Last season, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon became the first acting female head coach in NBA history when she took over the Spurs against the Los Angeles Lakers after Gregg Popovich was ejected. It was a major milestone for Hammon, and women everywhere, but at the time, the weight of the moment didn't dawn on her.
"What dawned on me is: I want to beat the Lakers, I want to beat them really bad," Hammon said during an appearance on NBC's 'Inspiring America: The 2021 Inspiration List,' via My San Antonio. "I guess it's amazing because you're going about your work and then you have these moments where it's like, this is happening."
.@BeckyHammon says she wasn't thinking about stepping into history when she became the first woman to coach an NBA team. "What dawned on me is I want to beat the Lakers," she tells @hodakotb.— CNBC (@CNBC) April 27, 2021
"Inspiring America: The 2021 Inspiration List" will air May 1 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. pic.twitter.com/IadfAimbhH
While Hammon is proud of that accomplishment, she is far from satisfied, and she made it clear that she's ready to be the NBA's first full-time female head coach, whenever that opportunity may present itself.
"I mean, this ball is never moving fast enough, in my opinion," Hammon said in the interview. "People don't like doing something new and different. It's uncomfortable. It takes massive amount of risk. Somebody's going to have to take a chance... In some ways, I feel like it could be in a year. In other ways, it could be 10 years. I'm not really sure. What I'm sure of is, I'll be ready."
In addition to a prolific WNBA career that included six All-Star appearances, Hammon has served as an assistant with the Spurs since 2014. In those seven years, she learned a whole lot about the league under Popovich's tutelage, and the future Hall of Fame coach believes that she's ready to lead a team of her own.
"We didn't hire Becky to make history," Popovich said of Hammon last season, via ESPN. "She earned it. She is qualified. She's wonderful at what she does. I wanted her on my staff because of the work that she does. And she happens to be a woman, which basically should be irrelevant but it's not in our world, as we've seen as it's been so difficult for women to obtain certain positions.
"Women do the same jobs as well and better than men. That's a fact. There's no reason why somebody like Becky and other women can't be coaches in the NBA," he said. "On a larger scale, that's why it wasn't a big deal to me -- because I know her. And I know her skills, and I know her value and I know her future is very, very bright. I understand the attention it got, but in all honesty, I assumed that most people already knew that she was qualified to be a head coach in the NBA."
There's no doubt that Hammon is qualified -- there are coaches that have gotten gigs with far less overall experience than she has. Now, it's just a matter of opportunity. Hammon previously interviewed for the Bucks head coaching gig in 2018, but they ultimately decided to go in a different direction. Luckily for her, every offseason there are some teams looking for a new coach. Hopefully, her opportunity will come soon.