Spurs' Hammon becomes first woman to act as head coach in NBA history

By Sacha Pisani 31 December 2020 15
Spurs' Hammon becomes first woman to act as head coach in NBA history

San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon became the first woman in NBA regular-season history to act as head coach.

Hammon made history after Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected in the first half of San Antonio's 121-107 loss to defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

Popovich received a technical foul and was tossed out of the game with just under four minutes remaining in the second quarter as Hammon filled in midweek in a significant moment.

Hammon – the first full-time, salaried female coach in NBA history – was promoted to the front of the bench on Popovich's coaching staff in 2018.

The 43-year-old has been with the Spurs as an assistant since 2014. She was head coach of San Antonio's Las Vegas Summer League teams in 2015 and 2016, leading the 2015 squad to the championship.

"Obviously it's a big deal, a substantial moment," Hammon said post-game. "I've been a part of this organisation.

"I got traded here in 2007, so I've been in San Antonio and part of the Spurs and sports organisation 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."

Popovich was asked about Hammon pre-game after the six-time WNBA All-Star was nominated for the 2021 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

"Obviously, I think very much of her abilities having hired her. That all began when I saw her play," Popovich said. "She was a leader, everybody on the team reacted 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 coaches meetings before she was hired, while she was hurt after the season, we found out about her knack for the game, her innate understanding of what wins, what loses, what has to be there to make a program. So she's got all of the tools necessary to be a heck of a coach in our league."

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Sacha Pisani