The San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich continued giving assistant coach Becky Hammon more responsibility with the team, letting her coach the squad during a preseason game on Sunday.
Hammon, a former WNBA player and NBA’s first full-time female assistant, has been with the Spurs since 2014. In the past, the Spurs have had her coach their Summer League team in Las Vegas.
On Sunday, however, she got a shot with the full team as Gregg Popovich reportedly retreated to the team box with the Spurs GM and another assistant.
According to ESPN, Hammon coached the first half of the game, a 122-100 preseason win over the Denver Nuggets, while assistant coach Will Hardy coached the second half. Popovich reportedly let assistant coach Ime Udoka hold the clipboard as he watched from the stands during a preseason game on Friday.
After the game, Hammon said it was “an amazing opportunity” and said it is part of a culture Popovich has instilled.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for me. But we’re a teaching program, and that comes directly from [Popovich],” Hammon said. “So for him to give us this opportunity and the guys here a different voice, that’s what his [coaching] tree is kind of all about. It’s mentoring and bringing people along.”
In a tone similar to Popovich, Hammon even joked about not talking to the media afterward.
Spurs players over the years have all raved about Hammon’s skills as a coach, and that did not change on Sunday. Guard Manu Ginobili said afterward: “I know it’s different because she’s the first (full-time) female assistant coach (in NBA history), but she’s a coach. And she is doing a great job. She is smart. She understands the game. She’s another coach we respect.”
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