After Gregg Popovich was ejected Wednesday night, Becky Hammon became the first woman to be an active head coach in an NBA game.
It was a historic moment noticed outside NBA circles.
Inside NBA circles it was noticed as well, including inside the Spurs locker room (quotes via Dave McMenamin of ESPN).
DeMar DeRozan: “Becky played, and any player who knows the history of women’s basketball knows what she meant to the sport. You don’t think twice about it. She’s one of us. When she speaks, we are all ears.”
Dejounte Murray: “You’ve got to tip your hat to her. I pay attention to all those little things. She’s been here since I got here. I’ve been watching her talk to every single player, whether he was a veteran dude or a young dude. Just using her voice and her knowledge of the game.
“I love Becky to death. We are really, really close. She texts me on holidays to ask about my daughter, and I ask about her kids. I appreciate her. 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.”
I loved this line from Rudy Gay today on Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, who he is extremely close with:
“I look forward to the day where none of this is news, just people accomplishing things and everybody having a chance and everybody having a shot at the same thing.”
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) December 31, 2020
What happened was noticed outside the Spurs locker room, as well.
LeBron James: “She’s been putting in the work, and any time you put in the work you get rewarded with opportunities. 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.”
Kyrie Irving on Becky Hammon becoming the first woman to fill in as head coach in a regular season NBA game yesterday:
“There shouldn’t be any roles that are deemed for male or female…But there’s still a fight. I am glad Pop got ejected and put Becky at the driver’s seat.”
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) December 31, 2020
Former Spur Pau Gaol was out in front of this in a 2018 article at the Players’ Tribune, and he may have put it best:
“I’ve been in the NBA for 17 years. I’ve won two championships … I’ve played with some of the best players of this generation … and I’ve played under two of the sharpest minds in the history of sports, in Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. And I’m telling you: Becky Hammon can coach. I’m not saying she can coach pretty well. I’m not saying she can coach enough to get by. I’m not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA’s male coaches. I’m saying: Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball. Period.”
If she can coach, she deserves the chance to prove it at the highest level.