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Spurs’ Becky Hammon becomes first woman to coach NBA team during game

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, acting as head coach, calls a play during a timeout against the Lakers.
San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, acting as head coach, calls a play during a timeout against the Lakers on Wednesday.
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Becky Hammon became the first women to direct a team in NBA history, taking over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night against the Lakers following Gregg Popovich’s ejection in the first half.

Popovich was ejected by official Tony Brown with 3:56 remaining in the second quarter. Popovich screamed at Brown and entered the court following a non-call on DeMar DeRozan’s attempted layup and a subsequent attempted rebound by Drew Eubanks. Popovich was applauded as he exited the court by several of the team’s family members who were in attendance at the AT&T Center.

Hammon took over the team’s huddles during timeouts and walked the sideline following Popovich’s ejection. Hammon was the first full-time female assistant coach in league history. The Lakers went on to win 121-107.

“I try not to think of the huge picture and huge aspect of it because it can be overwhelming,” Hammon said after the game. “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.”

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Tim Duncan took over last season when Popovich was ejected against Portland on Nov. 16, 2019. The Hall of Famer opted not to return as assistant this season.

A three-time All-American at Colorado State, Hammon played for the New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars in the WNBA as well as overseas before retiring to join Popovich’s staff in 2014.

Popovich was ejected by official Tony Brown with 3:56 remaining in the second quarter. As he exited the court, Popovich pointed a finger at Hammon and had a succinct message.

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“You got ‘em,” Hammon said. “See? He doesn’t treat us any differently than he does you guys.”


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