Few could have predicted that a first half ejection Wednesday night of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich would lead to history in the NBA in a game between the Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers.
The history came from former WNBA star and now Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, who became the first woman to serve as a head coach during a regular-season NBA game.
Since being hired by the Spurs as an assistant back in 2014, she became the first female full-time assistant coach in NBA history, and has been working towards eventually being the first head coach in the league’s history.
Becky Hammon took over head coaching duties for the Spurs after Pop was ejected.
She is the first woman to serve as head coach in an NBA game. pic.twitter.com/Cp8r0Sj0w3
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) December 31, 2020
Hammon has served the Spurs in a number of different ways in an effort to move up the ranks and eventually become a head coach. She led the organization’s Summer League Team, and was a part of the Spurs’ rotation of head coaches last year in scrimmages before the NBA restarted in the Orlando bubble.
The Spurs dropped the decision in Hammon’s history-making game, losing to the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers 121-107, but it didn’t overshadow the moment for the 43-year-old South Dakota native.
“Obviously, it’s a big deal,” Hammon said after the game.
“It’s a substantial moment. I’ve been a part of this organization. I got traded here in 2007, so I’ve been in San Antonio and part of the Spurs and sports organization with the Stars and everything for 13 years.
“So I have a lot of time invested, and they have a lot of time invested in me, in building me and getting me better.”
LeBron James, who turned 36 on Wednesday, celebrated his birthday with 26 points in the win for the Lakers, and spoke about the history-making event after the victory.
“Obviously, she’s been paying her dues over the last few years, and Coach Pop has given her the opportunity,” James 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.”