On Wednesday night, head assistant coach Becky Hammon made NBA history. Becky Hammon became the first woman to act as head coach in an NBA game. This marks a special moment in the NBA that shows progress. During the second quarter of the San Antonio Spurs game against the Los Angles Lakers, head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected. Popovich was hit with two back to back technical fouls for going against the refs. The Spurs would end up losing against the Lakers, 121-107.
As Becky Hammon assumed the role of acting coach, she said it was “business as usual.”
“It was business as usual. They’re used to hearing my voice in practice,” Hammon told reporters after the game. “The guys are great. The guys are a non-issue, their attitudes and approach is always great with me.
“I did not walk into the arena thinking I would be coaching tonight, but that’s the way things go and you roll with it.”
Becky Hammon expressed how much this opportunity meant to her after the game.
“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.”
Many around the league had Hammon picked as the first woman who would become a head coach down the line. During the last offseason, Becky Hammon was one of the few interviewed for the head coaching position for the Indiana Pacers. The former WNBA all-star had her head in the game the whole time. After the game, Spurs players congratulated Hammon on her first coaching game.
According to ESPN, DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills, and Dejounte Murray all had great things to say about Becky Hammon’s first outing.
“Becky played, and any player who knows the history of women’s basketball knows what she meant to the sport,” Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan said. “You don’t think twice about it. She’s one of us. When she speaks, we are all ears.”
Dejounte Murray talked about the relationship with Becky Hammon. “You’ve got to tip your hat to her. I pay attention to all those little things. She’s been here since I got here. I’ve been watching her talk to every single player, whether he was a veteran dude or a young dude. Just using her voice and her knowledge of the game.
“I love Becky to death. We are really, really close. She texts me on holidays to ask about my daughter, and I ask about her kids. I appreciate her. The future is bright for her. I hope she sticks to it and doesn’t give up. One day it may happen, or it may not happen. Who knows? But she is definitely on the right road, and I think everyone here appreciates her. She is setting an example for every woman out there.”
LeBron James, playing for the opposing side in that game, spoke highly about Hammon.
“She’s been putting in the work, and any time you put in the work you get rewarded with opportunities,” James said. “Tonight was a case where she got to step in and show her work, show her talents and her love for the game, and obviously, what she did as a player, first of all, we all know that. So her mind was able to transfer to our league, and she’s been great ever since she got in.”
Per NBA rules, the loss won’t count against Becky Hammon. It seems like Hammon has the respect of the whole league, players and coaches alike. Many see a full-time coaching job in her future. Wednesday’s game was just a taste but a major step forward to the former WNBA star taking charge of her own team.