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Full circle moment: Weatherspoon-Hammond reunion bigger than a single game

3 weeks agoKarli Bell

There was a meeting of familiar faces at Wintrust Arena on June 27. Yes, there’s the meeting of former South Carolina Gamecocks in A’ja Wilson and Kamilla Cardoso.

But it was a different set of players that faced off against each other for the first time in their coaching careers. Former New York Liberty teammates Teresa Weatherspoon and Becky Hammon now found each other on opposite sidelines coaching their respective teams in the Chicago Sky and the Las Vegas Aces.

Before the game even took place, the head coaches took their pregame presser together in the Champions Lounge, greeting each other with a huge embrace and hug before taking questions from the press.

“Told y’all that was my little sister,” Weatherspoon said about Hammon with the biggest grin on her face.

“I hadn’t seen her yet. She used to come to talk to me in my locker room when I’d come to New Orleans,” Hammon said. “I’d like to see her before I have to see her pumping her fists in my face.”

As the press conference continued on, Weatherspoon and Hammon looked at each other with love and friendship with every question asked and answered, the history between both of them running through their minds, smiles on their faces the entire time. Stories were shared about Spoon and ‘Hamhock’s’ first seasons together in the early seasons of the WNBA with laughs and giggles in between each word. 

“Kind of a full circle moment for us. She was my first vet,” Hammon said. “Now to be sitting across from her, I know we’ve always been cheering from afar. I’m super happy for her, and I cheer for her every time except for tonight. She knows I’m going to try and take her head off and she’s going to try and take mine. That’s how it rolls and as it should be.”

Both coaches walked out of the Champions Lounge, laughing and embracing each other with pure love as former teammates. As pregame warmups continued, Sky assistant coach and Hammon’s former roommate Crystal Robinson started to take in the reality of the history that was playing out before their eyes.

“We started out with hard knocks and built, struggled and kept going,” Robinson said. “I think every player likes seeing the growth in this league and the parody and talent coming into this league. It’s amazing. Just knowing that everything that you stuck in the ground and built so painstakingly is going to be around.

“Now [the players] are open. They can be who they want. We were in a box. We just came to work and did our job. Wasn’t much about your personal life. Now, I feel like [the fans have] embraced everything that comes along with the WNBA. It’s a great thing.”

As tip-off inched closer and closer, the reality of lining up on opposite sidelines started to settle in for the former teammates.

“It’s doing it to me right now just looking at her. I look back at her and I see these bangs hanging down. Just a little baby girl,” Weatherspoon said as her eyes started to water with happiness. “I’m so proud of her. This can become incredibly emotional for us…that’s enough said.”

The game began in front of a sellout crowd at Wintrust Arena, and the energy that Weatherspoon, Robinson and Hammon played with showed up on the hardwood yet again. 

Marina Mabrey hit a three early in the first quarter, and the Weatherspoon fist pump came out as Hammon predicted. 

“She was the ultimate teammate so when she was coming back, I know what she gives. She’s a contagious person. Her energy, her zest for life, it’s contagious,” Hammon said about Weatherspoon.

A’ja Wilson started to get hot inside, scoring 23 of her 31 total points in the first half. Hammon began to clap with force and high five her players as they came to the sideline in a timeout.

The Sky came out on a 7-0 run in the third quarter to tie the game at 46 a piece, leading to an immediate Hammon timeout.

“We wanted to see if this one owned a towel to throw in because we don’t own towels to throw in. Never did she give in. Never did she stay down. Every time she hit the floor, she got back up,” Weatherspoon said about Hammon.

The final buzzer sounded with Hammon and her Las Vegas Aces coming out on top, 95-83, over the Sky. Weatherspoon and Hammon walked towards each other at midcourt in front of the scorer’s table, coming in for a hug just like they did in pregame. Regardless of the outcome, Spoon had one thing to say about ‘Hamhock.’

“You guys can write this. That I love her.”

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