By GMA TEAM, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — History was made in the NBA on Wednesday night when Becky Hammon stepped in as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, becoming the first woman to act as head coach during an NBA regular-season game.
Hammon, in her sixth season as an assistant coach with the Spurs, took over after Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected in the first half of the Spurs’ loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Obviously, it’s a big deal,” Hammon said after the game, according to ESPN. “It’s a substantial moment.”
“I’ve been a part of this organization, I got traded here in 2007, so I’ve been in San Antonio and part of the Spurs and sports organization with the Stars and everything for 13 years,” she said. “So I have a lot of time invested, and they have a lot of time invested in me, in building me and getting me better.”
Hammon is a former WNBA star who retired in 2014 following a 16-year playing career, including eight seasons for the San Antonio Stars, according to her bio on the Spurs’ website.
She has been named one of the WNBA’s Top 15 players of all time and was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2018, according to her bio.
Even though she made history, Hammon said it was “business as usual” for the team, adding the Spurs players are “used to hearing my voice in practice.”
“Becky played, and any player who knows the history of women’s basketball knows what she meant to the sport,” said Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, according to ESPN. “You don’t think twice about it. She’s one of us. When she speaks, we are all ears.”
Added Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, “The future is bright for her. I hope she sticks to it and doesn’t give up. One day it may happen, or it may not happen. Who knows? But she is definitely on the right road, and I think everyone here appreciates her. She is setting an example for every woman out there.”
Hammon also received praise from Lakers star LeBron James.
“She’s been putting in the work, and any time you put in the work you get rewarded with opportunities,” James said, according to ESPN. “Tonight was a case where she got to step in and show her work, show her talents and her love for the game, and obviously, what she did as a player, first of all, we all know that. So her mind was able to transfer to our league, and she’s been great ever since she got in.”
“It’s a beautiful thing just to hear her barking out calls, barking out sets, and she’s very passionate about the game, so congrats to her and congrats to the league,” he said.
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