Popovich 'not at all surprised' after Hammon wins WNBA Finals in first year as coach

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Becky Hammon was rewarded for leaving Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs as she led the Las Vegas Aces to the WNBA title on Sunday.

Hammon was Popovich's long-time assistant before being hired by the Aces last year, having been passed over for senior NBA roles.

But the six-time WNBA All-Star responded by delivering the Aces their first championship courtesy of a 3-1 Finals win over the Connecticut Sun.

In doing so, Hammon became the first first-time head coach to win the WNBA title since the league's debut season in 1997.

This success came as no surprise to Popovich, however, who said: "We are all thrilled for coach Hammon.

"Winning a championship is a remarkable achievement for a first-time head coach in her first year with a team, yet I'm not at all surprised by her success.

"Becky has proven over and over that she has a unique understanding and passion for the game of basketball.

"Congratulations to Becky, her players and the entire Aces organisation. They played the right way the entire season and were a true joy to watch."

Aces owner Mark Davis added: "She's been absolutely unbelievable, and I guess this legitimises the way we went after her."

But Hammon sought to direct the praise back onto her players, telling ESPN: "Just getting to know them on a day-to-day basis, who they were as people, they're unbelievable on the court, but they're unbelievable humans, first and foremost.

"They care about each other, they invest into each other. It's been an absolute honour to be their coach.

"I saw excellence and I wanted to be a part of it. I'm just super thankful – one through 12, I love you all. It's been so much fun, so much fun."