Assistant coach Becky Hammon was the leading voice in a key coaching decision in Sunday afternoon’s victory for the San Antonio Spurs. Without Hammon’s insistence that the Spurs should challenge a pivotal foul call, the Spurs may very well have lost to the Miami Heat. Instead, San Antonio escaped with a 107-102 victory.
With 1:28 left in the game against the Heat, Jimmy Butler was awarded a three-point play by the referees. On the play, he was bumped before he went up for a layup that was goaltended by Spurs guard Derrick White.
Instantly, players and coaches disagreed with the call. Head coach Gregg Popovich thought about challenging it before deciding against the challenge. But then Hammon came to the rescue. Here’s the video of the moment when she successfully changed Pop’s mind.
Pop listened to Hammon and decided to challenge the call. The refs looked at it and denied the challenge. But here’s the important part: While the refs found that Butler was indeed fouled, they ruled that he shouldn’t have been given continuation. As a result, his three-point play was wiped away and the Heat were given the ball instead.
Thus, instead of Butler going to the line with the ability to cut San Antonio’s lead to 105-103, Miami had to settle for inbouding the basketball. Considering that the Spurs never scored another field goal in the game, Hammon’s decision very well could have been the difference between a big win against a quality opponent and another demoralizing loss for the Spurs.
To make matters more impressive, the decision Hammon had to make was a difficult one. She had to be confident that Butler was fouled before he gathered the ball, otherwise the continuation would have been the correct call.
If Hammon would have been wrong, the Spurs would have been left with only one more timeout and nothing to show for the challenge. But she insisted — and the Spurs were rewarded.
Becky Hammon’s Future with the San Antonio Spurs
Although Pop signed a three-year contract with the Spurs this past offseason, there’s no guarantee that he’ll stick around for all three seasons. In fact, there are rumblings that his last coaching job could be for Team USA this coming summer at the Olympics.
If Pop decides to retire, Becky Hammon will be in the running for a promotion to head coach. While the Spurs don’t officially list her as the team’s lead assistant coach, she has certainly showed that she’s not afraid to speak up, even in tense situations.
If Hammon isn’t the next head coach of the Spurs, there’s a good chance that she’ll be given that opportunity by an NBA team at some point in the not too distant future.