After Gregg Popovich Ejection, Spurs Go With Tim Duncan Over Becky Hammon

Hammon would have made history as the first woman to lead an NBA team

(L-R) Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovitch, and Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs talk during the second quarter of the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on November 13, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
(L-R) Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovitch, and Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs talk during the second quarter of the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on November 13, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
By Bonnie Stiernberg / November 17, 2019 10:50 am

After Gregg Popovich was ejected in the third quarter of the San Antonio Spurs’ 121-116 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday (Nov. 16), there was confusion over which of his assistants would take over as acting head coach and whether or not Becky Hammon would make history as the first woman to lead a major men’s professional sports team in America.

Some assumed that Hammon, Popovich’s lead assistant, would be his natural successor, but three assistants — Hammon, Will Hardy and Tim Duncan — were described as working together and “coaching by committee” during the Spurs’ broadcast. After the game, Popovich clarified that Duncan was the acting head coach because he was the assistant responsible for scouting the Blazers before Saturday’s game.

A woman has never served as head coach or acting head coach of a team in the NBA, the NFL, the NHL or Major League Baseball. But when reminded after the game that Hammon would have made history if she had been named acting head coach, Popovich reportedly responded, “I’m not here to make history.”

However, Hammon still could make history at some point if Popovich is ejected during a game against one of the teams she is assigned to scout. There is also speculation over whether she will eventually be named head coach whenever Popovich, 70, decides to retire.

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