SAN ANTONIO – Becky Hammon says she will be “ready” when and if an NBA organization gives her the opportunity to be its next head coach.
Hammon sat down with NBC News’ Hoda Kotb for a wide-ranging interview about being a trailblazer in professional sports and her career.
Earlier this season, Hammon became the first woman to coach an NBA team in a regular-season game on Dec. 30, 2020.
Hammon took over head coaching duties for the Spurs against the Los Angeles Lakers after Gregg Popovich was ejected. She was asked about the historic moment.
“What dawned on me is I want to beat the Lakers. I want to beat them really bad,” Hammon said in the interview. “It’s amazing because you’re going about your work and you’re doing it, and then you have these moments where it’s like, ‘this is happening.’”
Hammon joined the Spurs as an assistant coach in 2015 after she retired from the WNBA. Hammon has had a few interviews with NBA front offices for head coaching jobs and has been elevated to one of Popovich’s lead assistant coaches. Still, she told Kotb she is not sure if she’ll get the opportunity to be a head coach in the near future, but she is ready.
“This ball is never moving fast enough in my opinion. People don’t like doing something new and different. It’s uncomfortable. It takes a massive amount of risk. Somebody is going to have to take a chance,” Hammon said. “In some ways, I feel like it could be in a year. In other ways, it could be 10 years. I’m not really sure, (but) I’ll be ready.”
In 2015, Hammon became the first full-time assistant coach in men’s professional sports. She was asked about the initial criticism she received from people who claimed the Spurs were just “checking off a box” in an effort to hire a woman. “There was no box. I was the box,” Hammon said.
The Spurs assistant coach was also asked about being overlooked when she was younger and responding to people who doubted her as a suitable coach for a men’s team.
“There’s one thing that I think you can be sure that life will give all of us and that’s heartache and failures,” said Hammon. “But it can also give you hope. It can give you love and how you react in those moments eventually will be kind of what defines you in who you become.”
During Women’s History Month in March, KSAT-12 profiled Hammon’s journey from South Dakota to the San Antonio Spurs. You can watch read about her journey here and watch in the video player below.
WATCH: Spurs players, former assistant coach Borrego reflect on Becky Hammon becoming first women to coach NBA team in regular season: