Nancy Lieberman and Becky Hammon courtside before the game Monday night looked just like two friends chatting each other up. And that’s what they were. But they were also making history in Sacramento.
Monday was the Sacramento Kings versus the San Antonio Spurs. And that means Kings assistant coach Nancy Lieberman versus Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon. They are the first two women coaches in the NBA, now facing each other across the hardwood for the first time ever.
“These guys,” Lieberman said, crooking her thumb over her shoulder at the Kings players taking warm-up shots behind her. “They embrace us. They champion us. And I couldn’t think of anything better.”
She’s had plenty of experiences to draw on as an Olympic silver medalist, league champion and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Perhaps above all else, she is an inspiration to young women with big dreams.
“To be here where two women are assistant coaches is crazy. It’s just crazy,” said Mo’ne Davis, who was on hand for the game.
Davis knows a thing or two about being an inspiration.
At 13 years old in 2014 she became the first girl ever to pitch a winning game in the Little League World Series. And she did it by pitching a shutout.
Now she says she’s got her sights set on playing in the WNBA.
“It’s not really normal seeing females in male sports. So I get that part of it. But for myself — I didn’t see such ‘big history’ that I was making until I thought about it later,” Davis said.
Monday, she was keeping some pretty illustrious company, sitting among former WNBA Champion Sacramento Monarch players and Debbie Meyers, the Sacramento woman who set a record by winning three swimming gold medals in the 1968 Olympics.
They were all at Sleep Train to honor the milestone being set in the NBA, and professional sports.