Although 2020 is almost over, it still turns out to be sporting milestones. Wednesday night, a woman served as head coach in an NBA game for the first time.
When Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was sent off after arguing with the Los Angeles Lakers in San Antonio in the second quarter, he turned to his assistant Becky Hammon and indicated that she was the team must take over.
“He was officially pointing at me,” Hammon said. “That was it. Said, “You got it.” This is, of course, a big deal. This is an essential moment. ”
“It was business as usual,” she added. ‘They’m used to hearing my voice in practice. In practice, Pop will put us in two teams and each of us will have a team. So they’m used to hearing me out there, watching me draw a play on the board or whatever.
Although not much was made of the milestone during the game, which the Lakers won, 121-107, the reaction poured out thereafter.
“It’s a beautiful thing to just hear her bark, leaves,” said LeBron James of the Lakers. “She is very passionate about the game. So congratulations to her, congratulations to our league. ”
Hammon, 43, was withdrawn from Colorado State but played 16 years in the WNBA, where she was a six-time All Star. After being transferred to the US Olympic team, she represented Russia, where she also played professionally, in the 2008 and 2012 Games.
On her flight home from the 2012 London Games, Hammon’s seatmate was Popovich. She remembered him asking her, ‘If you were an assistant to me and I asked you something, would you tell me the truth?’
She replied, “I do not know why else would you ask if you do not want me to tell the truth.” He replies, “Okay, I do not want a bunch of yes-men.”
In 2013, Hammon tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee and abruptly ended her WNBA season. While in rehabilitation, she served as a coaching intern at the Spurs. And in 2014, Popovich hired her as the first full-time female assistant coach in the league.
At the time, she said of Popovich: ‘Honestly, I do not think he gives two cents that I am a woman. And I do not want to be hired, because I’m a woman. ‘She was three times head coach of the Spurs’ Las Vegas Summer League team and won the title in 2015.
There have been other milestones for women in sports this year.
In November, Sarah Fuller of Vanderbilt became the first woman to play and score in a regular season game during one of the Power 5 conferences of college football when she kicked for the team. Kim Ng became the first woman hired to run a major league baseball industry when she was named general manager of the Miami Marlins. In an exhibition match in July, Alyssa Nakken of the San Francisco Giants became the first woman to coach in the major leagues on the field.
Hammon’s pioneering work in the league has sparked speculation that she will one day be a head coach, and according to her, she has been a candidate for several top positions in the past, most recently the Indiana Pacers.
“The future is bright for her,” Spurs’ Dejounte Murray said after the game. “I hope she just sticks to it and does not give up. One day it may happen, she may not know, but she’s definitely on the right track. ”
Hammon tried to keep the focus on her duties.
“I’m just with the guys right now,” she said. “Try to figure out the best way to help them.”