Hammon had 3:56 left in the second quarter in the Spurs game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers won the game 121-107.
“This is clearly a big deal. This is a significant moment,” Hammon told reporters. “I was part of this organization. I traded here in 2007 (when I was in the WNBA), so I was in San Antonio for 13 years and part of the Spurs and sports organization with the Stars and everything. So I have a lot invested time, and they invested a lot of time in me to build me up and get better.
“Honestly, at the moment I’m just trying to win the game. I’m saying this a lot, but I’m not trying to think about the big picture and the big aspect of it, because it can be overwhelming. It’s my job to put in there needs to be a focus on those guys and make sure I help them do the things that will help us win.
“I really did not have time to reflect. I did not look at my phone, so I have no idea what’s going on outside AT&T Center tonight.”
Hammon said she did not enter the arena and thought she would be placed in the role of head coach, “but that’s how things go and you roll with it,” she said. ‘I would like another result. I would generally like to have a victory tonight. ‘
Popovich will be credited as the head coach in official statistics, but it was a historic moment. About how Hammon found out she was going to take over for Popovich? “He officially pointed at me,” she said. “That was it. He said, ‘You have them.'”
Hammon, a six-time WNBA All-Star in her 16-year career, was the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history when he was appointed by the Spurs in 2014. She previously served as Spurs’ head coach during the summer. League, held during the off-season.
Hammon was again nominated for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, for the class of 2021. Before Wednesday’s game, Popovich was asked about it, as well as about his thoughts on Hammon’s playing days and coaching career.
“Of course I think a lot of her abilities to employ her. It all started when I saw her play,” Popovich said.
“She was a leader, everyone in the team responded to her, she was very confident, very competitive and she led the whole show. And when I got to know her and she was in our coaching meetings before she was appointed, while she was a season hurt, we found out about her skill for the game, her innate understanding of what wins, what loses, what needs to be there to make a program.
“So she has all the tools to be a coach in our league.”
Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray said after the game: “The future is bright for her. I hope she just sticks to it and does not give up. One day it may happen, it may not happen, who knows, but she is definitely to I think everyone here appreciates her … She’s an example to every woman out there. ‘