Becky Hammon coaches Spurs in exhibition vs. Bucks — with Pop as her assistant

Jason Owens

The San Antonio Spurs had a new head coach on Thursday — for one game at least.

When the Spurs took the floor for their bubble exhibition against the Milwaukee Bucks, Becky Hammon took the head coach’s chair with a masked Gregg Popovich as her assistant.

Turner Sports’ Taylor Rooks reports that the Spurs will rotate head coaching duties among their assistants for their three exhibition games before their regular season bubble debut against the Sacramento Kings next Friday.

Does that mean we’ll see Tim Duncan lead the Spurs later this week? That’s not clear. Duncan and Hammon are among five assistants on Popovich’s staff. Hammon is Popovich’s longest-tenured assistant and gets the first chance to flex her head coaching muscles in the bubble.

The Spurs made NBA history when they hired Hammon as the league’s first-ever female assistant coach in 2014. She worked her way up to the front row of San Antonio’s bench in 2018.

Duncan got the call in regular season

However, she didn’t get a chance to coach a regular-season game in March when the opportunity arose. When Popovich missed a game against the Hornets to attend personal business, the head coaching duty landed on Duncan.

Becky Hammon, seen here in a regular season game in January, served as the Spurs head coach for their bubble exhibition. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Becky Hammon, seen here in a regular season game in January, served as the Spurs head coach for their bubble exhibition. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Will Hammon get a head coaching shot?

Hammon played 16 years in the WNBA, making six All-Star teams. Her name is regularly floated as the top candidate to become the NBA’s first female head coach.

Thursday was not her first shot leading the Spurs in an exhibition. That came in 2017. She has also served as the Spurs’ Summer League head coach, where she led the team to a championship in 2015.

“It's an amazing opportunity for me,” Hammon said of coaching the exhibition game in 2017. “But we're a teaching program, and that comes directly from [Popovich]. So for him to give us this opportunity and the guys here a different voice, that's what his [coaching] tree is kind of all about. It's mentoring and bringing people along.”

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