LeBron James Talks Becky Hammon Making NBA History as 1st Female Acting HC

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorDecember 31, 2020

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon calls a play during a timeout in the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, after coach Gregg Popovich was ejected, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon became the NBA's first female acting head coach in league history on Wednesday after head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected upon being assessed two technical fouls in a 121-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

After the game, Lakers guard/forward LeBron James was asked about Hammon making history, and he provided the following response.

"Well, she's been putting in the work," James said.

"Any time you put in the work, then you're rewarded with opportunities. And obviously she's been paying her dues over the last few years, and Coach Pop has given her an opportunity to first of all be the coach of the summer league team. She got going with that, and then being the intermediate head coach if anything ever happened to Pop.

"Tonight was the case where she got to step in and show her worth, and show her talent, show her love for the game. Obviously what she did as a player, first of all we all know that and so in her mind, was able to transfer it over 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. She's very passionate about the game. Congrats to her and congrats for our league.”

Hammon, who played professionally from 1999-2012, has been an assistant with the Spurs since 2014. The six-time WNBA All-Star was named one of the league's top 15 players of all time in 2011.

Hammon has also led the Spurs' summer league team and guided San Antonio to the Las Vegas Summer League title in 2015.

On Wednesday, the Spurs trailed 54-41 after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a pair of technical free throws following Popovich's ejection.

The Spurs cut the Lakers' lead to five before halftime and trailed by just eight multiple times in the second half before L.A. pulled away late.

Others lauded Hammon for making history on Thursday, including Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.

"Well deserved," Lakers coach Frank Vogel told reporters. "I've talked to her before and she really knows her stuff and obviously she's here for a reason. She's equipped, intelligent (and the) guys have great respect for her. She's going to be a great coach one day."

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris also extended her congratulations.

Kamala Harris @KamalaHarris

Congrats, @BeckyHammon. You may be the first, but I know you certainly won't be the last. https://t.co/dHXa9JFRWT

The Spurs, who are now 2-2, will play the Lakers again at home on Friday.