Less than a month before the first democratically elected female Vice President will be sworn into office on Jan. 20, another glass ceiling came crumbling down on Wednesday evening during an NBA game in San Antonio.
When San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected during the second quarter of a home game against the Los Angeles Lakers, assistant coach Becky Hammon took his spot, making her the first woman ever to serve as a head coach in a regular season NBA game, CBS Sports reports.
“Obviously, it’s a big deal. It’s a substantial moment,” Hammon said in a post-game interview (via NPR). The coach noted that she has spent years working toward the milestone.
Hammon, 43, played in the WNBA for 16 seasons on the New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars. She was still on the Stars’ roster when she began spending time with the Spurs and has occupied her current position since 2014.
The Lakers won Wednesday’s matchup, 121-107, but the W didn’t distract NBA superstar LeBron James from recognizing that history was being made on his opponent’s sideline.
“It’s a beautiful thing just to hear her barking out calls, barking out sets,” James said after the game (via NPR). “She’s very passionate about the game. Congrats to her and congrats for our league.”
Other players from around the league, including Steph Curry and Andre Drummond, took to Twitter to congratulate Hammon on the achievement:
HUGE shout out to @BeckyHammon for making history last night and breaking down another barrier
— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) December 31, 2020
The coach received praise from other barrier-breakers as well, including Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and tennis legend Billie Jean King. King noted that Hammon is the first woman to head coach any of the four major U.S. sports.
Prior to Wednesday’s matchup with the Lakers, Hammon has served as head coach for the Spurs in a number of scenarios. CBS Sports reports that she led the organization’s Summer League Team for several seasons, and she coached the team in an exhibition game against the Milwaukee Bucks before the NBA’s restart in Orlando last season.
Hammon made headlines earlier this year when she interviewed for the top coaching position with the Indiana Pacers and, according to CBS Sports, many believe that she will take over as the Spurs’ head coach when Popovich retires.