Becky Hammon has spent the past several seasons working towards becoming an NBA head coach, and on Wednesday, she achieved that goal… if only for a brief period. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was ejected during the second quarter of their game against the Los Angeles Lakers, and Hammon took over as the team’s acting head coach. That makes her the first woman to serve as a head coach during a regular-season NBA game.
Hammon, a WNBA legend, has been an assistant with the Spurs since 2014. She has risen through the ranks since then to serve as a head coach for the Spurs in a number of different capacities prior to Wednesday’s game against the Lakers. She has led the organization’s Summer League Team, and as the Spurs rotated head coaches during the scrimmages leading up to the NBA’s restart in Orlando last season, she coached the team in an exhibition matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. But when Popovich had to be away from the team last season for personal reasons, it was team legend and then-assistant coach Tim Duncan that stepped into Popovich’s chair as head coach.
Duncan stepped down after last season, though, clearing the way for Hammon to earn that distinction now. While the distinction will last only for Wednesday’s game, she will almost certainly get a permanent chance down the line. Many believe that Hammon is the heir apparent in San Antonio and will take over the Spurs when Popovich retires. If not, she has interviewed for head-coaching jobs with the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers. Eventually, she is probably going to be a full-time NBA head coach.
But Wednesday’s matchup with the Lakers was her first chance to do so in a game that counted, and while beating the defending champions was hardly a realistic goal, she has acquitted herself well in the role she may one day occupy permanently.
This Post was originally published on cbssports.com