NBA: San Antonio Spurs Becky Hammon makes NBA history as first woman to lead team

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon made history on Wednesday (NZ time), becoming the first woman to take charge of an NBA team when she took over after head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected.

Popovich received two technical fouls with 3:56 left in the second quarter of the Spurs' eventual 121-107 defeat to the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.

"I did not walk into the arena thinking I would be coaching tonight, but that's the way things go and you roll with it, and I would have liked a different outcome," Hammon says. "Overall, I would have loved to get a win tonight more than anything."

Hammon did not know she would be put in charge if Popovich were to be ejected from a game. How did she find out?

"He officially pointed at me," Hammon says. "That was it. He said, 'You got 'em.' That was it. Very Pop-like."

San Antonio trailed by 11 points at the time Popovich was tossed.

"We all group together, (assistant coaches) Will Hardy, Mitch Johnson, 'What can we do to help?' " 

"It was all about what can we do to help win, It was a great team effort, and they are in my ear giving me suggestions and helping with substitutions and whatnot.

"When Pop gets tossed, we all come together and become kind of another team."

Hammon, 43, has been an assistant coach for the Spurs since August 2014, the first woman to be paid for that job in an official, full-time capacity.

She had a 16-year playing career in the WNBA, 1999-2006 with the New York Liberty and 2007-14 with the San Antonio Stars, the latter team owned by the Spurs.

"Obviously it's a big deal, a substantial moment," Hammon said of leading the Spurs on Wednesday. "I've been a part of this organization. I got traded here in 2007, so I've been in San Antonio and part of the Spurs ... organization with the Stars and everything for 13 years.

"So I have a lot of time invested, and they have a lot of time invested in me in building me and getting me better."

The achievement caught the eye of basketballing legends who thought this was a massive step forward for the elague and the empowerment of women.

"It''s a beautiful thing just to hear her barking out sets," four time NBA champion LeBron James says. She's very passionate about the game. Congrats to her and for our league."

"There shouldn't be any role that is deemed for male or female, Broklyn Nets gaurd Kyrie Irving says. "I'm greatful to be apart of history and Becky to make history and there is more history to be made for women and their empowerment in the workplace as well as their respect across the world.

"I'm glad that Popovich got ejected and put Becky in the driver's seat."