The story didn’t wait long, however. Duncan’s coaching career only lasted a season after he decided to leave the staff in November to return to family life. Hammon’s assistants on the bench are Will Hardy, who also works as an assistant to Popovich in his role as head coach for basketball in the United States, and the newly promoted Mitch Johnson.
The 43-year-old Hammon was fired from Colorado, but played in the WNBA for 16 years, where she was all-star six times. After being handed over for the US Olympic team, she represented Russia, where she had also played professionally, at the 2008 and 2012 Games.
On her flight home from the London Games 2012, Hammon’s seatmate was Popovich. She remembered him asking her, “So if you were an assistant to me and I asked you something, would you tell me the truth?”
She replied, “I don’t know why else would you ask if I shouldn’t tell the truth.” He replied, “Well, I don’t want yes men.”
In 2013, Hammon tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee, abruptly ending her WNBA season. During her rehabilitation, she worked as a coaching intern at Spurs. Soon after, Popovich hired her as the league’s first full-time assistant coach.
At the time, she said of Popovich, “To be honest, I don’t think he gives two cents, that I’m a woman. And I don’t want to be hired because I’m a woman. “She was the head coach of Spurs’ Las Vegas Summer League team three times and won the 2015 title.
This year there were more milestones for women in sport.
In November, Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a regular season game at one of college football’s Power 5 conferences and score when she stepped for the team. Kim Ng was the first woman hired to lead the baseball operations of a major league team when she was named general manager of the Miami Marlins. In a July exhibition game, the San Francisco Giants’ Alyssa Nakken became the first woman to train on the field in major leagues.