Hey everyone this is Sam. Let’s talk about Becky Hammon and Wednesday night. Think of her and what comes to mind? If it is not history making then you are probably wrong. Well, I guess you could think unbelievable or hall of fame or maybe great coach. Maybe. I bet after she is completely finished with her coaching career that you think history making.
First Woman To Act As NBA Head Coach
Becky Hammon made history Wednesday night by becoming the first woman to act as a NBA head coach during a regular-season game. Everyone knew this was going to happen with her. It was just a matter of when and what team. She has received interest from various colleges and even some NBA teams. However, she has remained on the Spurs staff to wait for the right opportunity. I believe she loves working for Pop and will wait for him to retire. San Antonio is too great of an organization to pass up.
The San Antonio Spurs’ Head Coach Gregg Popovich’s ejection during the second quarter at the 3:56 mark resulted in a head coaching opportunity for Assistant Coach Becky Hammon. The Spurs were playing against the Los Angeles Lakers and his team trailed the Lakers 52-41. As NBA fans know, Pop gets upset by officiating quite often. A lack of a foul call following a DeMar DeRozan drive to the basket got him hot. The referee gave him the technicals. So Pop being tossed meant Hammon took over as the team’s acting head coach, which made NBA history.
How It Happened and Coach Hammon’s Thoughts
The Spurs’ fans and even most basketball fans weren’t a bit surprised when Coach Becky Hammon took over. He officially pointed at me. “That was it,” Hammon said. “Said, ‘You got ’em,’ and that was it. Very Pop-like.” It is so typical of the three-time coach of the year as he handed her the reins of the team while heading to the locker room.
“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. 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.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was among those to congratulate Hammon on social media, tweeting Thursday: “Congrats, Becky Hammon. You may be the first, but I know you certainly won’t be the last.”
Coach Hammon said she was flanked by Spurs assistant coaches Will Hardy and Mitch Johnson to finish out the game. “Everybody just gets on board, and it was a great team effort. They’re in my ear giving me suggestions and helping with substitutions and what not,” Hammon said. “So when Pop gets tossed. We all come together and become kind of another team.”
Last Time Pop Got Ejected
When Coach Gregg Popovich was ejected from a game against the Portland Trail Blazers in November 2019, Becky Hammon and the rest of the Spurs’ staff filled in during his absence. Afterward, however, Popovich said that assistant Tim Duncan ultimately assumed the head-coaching responsibilities to finish out the game. Duncan stepped down from a full-time coaching role with the Spurs during this offseason.
How Did The Spurs Do and What Did Players Think?
With Becky Hammon roaming the side-line, the Spurs were able to cut the defending champs’ lead to five in the second quarter. They came as close as eight on multiple occasions in the second half. “The guys responded great. I thought we gave ourselves some chances. We battled back multiple times,” Hammon said. “I think it was business as usual. They’re used to hearing my voice in practice.”
The Spurs’ players heaped praise on their coach after the game. “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.”
“You’ve got to tip your hat to her. I pay attention to all those little things.” Dejounte Murray said, “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.
Dejounte Murray continued, “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.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said he believes a permanent head-coaching job will be awaiting Becky Hammon in the NBA in the future. “I’ve talked to her a bunch in coaches conferences and what not, and she really knows her stuff,” Vogel said. “Obviously, she’s here for a reason. She’s equipped. She’s intelligent. The guys have a great respect for her. And I think she’s going to be a head coach in this league someday.”
Becky Hammon was in her fifth season in the WNBA when LeBron James entered the NBA as a rookie in 2003. “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.
“It’s a beautiful thing just to hear her barking out calls, barking out sets, and she’s very passionate about the game, so congrats to her and congrats to the league.”
Why Her? What’s She Done?
The South Dakota 43-year-old native Becky Hammon has represented them on every level of basketball with nothing but greatness from high school to college to the WNBA. Now as a assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. During her playing career, she was a 6-time WNBA All Star with the New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars, won Bronze and Gold for Team USA and played 13 years professionally before becoming a coach.
She was named as a returning nominee to enter the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the Class of 2021. Becky Hammon joins an illustrious group of returning 2021 nominees from Chris Bosh, Richard Hamilton, Swin Cash as well as Ben Wallace. Additionally in 2021, Paul Pierce, Doug Collins, Michael Cooper, Lauren Jackson, Howard Garfinkel, Lou Henson, Val Ackerman and Yolanda Griffith are all first time nominees.
This year’s class will be inducted in September 2021 and the 2020 class will be inducted in May 2021 after their enshrinement was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That class includes Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant and will be extra meaningful considering the passing of Bryant in January of 2020.
But She Has Never Played In The NBA…
So what? But I guess this is a big deal to some NBA fans. Why? Just nine of the NBA’s 30 current coaches played in the league. For every Steve Nash (two-time MVP who coaches the Brooklyn Nets), there are a bunch who built careers via the video department, advance scouting or individual workout sessions. Of course, Coach Gregg Popovich or Lakers’ Coach Frank Vogel, who was on the other end of the court Wednesday night, are two that have never played in the NBA.
Coach Vogel played some Division III ball before becoming the student manager at the University of Kentucky. Last year, he led the Lakers to the NBA title. Coach Popovich, meanwhile, has won five of them. Of course, Becky Hammon didn’t play in the NBA (she did play 16 seasons in the WNBA though).
Why Did Coach Popovich Hire Her?
Coach Gregg Popovich was asked about Becky Hammon’s credentials before Wednesday’s game. “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.”
While acknowledging the achievement in pushing gender norms as a pioneering woman in men’s professional sports, Coach Hammon admitted something was missing from the night. “I would have loved to have walked out of there with the win with the guys,” Hammon said.
As always, Sports Obsessive wants to hear your comments below. Let me know what you think of her coaching abilities.