After starting out the season 3-0, the San Antonio Spurs have struggled, and entered Saturday night's matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers on a four-game losing streak. Things weren't getting any better in this one, and early in the third quarter, with the Blazers up by 15, head coach Gregg Popovich took out his frustration on the officials and got himself ejected.
Coaches get tossed from games all the time, and unless they do something truly wild, it isn't a notable event -- in most cases. The Spurs are unique, though, in that their bench features former WNBA legend, Becky Hammon, and former Spurs legend, Tim Duncan. Those two, along with Will Hardy, appear to be the future of the coaching staff in San Antonio, and all three took over on Saturday night.
In classic Spurs fashion, it was a team effort, with Hammon running the coach's huddle during timeouts -- for those who aren't aware, the coaching staff huddles by themselves for a brief period during timeouts before going back to the bench to talk to the team -- and Duncan then taking over when it was time to talk to the team. During play, all three stayed seated on the bench.
That made it difficult to determine who was the acting head coach, which again, in normal circumstances wouldn't really matter. But no woman has ever been the head coach of an NBA team, which would make Hammon taking over the role -- even for the remainder of the game -- a historic achievement.
Later in the game, the Spurs' broadcast noted that the team was delegating it a three-person "by committee" coaching staff, and Popovich said during his postgame press conference that Tim Duncan was the acting head coach.
While that means no history, it should be noted that Hammon -- who is listed as the Spurs' top assistant coach -- made the signal for a coach's challenge at the end of the game, which would seem to indicate she was officially in charge when it mattered.
In any case, Popovich's ejection did seem to have an effect on the Spurs, as they turned things around quickly, ripping off a 42-18 run after the ejection to take the lead. Unfortunately for them, they weren't able to complete the comeback. The Blazers finished strong, and secured a 121-116 win to hand the Spurs their fifth straight loss.