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Spurs’ Becky Hammon convinced Gregg Popovich to use coach’s challenge on crucial play that won the game vs. Heat


San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon played an instrumental role in the final moments of San Antonio’s 107-102 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon.

The Spurs led by five with just over a minute remaining when Heat guard Jimmy Butler drove on Spurs swingman DeMar DeRozan. Although DeRozan appeared to commit the foul well before Butler gathered for his layup attempt, the referees granted Butler with the and-1 continuation.

San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich was clearly upset with the decision, but initially it did not appear he would challenge the call. However, Hammon eventually persuaded him to use a coach’s challenge:

The Spurs won the challenge. Although Butler would get to the line just a few seconds later, those seconds (as well as the loss of the extra point) proved crucial as San Antonio held on for the win.

Hammon is the highest-ranking assistant in the NBA. She also very well could be in line to be the first female head coach in NBA history. Hammon even had the opportunity to be recognized in the history books earlier this year, though a few words from Popovich quickly erased that chance.

Popovich was ejected from a game in November, which naturally would have implicated Hammon–his top assistant–took over as acting head coach. This would have made her the first woman in history to serve as the head coach for a men’s professional sports team in the U.S. Instead, Popvich said after the game he designated Tim Duncan as acting head coach.

This is not to say Popovich does not hold Hammon in high regard. After all, he did make her the first full-time female assistant in league history.

But from coaching San Antonio’s Summer League squad to the events transpiring on Sunday, Hammon continues to flex her chops as a head coaching prospect.