December 30th, 2020 was a historic day, not because LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to have 10+ points in 1,000 straight games but because of what happened to the other team, the San Antonio Spurs. In the second quarter, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was ejected and handed over the reins to assistant coach Becky Hammon with a simple “You got ‘em”.
A 6-time WNBA All-Star, Hammon spent 8 seasons with the Spurs’ “sister team” the San Antonio Stars (both teams are owned by the same company), leading them to the team’s only WNBA Finals appearance. This was not the first time Hammon made history with the Spurs organization, in 2014 she was the first woman to be hired to a full-time NBA coaching position in league history.
The league reacted to the historic night with an appreciation for Hammon, who in postgame interviews seemed more disappointed about the Spurs 107-121 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers than the historical significance. Former Laker and Spur Pau Gasol was excited to see her take over for Pop:
After the game, the birthday boy, LeBron had nothing but praise for the 6-year coach.
"It's a beautiful thing just to hear her barking out calls, barking out sets,” James told ESPN “She's very passionate about the game. Congrats to her and congrats for our league."
LeBron’s former teammate Kyrie Irving told ESPN’s Malika Andrews that he praises Gregg Popovich for leaving Hammon at the helm:
Spurs star Rudy Gay had a similar take to Kyrie, hoping that what happened last night becomes an NBA norm.
Fellow Spur DeMar DeRozan, who has spent his last two seasons in San Antonio, expressed his confidence and respect for Hammon in her coaching ability and her WNBA resume.
“Any player or anybody who knows the history of women’s basketball, what she meant to the sport, having her around, you don’t think twice about it,” DeRozan said. “She fits right in. It feels like one of us, honestly. It’s great to have that. Whenever she speaks, we listen. We’re all ears. Since I’ve been here, it’s been great just having her.”
It seems like Hammon’s precedent is quickly followed, currently, there are 10 coaches in the NBA who are women. It seems like it will be only a matter of time before we see an NBA head coach who’s a woman.