Becky Hammon becomes NBA's first female head coach after Spurs' Gregg Popovich ejected from game
31st December 2020

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"You got 'em," San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon said head coach Gregg Popovich told her when he left the court during the second quarter of a home game against the defending league champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Hammon thus became the first woman to coach an NBA team Wednesday after Popovich was ejected for screaming at an official and entering the court following a non-call.  

"I try not to think of the huge picture and huge aspect of it because it can be overwhelming," Hammon said, according to The Associated Press. "I really have had no time to reflect. I have not had time to look at my phone. So, I don’t know what’s going on outside the AT&T Center."

She said in that historic moment she was just trying to get the players in their right spots.

"Trying to get them motivated. Obviously, it’s a learning situation for all of us, but I would have loved to have walked out there with a win with the guys."

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon breaks from a huddle during a timeout in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in San Antonio, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. Hammon became the first woman to direct an NBA team, taking over the Spurs after coach Gregg Popovich was ejected in a 121-107 loss to the Lakers. (Associated Press)

Los Angeles beat San Antonio 121-107 but Laker LeBron James had a lot to say about Hammon’s milestone.

"Obviously she’s been paying her dues over the last few years and Coach Pop has given her the opportunity," James, who celebrated his 36th birthday Wednesday, said. "It’s a beautiful thing just to hear her barking out calls, barking out sets. She’s very passionate about the game. Congrats to her and congrats for our league."

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel called the moment "Well deserved."

"I’ve talked to her before and she really knows her stuff and obviously she’s here for a reason. She’s equipped, intelligent (and the) guys have great respect for her. She’s going to be a great coach one day."

Spurs player DeMar DeRozan said Hammon is always quick on her feet even in timeouts with Popovitch.

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"She tells us about defensive assignments, offensive sets we should run," he said. "Seeing her in the forefront, it would have definitely been cool to have won for her."

A three-time All-American at Colorado State, Hammon played for the New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars in the WNBA as well as overseas before retiring to join 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 3-pointer with 1:14 remaining in the first quarter.

DeRozan added 23 for the Spurs, who lost their second straight after opening the season with two consecutive wins.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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