Becky Hammon made history on Wednesday and became the first woman to head coach during an NBA game in the NBA Series.
The San Antonio assistant coach filled in for head coach Gregg Popovich after he was sent off in the first half of the Spurs’ 121-107 defeat against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.
“Obviously it’s a big deal, it’s a significant moment,” Hammon said after the game. “I was part of this organization. I traded here in 2007, 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 of time invested, and they invested a lot of time in me to build me up and get better. ‘
Popovich suffered a technical foul and was left with 3:56 left in the second quarter for arguing with the referee over a non-call with his team that left the Lakers 52-41 behind.
Hammon is in her seventh season on the Spurs’ coaching staff and has been an All-Star in the WNBA six times with the New York Liberty and San Antonio Silver Stars.
When Popovich was sent off in a game against the Portland Trail Blazers last November, Hammon and the rest of the Spurs staff filled in during his absence. After the game, however, Popovich said that assistant Tim Duncan would finally take on the head coaching responsibilities to complete the game.
Duncan retired from the full-time coaching role at the Spurs during the off-season.
Hammon, 43, has been named a returning nominee to enter the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the 2021 class. Popovich was asked about Hammon’s credentials before the game on Wednesday.
“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, she was in our coaching meetings before she was appointed, while she was was hurt after the season, 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.She has all the necessary tools to make a heel of a program to be. coach in our league. ‘