Las Vegas coach Becky Hammon denied that Dearica Hamby was bullied on her team over her pregnancy and said the unhappiness between the two stemmed from the swap.
HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) – Las Vegas Coach Becky Hammon on Wednesday denied that former Aces player Dearica Hamby was bullied on her team because of her pregnancy and said the unhappiness between the two stemmed from Hamby being traded.
Hammon, one of the league’s standouts, said in a video call with reporters that she did nothing to justify disciplinary action from the WNBA, which suspended her for two games without pay Tuesday after a month-long investigation into Hamby’s allegations.
“I’ll take my little bump on my chin and keep it moving,” Hammon said. “We’re bigger than that. It’s just not who the Aces are. It’s not who I am. And so, yes, everyone is disappointed in the situation, but at the end of the day we know who we are, and so we go to sleep in that truth every night.
Hammon said she once asked Hamby about her pregnancy but didn’t go into the details of her statement.
“I guess you’d have to get the[league’s]interpretation,” Hammon said. “But yes, as far as I know, that was my misstep, if you will.”
Hammon, who led the Aces to the WNBA championship in their freshman season last year, spent eight seasons as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs and is considered one of the rising stars in the basketball coaching world. She has been linked to the vacant job with the Toronto Raptors.
The WNBA also on Tuesday canceled the Aces’ first-round pick in the 2025 draft for another reason — a violation of league rules regarding improper player advantages related to Hamby, who was traded Jan. 21 to the Los Angeles Sparks.
The trade allowed the Aces to free up salary cap room to sign former two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker.
“We made the decision to transfer Hamby because we were able to get three guys signed,” Hammon said. “I think it’s very obvious who we signed, why we made the switch, but (Hamby’s pregnancy) was never an issue and it was never the reason she was switched. It just wasn’t. It came down to math and economics. That’s all.” That was it. Nothing personal.
“I’ve had a great relationship with Hamby the whole time, which is probably why she felt that way. It feels like a betrayal. It’s a crappy part of my job, but someone has to be the bearer of bad news.”
Hamby said after the Sparks’ practice on Tuesday she wanted to “go forward and focus on where I am today”. However, she said she “and the union will continue to evaluate our options”.
The union was particularly critical of Hammon and the Aces not being penalized more harshly, saying in a statement: “Where in this decision is this team or any other team in the league learning the lesson that respect in the workplace is the highest standard and.” “A player’s dignity cannot be manipulated?”
The WNBA said it interviewed 33 people and reviewed texts, emails and other documents. Hammon said none of the current Aces players were interviewed, and to her knowledge the only player the league spoke to was former Las Vegas player Liz Cambage.
Hammon also said she didn’t send any negative texts or emails to Hamby.
“I actually didn’t see Dearica say she received angry text messages from us,” Hammon said. “I think that’s totally made up by someone on the outside who doesn’t know what the hell is going on.”
The Aces issued a statement Tuesday expressing their support for Hammon.
“The WNBA’s decisions about Becky Hammon go against what we know and love about her,” the statement said. “Becky is a caring person who builds strong personal relationships with her players.”
Hammon said she particularly appreciates the support of owner Mark Davis, president Nikki Fargas and their players.
“That’s all I need to keep it going,” she said.
Hammon became the first woman to serve as boss in an NBA game when Gregg Popovich was sent off during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers in December 2020. Hammon also coached the Spurs to the 2015 NBA Summer League title.
In August, she will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. She was a six-time WNBA All-Star and the seventh player to surpass 5,000 career points.