Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hypocrisy and Bitchassness

Becky Hammon will play basketball in this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing. She just won’t do it for her native United States, instead suiting up for Russia. And Team USA coach Anne Donovan has an issue with that.

“If you play in this country, live in this country and you grow up in the heartland,” Donovan said, “and you put on a Russian uniform – you are not a patriotic person.”

Two memos for Donovan:

-The Cold War is over. Might want to get with the times.

-Last I checked, Team USA didn’t want Hammon on the roster. Hammon was not among the 20 finalists selected for the team, and she told it became clear to her she had no place on Team USA.

Why Team USA didn’t want Hammon is beyond me; Hammon was the 2007 WNBA MVP, averaging 18.8 points and 5.0 assists per game. While at Colorado State, Hammon led her team to a 33-3 record in 1998-99 and earned a Sweet 16 berth in the NCAA Tournament.

So given Hammon’s accolades, why didn’t Team USA want her? I realize names like Candace Parker and Diana Turasi took precedence, but was there really no room on the squad for a league MVP?

Ignoring the coaching staff’s roster oversight, let’s examine another important factor: Hammon has long dreamed of playing in the Olympics, and Team USA denied her that opportunity. So, realizing she also played professional ball in Russia (for much more money than she did in the WNBA) and held dual citizenship, Hammon decided to suit up for Russia.

Team USA didn’t want Hammon, so she decided to live out her Olympic dream somewhere else. Who wouldn’t have done the same thing, given the opportunity?

I realize the Olympics, ideally, are about representing your country, but Hammon’s native land made it clear it didn’t want her representation in China. So to get all hissy about her playing for another country now screams of sour grapes at best. At worst, it’s straight stupidity.

Which is stunning from someone as highly respected in women’s basketball as Donovan. If she was really that upset over Hammon playing for Russia, why did she not give Hammon a roster spot in the first place? Donovan has no business calling Hammon unpatriotic after refusing to give her a roster spot.

What was Hammon supposed to do? Shrug her shoulders and sit at home because the big, bad U.S. of A. didn't want her?

Hammon’s decision to play for Russia in the Olympics was not made out of national pride; it was made because an opportunity to live out her dream presented itself. Hammon is no more or less patriotic because of her decision; she was merely taking the opportunity presented to her, and I wish her the best.

Besides, it’s not like she’s the first Olympic athlete to play for a country other than that of their birth.

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