“You got it,” San Antonio Spurs coach Becky Hammon said head coach Gregg Popovich told her as he left court during the second quarter of a home game against defending league champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Hammon thus became the first woman to coach an NBA team on Wednesday after Popovich was fired for shouting at an official and entering court after a non-call.
“I try not to think about the big picture and the big aspect of it, because it can be overwhelming,” Hammon told The Associated Press. “I really did not have time to reflect. I did not have time to look at my phone. So I do not know what is going on outside the AT&T center.”
She said at that historic moment, she was just trying to get the players in their rightful places.
“To try to get them motivated. It’s obviously a learning situation for all of us, but I would love to go there with a win with the guys.”
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Los Angeles beat San Antonio 121-107, but Laker LeBron James had a lot to say about Hammon’s milestone.
“It’s clear she’s paid her fees over the last few years and Coach Pop has given her the opportunity,” said James, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Wednesday. “It’s a beautiful thing to just hear her bark, leaves procrastinate. She’s very passionate about the game. Congratulations to her and congratulations on our league.”
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel called the moment “well deserved”.
“I’ve talked to her before and she really knows her well and she’s obviously here for a reason. She’s equipped, intelligent (and the) guys have great respect for her. She’s going to be a good coach one day.”
Spurs player DeMar DeRozan said Hammon is always fast on her feet, even in the time-out with Popovitch.
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“She tells us about defensive assignments, offensive sets we have to execute,” he said. “Seeing her in the foreground would have definitely been cool to win for her.”
Hammon was a three-time All-American in the state of Colorado and played for the New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars in the WNBA as well as overseas before joining Popovich’s staff in 2014.
Hammon was the first full-time female assistant coach in league history.
The Lakers took their first double-digit lead at 35-25 on Kyle Kuzma’s three-point leader with 1:14 left in the first quarter.
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DeRozan added 23 for the Spurs, who lost their second consecutive game after starting the season with two consecutive wins.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.