— -- San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich opened up about assistant coach Becky Hammon's leadership in the team's Las Vegas Summer League title, expressing his respect for and confidence in Hammon's expertise and insight.
In a radio interview with the Bay Area's KNBR on Wednesday, Popovich discussed Hammon's impact on the team.
"It became huge when we hired her, and now it's even bigger because of the summer league situation. But we didn't even think about that stuff," the five-time NBA champion coach said.
Perhaps more than he had been previously, Popovich was transparent about his reasons for hiring Hammon, who spent time observing the Spurs' coaching staff during a yearlong recovery from an ACL injury she suffered in July 2013 while playing for the San Antonio Silver Stars.
"I hired her because she was in my coaches meetings for an entire year because she was injured," Popovich said. "She's got opinions and solid notions about basketball. Obviously, she was a great player. As a point guard, she's a leader, she's fiery, she's got intelligence, and our guys just respected the heck out of her, so she's coaching with us, she's running drills. That's why we made her a full-time coach and gave her the opportunity to coach at summer league."
Popovich made clear that he was never fazed by bringing in a female coach and that Hammon's qualifications and ability were his utmost considerations.
"I don't even look at it as, well, she's the first female this and that and the other. She's a coach, and she's good at it. I think some people thought this was some kind of gimmick or we were just trying to be cool. I'm glad she's there. I respect her opinion, I enjoy the give-and-take with her, and when she went to the summer league, that stuff's about development. ... That was her purpose at summer league, and she did a great job trying to make guys play the way we wanted them to play."