While 2020 was far from normal with numerous trials and tribulations, it ended on a high note for one Becky Hammon, who because the first woman to ever serve as head coach in an NBA game. It came out of the blue for Hammon, after Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was ejected for arguing a call in the second quarter of the December 39 game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Becky Hammon noted that Gregg Popovich just pointed at her and said, “You’ve got them.” Clearly it was a big deal for Hammon, who has been part of the Spurs coaching staff since 2014. One of six women holding assistant coaching positions in the NBA, Hammon was head coach of the Spurs’ summer league team and coached part of a preseason game in October 2017.
Becky Hammon downplayed her head coaching debut, saying it was just business as usual. Lakers superstar LeBron James too notice saying it was a “beautiful thing to her barking out calls. Congrats to her, congrats to our league”. Not only noticed by James, Hammon has been moving up the ranks among Spurs’ coaches, moving to the front of the bench starting in 2018-2019. Two other times that Popovich was ejected from games last season, he turned to Tim Duncan to take over.
While Popovich wasn’t there to make history last year, it did now as Duncan left a one-year coaching career to spend time with his family. The 43-year-old Hammon was a standout basketball player in the WNBA for 16 years, earning All-Star honors six times. The great thing about Popovich, in Hammon’s eyes, is that he didn’t care in the least that she’s a woman. She was hired due to her credentials, which is what it should be. But still, women are just now breaking the ice in terms of getting a shot in men’s sports.
After all, Kim Ng just became the first woman hired to run a Major League Baseball time when the Marlins hired her. Alyssa Nakken became the first women to coach in the major leagues in an exhibition game with the Giants in July. There is much chatter that someday Becky Hammon could be a head coach in the NBA and has been a top candidate in the past. The players believe the future is bright for her and the hope is that someday people don’t make things of this nature a big news story.
It’s simply people, regardless of gender, put into the best position to do the job they are most qualified to do.