Saturday, June 28, 2008

Is Becky Hammon Russian?

American native Becky Hammon will be wearing Red, White and Blue colors but for team Russia, not team USA.  WNBA star and Grand Rapids, S.D. born Hammon will fly high with the Russian national team this Augusts in the 2008 Olympic games.  Hammon's plays 8 months out of the year in the Russian basketball league, where she recently applied for and quickly earned citizenship prior to the Olympic games.  The 31 year old Hammon has received a lot of criticism for playing on the Russian team, some even calling her a traitor.  

Hammon was the WNBA MVP runner-up last season playing PG for the San Antonio Silver Stars.  After that showing last season, she somehow failed to make the pool of players for the USA Basketball team and was extremely disappointed.  She went overseas like she has done the past couple seasons (a place where many of the WNBA players go in the long off season), and signed a lucrative contract with club team CSKA Moscow.  After signing in Russia for six times more than she makes with her WNBA team, she finaly was given an invitation to try out for team USA.   

Before leaving, Hammon and her agent Mike Cound reached out to USA Basketball to get a better understanding on where she stood.  They came away with the impression that she wasn't in serious contention to make the team team and represent America in Beijing.  So Hammon took her Olympic dream elsewhere.  Russia naturalized her in only a couple of months as a dual citizen and since she had not participated in any FIBA international basketball games for team USA or any other team, she was allowed to play for the Russians.

I can understand Hammon's dream and desire to play in the Olympics, but she has no ancestral heritage in Russia, she is a native of South Dakota. and was born in America.  The only connection to Russia that she has, is that she plays basketball in a Russian league, that pays better than the WNBA.  I know this occurs in FIFA soccer a little bit, but soccer is different and most players tend to permanently reside in their new country for many years and play in their respective leagues as small children.  Look at Freddy Adu.  He was born as a citizen of Ghana, and came to America at a really young age. He now is seen as an American ad I bet many soccer fans did not even know of his Ghanaian roots.  

 I understand that the laws of the game and of the country allow her to become naturalized as a dual citizen in USA and Russia, and that FIBA laws allow her to represent Russia because she has never played internationally before, but come on people.  She is American 100% and should not be allowed to play for another country.  If all athletes in every sport starting doing this, then athletes would technically be allowed to chose a country, anyone in the world,  get citizenship there and then represent that country of your liking internationally as long as you have not played any other international games.  

To me the whole point of competing internationally is to represent the country you love and are proud to be a citizen of, because you are the best that country has to offer in that sport.  Hammon is a good player and should have tried out for the team, maybe she would have even made it if she showed well.  Second in the WNBA MVP voting is not bad at all, she could have at least showed her stuff to the coaches.  Instead she chose to represent team Russia a country she and many others were scared of as little kids.  I just don't get it.  Play hard at tryouts and if you don't make it, give it your best shot next year, or tell your agent to rep' you to the coaches harder.

Check out this clip to see some Becky Hammon highlights.  She really looks like nothing special...at least from the highlight real


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