Warriors

Azzi explains significance of Spurs' Hammon making history

Warriors

Becky Hammon became the first woman to serve as a head coach during an NBA regular-season game, filling in for Gregg Popovich in the San Antonio Spurs' loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

What was it like for Stanford legend Jennifer Azzi, who played against Hammon in the WNBA, to see the Spurs assistant make history?

"It's awesome," Azzi, now an analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area, said Friday on "Warriors Pregame Live."

"It's a little bit like [seeing the U.S. women win] the World Cup, and you see women doing more and more incredible things, and the one change I'm seeing is how much women are supporting women. I think that's something that has been lacking in the past, and now, it's like you see someone do something great, [then] you see [Vice President-elect] Kamala Harris tweet she doesn't want [Hammon] to be the last. So women are pulling each other along, and we've always needed role models, so now these women are shattering stereotypes and breaking the glass. They're role models for all of us."

Hammon has been an assistant on Popovich's staff since 2014, becoming the first woman to serve as a full-time assistant coach for an NBA team upon her hiring. She became the first woman to serve as a Summer League head coach in 2015, leading the Spurs to a title. Hammon reportedly interviewed for the Indiana Pacers' head coaching vacancy during the offseason.

 
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Popovich told reporters Friday that "it made total sense" for Hammon to take his place Wednesday because the Lakers were a team she had scouted. He also understood why it meant so much to Azzi and others to see Hammon lead an NBA team.

"She's somebody who's very skilled and could very easily fulfill the duties of a head coach in the NBA," Popovich said (h/t Los Angeles Times' Dan Woike). "That goes without saying. There are women in every other endeavor in the world, whether it's government, science, technology, aviation, it doesn't matter what it is. Women do the same jobs as well and better than men. That's a fact. There's no reason why someone like Becky and other women can't be coaches in the NBA."