Not all barrier-breakers are in it to make history. Becky Hammon says that's the case for her.
"It's not that I set out to say, 'I'm gonna be the first [female] assistant coach in the NBA,'" Hammon told Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America" in August. "It was never my intent. It just kind of happened, very naturally."
But, intent or not, tonight, she'll be doing just that, when she becomes the first female assistant coach in the NBA. She'll be on the bench for the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, who inked her to a two-year deal over the summer, when they take on the Dallas Mavericks in the first game of the 2014-15 NBA season at 8 p.m. EST.
When the news was announced over the summer, there was an outpouring of support from multiple circles -- both in sports and out. President Barack Obama even gave Hammon a shoutout.
Though the hiring may have been a surprise in its novelty, it wasn't particularly shocking to those who knew the 37-year-old or have followed her career.
Hammon is in a rare class of WNBA greats: She was voted as one of the league's 15 best all-time players; she made multiple all-star teams; and she ranks in the league's top ten all-time in scoring, assists, and three pointers made.
By all accounts, she's been a team leader with a great basketball mind for decades. So it was only a matter of time until she got this opportunity.
"Honestly, I didn't realize it was gonna be this big of a deal," Greg Popovich, the head coach of the Spurs, told Bleacher Report. "People kind of went crazy, like we've saved the world from fascism or something. It was much more important to reward her -- for who she is, what she's done and what I believe she can do, than worry about the reaction of people."
And Pop -- widely regarded as the best coach in the NBA -- sees something special in her.
"When you've been around it, you know who can coach and who can't coach," he added -- which is pretty high praise from someone who is tied for the third most championships ever among NBA coaches.
Despite his relative nonchalance, it's undeniably a big moment for both the sport and, frankly, the country. The NBA is one of the most visible corporate organizations around, and Hammon's opportunity is rightly not going unnoticed.
Women still earn just 77 cents to every dollar their male counterparts make, and often aren't allotted the same opportunities as men in the workplace. This is despite entering the workforce better educated than their male counterparts.
“Obviously this is a big deal, but the bigger deal is, I feel like there’s been greater pioneers to even get to this point. CEOs, COOs of companies, major trailblazers, people that went before me basketball-wise to allow me to have a 16-year playing career," Hammon said. "There have been so many other women who have been doing really great things.”
Indeed, Women have made other inroads in men's hoops in the past -- Violet Palmer is a female referee, there are female journalists and announcers, and basketball legend Nancy Lieberman coached in the NBA's Development League -- but Hammon will be the first in this position, with this level of visibility.
And from there, who knows.
"If I can inspire hope in a young person, if I can inspire someone to dream a little bit bigger than what they thought they ever could," she told "GMA," "I'm just so thankful."