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Aces coach explains why in-game ESPN interview ended awkwardly

Updated May 17, 2024 - 6:44 pm

Becky Hammon’s awkward in-game interview with ESPN wasn’t what it looked like, the Aces coach said.

Hammon guided the Aces to a season-opening 89-80 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night in an ESPN2-televised game at Michelob Ultra Arena. Early in the fourth quarter, Hammon put on a headset for a live interview with broadcasters Tiffany Greene and Debbie Antonelli. Some fans thought the line of questioning was interrupted because of Hammon’s annoyance with having to talk while coaching, but the exchange was cut short because of technical difficulties.

“I didn’t hear the question. I heard the first one and then there was just this man super loud in my ear,” Hammon said after practice Thursday. “There was no guy on the call. I couldn’t hear (Greene and Antonelli) at all.”

The first question focused on what Hammon told her players during the huddle. The team entered the period with a six-point lead, and Hammon explained that she talked to them about offensive rebounds and struggles with the Mercury’s zone defense.

The issue arose during the second question: “Offensively, do you think the team is playing with the kind of rhythm you need them to play with in the quarter court?”

Hammon furrowed her brow in silence for about five seconds, pressing the headpiece to her ear. She seemed more focused on the game, in which Mercury guard Diana Taurasi had just drawn a shooting foul.

When it became clear Hammon wasn’t going to respond, Greene interrupted the silence and noted how loud it was in the arena. She was right, as the game was played before a sold-out crowd of 10,419.

“It’s very loud in here,” Green said. “We appreciate the time, coach.”

Hammon said she didn’t ignore the second question because of any frustration with the game or the analysts. She said she was confused by the unidentified man she heard who, she said, seemed to be talking about sports betting.

In-game interviews are mandated by the WNBA, which has a broadcast deal with ESPN.

“We have to do it,” Hammon said. “I’m just trying to do my job.”

Contact Callie Lawson-Freeman at clawsonfreeman@reviewjournal.com. Follow @CallieJLaw on X.

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