With 3:56 left in the second quarter of Wednesday night’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich was ejected. As he was walking out, he instructed Spurs’s assistant coach Becky Hammon to take over.
In the process, she became the first woman in NBA history to lead an NBA team during a regular-season game.
After the game, Hammon said that she found out that she was going to be coaching the team, when Coach Pop pointed at her.
“I found out when he official pointed at me. That was it. He said you got em, said Hammon.
She continued: “I try not to think of the huge picture and huge aspect of it because it can be overwhelming,” Hammon said. “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.”
Lakers future Hall of Famer, LeBron James talked about Hammon paying her dues.
“Obviously she’s been paying her dues over the last few years and Coach Pop has given her the opportunity. … 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.”
Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego shared his thoughts on his former colleague making history.
“Becky [Hammon] is a fantastic coach, and she has a bright future. I loved coaching with her and being part of a staff that was united, ” said coach Borrego.
“And I am proud of her; she is breaking barriers. She is someone my daughter looks up to, and I couldn’t be more proud of her if she took over tonight or not.”
Just three years ago, Borrego made history of his own when became the first Hispanic full-time head coach.
Before Friday’s rematch against the Lakers, Popovich told the media that Hammon is qualified to be a head coach.
“I understand the attention it got, but in all honesty, I assumed that most people already knew that she was qualified to be a head coach in the NBA,” said Popovich, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
I asked Popovich two years ago, if he saw Hammon replacing him in San Antonio once he decided to retire?
“Well, somebody is going to replace me, I really don’t know who that is going to be,” Popovich told me.
Before the Dallas Mavericks took on the Miami Heat on Friday, Rick Carlisle was asked by Fox Sports Southwest’s Mark Followill about Hammon making history?
“It’s a wonderful, historic moment. My hat is off to Pop for facilitating that opportunity. I messaged her yesterday congratulating on it and let her know, that I have a 16 year old daughter that doesn’t have much interest in basketball or coaching, but it is a significant moment for her and so many other young girls,” said Carlisle.