The San Antonio Stars announced today that veteran guard Becky Hammon will retire after 16 season in the WNBA.
WNBA President Laurel J. Richie's quote about Hammon from the press release sums things up pretty well:
"Becky Hammon epitomizes what the WNBA is all about: she has truly shown the world what is possible," said WNBA President, Laurel J Richie. "Having gone undrafted in 1999, Becky was determined to make her dream of becoming a professional athlete come true. Hard work and talent got her noticed and earned her a roster spot, and she never looked back. In addition to all her accomplishments, Becky's feisty leadership and no-look passes have made her a fan favorite. We thank Becky for all her contributions to the growth of this wonderful game and we wish her all the best on her future endeavors."
There should be very little question about Hammon's standing as one of the WNBA's all-time greats, whether you go through and count accolades or statistical accomplishments.
Adding to the compelling narrative painted by Richie above, Hammon was a clear choice for the WNBA's Top 15 of All-Time list and remained within the top 15 of James Bowman's Hall of Fame probability calculator as of last October. Statistically, Hammon could easily make a case as the league's best shooter of all-time: according to Basketball-Reference, Hammon has the best career free throw percentage in league history and the third-best true shooting percentage of any guard (behind Cynthia Cooper and Jennifer Azzi). To maintain that level of scoring efficiency over a 16-year career while making the second-most threes on the second-most attempts in WNBA history makes for a set of shooting accomplishments that might not be matched.
Aside from shooting, what makes Hammon stand out as unique in league history is the combination of scoring and passing ability that put her in the conversation as one of the best point guards in the league at various points in her career - few players have the ability to use their threat as a scorer to set up others for scoring opportunities as efficiently as Hammon could when she was at her best.
Unfortunately, Hammon never won a title in the WNBA, but in no way should a ring count detract from her greatness - Hammon's story, skill set, and accomplishments make her one-of-a-kind and a lock for the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Having already gone through a coaching "internship" of sorts with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich while rehabbing from last season's season-ending injury, there's little question that there will be more great things to come from Hammon once she is done playing.