Instead, confusion reigned, with uncertainty about whether it was Hammon, promoted to Popovich’s top assistant last year, or Tim Duncan, the Spurs legend who was hired as an assistant in July, or Will Hardy, a fourth-year assistant. Although the top assistant usually takes over — this seemed to be a three-headed beast, coaching by committee. Hammon, a former WNBA star who coached the Spurs to the Las Vegas Summer League title in 2015, ran the coaches’ huddle during timeouts, with Duncan then conferring with players.
After the Spurs dropped to 5-8 with a 121-116 loss, Popovich cleared things up when asked who was the designated coach.
“Timmy was,” Popovich said, adding that he’s the one who scouts the Portland team.
But what about Hammon getting a chance to make history?
“I’m not here to make history,” he replied.
So … history will just have to wait, even though Hammon was long ago cleared for takeoff.
“I’ve been in the NBA for 17 years,” Pau Gasol, who spent two seasons with Hammon in San Antonio, wrote for the Players’ Tribune in May 2018. “I’ve won two championships. … I’ve played with some of the best players of this generation … and I’ve played under two of the sharpest minds in the history of sports, in Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. And I’m telling you: Becky Hammon can coach. I’m not saying she can coach pretty well. I’m not saying she can coach enough to get by. I’m not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA’s male coaches. I’m saying: Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball. Period.”