
Hammon, meanwhile, isn’t upset about how things worked out with Portland.
“I’m not mad,” she said. “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.”
The former WNBA All-Star has spent the past seven years as an assistant coach working under Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.