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All 30. December 2020 was a historic day, not because LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to score more than 10 points in 1,000 consecutive games, but because of what happened to another team, the San Antonio Spurs. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was sent in the second quarter, handing over the reins to assistant coach Becky Hammon with a single that you got.
As a six-time WNBA All-Star, Hammon spent eight seasons with the sister team of the Spurs, the San Antonio Stars (both owned by the same company), leading to the team’s only appearance in the WNBA final. This is not the first time that Hammon is making history with the Spurs organization. In 2014, she became the first woman in the history of the competition to be hired as a full-time NBA coach.
The league responded to the historic night by thanking Hammon, who seemed more disappointed by the loss of 107-121 from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Spurs than by the historical significance in post-match interviews. The former Laker and Spur Pau Gasol was happy to replace his father:
Congratulations @BeckyHammon! https://t.co/P9ebznsPEu
– Pau Gazelle (@paugasol) 31 December 2020
After the game, the birthday boy had nothing but praise for his 6-year-old coach.
It’s just great to hear her bark at the calls and the pads, told James ESPN, She is very passionate about the game. Congratulations, and congratulations on our competition.
Former LeBron teammate Kyrie Irving told ESPN’s Malika Andrews that he congratulated Gregg Popovich on leaving Hammond at the helm:
Kyrie Irving on Becky Hammon will be the first woman to lead the team on the last night of the NBA regular season:
No roles are to be considered male or female…. But there’s always a struggle. I’m glad Dad got kicked out and put Becky in the driver’s seat.
– Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) 31 December 2020
Spurs star Rudy Gay did the same double-double as Kyrie and hopes that what happened last night will become the norm in the NBA.
Let’s be clear: Rudy wants it to happen so often that people no longer see it as something unusual.
According to him, the best tribute to Hammond’s performance last night is that none of the players realized that the story was written here. https://t.co/Yx5MowKSzR
– Mike Finger (@mikefinger) December 31, 2020
Spurs member DeMar DeRozan, who has spent the last two seasons in San Antonio, expressed confidence and respect for Hammon in his coaching skills and WNBA resume.
Any player or anyone who knows the history of women’s basketball and what it has meant to the sport, don’t think about having them around, DeRozan said. It’s appropriate. Honestly, I feel like one of us. That’s very good. Every time she talks, we listen. We can all hear it. Since I’ve been here, it’s been great to have him.
Hammon’s precedent seems to be developing rapidly, as there are now 10 NBA coaches who are women. Looks like it’s only a matter of time before we see a female NBA head coach.
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