Sports

Becky Hammon makes NBA history with Spurs after Gregg Popovich’s ejection

Becky Hammon tried to freeze out the “huge picture” and focus on the court in front of her as she became the first woman in NBA regular-season history to act as head coach.

Former WNBA star Hammon filled in after San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected in the opening half of the clash with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers came through as 121-107 winners, with Hammon keeping all her energy on the task in hand rather than the history-making aspect of the evening.

She said afterwards: “In the moment I was just trying to win the game.

“I try not to think about the huge picture and the huge aspect of it because it can get overwhelming. It’s my job to go in there and be focused for those guys and make sure I’m helping them do the things that will help us win.

“I really have not had time to reflect. I haven’t looked at my phone.”

Spurs guard Dejounte Murray saluted the impact 43-year-old Hammon has had on the team, and backed her to take the next step forward by ultimately becoming a full-time head coach.

She joined the Spurs coaching staff in 2014, and Murray said: “You’ve got to tilt your head off to her.

“She’s been here since I got here [in 2016]. I remember watching her talk to every single player, whether a veteran dude or a young dude, just using her voice and her knowledge of the game.

“I love Becky to death. She texts me on holiday, asks about my daughter, I ask about her kids. I appreciate her. The future’s bright for her.”

Murray would love to see Hammon lead an NBA team on a full-time basis and considers it a realistic target.

“I hope she sticks to it and doesn’t give up,” he said. “One day it might happen, it may not happen, who knows? But she’s definitely on the right road and I think everyone here appreciates her.

“She’s setting an example for every woman out there.

“It’s really up to her. I think she has the knowledge. I think she knows the game really well.

“If she wants it, I believe she could do it. She’s passionate about the game and passionate about winning. She knows everything about it.

“If she does or if she doesn’t, I’m going to love her the same and appreciate her the same.”

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