Becky Hammon: USA vs. Russia

Adam LindemerSenior Analyst IJune 14, 2008

Becky Hammon is fulfilling her life-long dream of playing basketball in the Olympics. The only problem is that she will be playing for Russia instead of Team USA.

She is a rising star in the WNBA at the top of her game, but apparently that's not good enough to earn a spot on the USA squad as it readies itself for Beijing in August.

Some have gone as far as calling her a "traitor," because she claims that she has nothing but love for America and yet she'll suit up for Russia.

There's one problem with calling her a traitor; Hammon can't be a traitor to America if America left her off the Team USA roster to begin with.

Seeing as how she plays for a team in Moscow in the WNBA's off season, and has been given Russian citizenship, Hammon accepted Russia's offer to represent their national team in Beijing.

It wasn't until after she accepted Russia's offer when Team USA extended an invitation toward her. As they say, "too little, too late."

Hammon did nothing illegal here, people. If you want to be angry at someone, be mad at Team USA for letting Hammon slip through its fingers. But there are some other factors in this story, too.

She was born and raised in South Dakota and is often classified as the "All-American girl" with her blond hair in a pony-tail—the classic 'girl-next-door' look. As a child, Hammon was terrified of the movie "Red Dawn," which showed the Russians coming to the Dakotas and invading America.

Back in the '80s, the Cold War was nearing an end, but Americans still feared Russia. Becky was taught that Russians are bad, so why would she ever want to play for them? It's simple...the Cold War is OVER.

The Olympics are no longer what they were when "The Miracle on Ice" happened. It's about athletes representing countries and trying to bring pride back to their country.

Hammon's family is not an ounce of Russian. Hammon speaks no Russian, but the country has embraced her as she accepted Russia for allowing her to play not only in the Olympics, but in the WNBA's offseason.

I support Hammon all the way, and that doesn't mean that I disregard America either. It was her choice; play for Russia, or not play at all.

Maybe Team USA will learn from this and not allow Hammon to go overseas in 2012. Or maybe they'll at least watch their American talent more closely next time.

I'll of course be chanting "USA, USA" in August, but I'll also be pulling for Becky Hammon as she lives out a dream and tries to show Team USA that they shouldn't have passed her over.