Becky Hammon became the first woman to lead an NBA team after the San Antonio Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected against the Los Angeles Lakers. Popovich put assistant coach Hammon in charge after he was removed in the second quarter of the Spurs' 121-107 defeat by the Lakers in Texas.

Hammon, who joined the Spurs in 2014, said: "Obviously it's a big deal and a substantial moment "I try not to think of the huge picture and huge aspect of it because it can be overwhelming.

“I was trying to get the guys in the right spots and trying to get them motivated. Obviously, it’s a learning situation for all of us, but I would have loved to have walked out there with a win with the guys.”

Former WNBA star Hammon, who was the first woman to join an NBA coaching staff, said she did not know she would take charge if Popovich were to be sent off until he pointed at her and said: "You got 'em."

Popovich was thrown out by official Tony Brown after shouting and entering the court when he felt a foul was incorrectly not called.

Scoring double figures for a 1,000th consecutive game, extending his own NBA record, LeBron James led the Lakers with 26 points on his 36th birthday.

"It was a beautiful thing just to hear her barking out calls, barking out sets," he said, “and congratulations to her and for our league."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said: “Well deserved. I’ve talked to her before and she really knows her stuff and obviously she’s here for a reason. She’s equipped, intelligent (and the) guys have great respect for her. She’s going to be a great coach one day.”

A three-time All-American at Colorado State, Becky played for the New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars in the WNBA as well as overseas before retiring to join Popovich’s staff in 2014.

She is the first full-time female assistant coach in league history.