LeBron James: Becky Hammon coaching Spurs ‘a beautiful thing’
Becky Hammon made NBA history Wednesday night and LeBron James, who had a front-row seat, could not be happier.
Hammon, a longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant, stepped up into the head-coaching role when Gregg Popovich was ejected by official Tony Brown with 3:56 remaining in the second quarter during the team’s 121-107 loss to James’ Los Angeles Lakers.
The NBA world — not to mention the WNBA, where Hammon once played — celebrated the news of Hammon becoming the first woman to coach an NBA team.
pic.twitter.com/2wK5jwflKo— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 31, 2020
We you @BeckyHammon pic.twitter.com/3CiCVWZyI7— WNBA (@WNBA) December 31, 2020
After a game in which he put up 26 points, eight assists and five rebounds in the Lakers’ victory — incidentally on his 36th birthday — James praised Hammon for being such a trailblazer.
“Obviously, she’s been paying her dues over the last few years and Coach Pop has given her the opportunity,” James said, per NJ.com. “It’s a beautiful thing just to hear her barking out calls, barking out sets. She’s very passionate about the game. Congrats to her and congrats for our league.”
James has long been an advocate for women taking on more prominent roles in the NBA, specifically in its head-coaching ranks, so his supportive comments about Hammon’s historic accomplishment come as little surprise.
Hammon, meanwhile, was still soaking it all in following the monumental achievement.
"It's a big deal. It's a substantial moment." – @BeckyHammon pic.twitter.com/e8UM1Jl0jk— WNBA (@WNBA) December 31, 2020
“Obviously it’s a big deal. It’s a substantial moment,” Hammon said to reporters, per CNN. “I’ve been a part of this organization. I got traded here in 2007 (when in the WNBA), so I’ve been in San Antonio and part of the Spurs and sports organization with the Stars and everything for 13 years. 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.
“Honestly, in the moment, I was just trying to win the game. I say this a lot, but 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 to be focused for those guys and make sure that 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, so I have no idea what’s going on outside of AT&T Center tonight.”
The widespread belief in NBA circles is that Hammon will one day get her shot at being a full-fledged head coach in the league. The glass ceiling-shattering moment on Wednesday night brings her one step closer to realizing it.