Did Becky Hammon make history? Gregg Popovich ejection sparks mass coaching confusion

Did Becky Hammon make history? Gregg Popovich ejection sparks mass coaching confusion

Gregg Popovich left the San Antonio Spurs’ matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers early on Saturday night, picking up a pair of technical fouls in the third quarter en route to an ejection.

Without the legendary coach on the bench, however, it wasn’t clear who was running the team.

In fact, it was extremely confusing.

In theory, Becky Hammon would take over the top spot. Hammon, who was promoted to the head assistant job in 2018, is next in line. And, when a head coach is ejected, the top assistant usually steps up to finish the game.

If that were the case, it would be a historic first — not only in the NBA, but in major men’s professional sports in the United States. Hammon would be the first woman to ever serve as a head coach among major men’s professional sports, even if she did so for just a little more than a single quarter.

Yet if that is what happened, it certainly wasn’t clear. It looked much more like a team effort from Popovich’s assistants, with both assistants Tim Duncan and Will Hardy sharing leadership duties with Hammon. At times, all three coaches were sitting down during gameplay, too — making it even harder to tell what was running the show.

According to Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News, the Spurs decided to embrace the team mentality, too.

To be fair, it is extremely hard to replace a coach like Popovich. He has been with the organization since 1988, won five NBA titles and made the playoffs in every season since he took over as the head coach in 1997. The 70-year-old became the head coach of Team USA this summer, too. It’s understandable that it would take a group to fill his shoes.

Still, having a designated head coach — whether it be Hammon, Duncan or anyone else — seems like a prudent thing for an NBA organization to have at all times, even if it’s just symbolic.

This post will be updated with more information shortly.

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November 16, 2019 at 07:48PM

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