Becky Hammon made history on Wednesday by taking over as San Antonio Spurs head coach during a game, and the biggest remaining question is when she’ll make even more history.
For years, Hammon has been the obvious pick to become the NBA’s first female head coach. She started as the league’s first full-time female assistant and has since been promoted to Popovich’s top assistant while coaching the Spurs in summer league and exhibition games.
A battlefield promotion to acting head coach after Popovich was ejected was just another step, and Popovich told reporters on Friday that he thinks she deserves a shot at a full-time job as head coach:
Gregg Popovich's full answer on why he didn't think Becky Hammon coaching was a 'big deal.' "We didn't hire Becky to make history. She earned it." pic.twitter.com/QAb4KIixux
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) January 1, 2021
“She’s somebody who is very skilled and could easily fulfill the head coaching duties in the NBA,” Popovich said. “That goes without saying. There are women in every other endeavor in the world, whether it’s government, science, technology, aviation, it doesn’t matter what it is. Women do the same jobs as well and better than men. That’s a fact.”
Spurs players also made it clear that they respect Hammon, a six-time WNBA All-Star after Wednesday’s game. Veteran guard Patty Mills said she has the ability to step up and coach in the NBA, point guard Dejounte Murray said she “is on the right road” and shooting guard DeMar DeRozan said “She’s one of us.”
The list of former Popovich assistants who got a head coaching gig is long, and includes names like Mike Budenholzer, Mike Brown and Brett Brown. Hammon’s years of working under one of the NBA’s most respected coaches gives her an impressive resume, as do her years of playing in the WNBA.
Hammon has already interviewed for the Indiana Pacers’ head coaching job, and you have to imagine there will be more interviews in the coming offseasons.
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