Becky Hammon is a point guard for the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars. I knew of her before tonight, because she spent several seasons with the New York Liberty. I was surprised to discover is that she now spends most of the year playing for CSKA Moscow in Russia. But the focus of the piece was her decision to pursue (and quickly obtain) Russian citizenship, so that she could suit up for that country in the Olympics. Hammon never on the short list of players under consideration for the United States' squad, so she went to where she was wanted - and well-paid; her four-year contract with CSKA is worth $2 million. This decision is drawing some criticism, most notably from American coach Anne Donovan, who said Hammon is "not a patriotic person."
I can understand where Becky's coming from; the opportunity to go to the Olympics comes to only a few, and it made more than enough financial sense for to choose the path she did. And Russia's motive seems plain - they get a player who is giving the Silver Stars 17.3 points and 4.8 assists per game, and was second in the MVP voting last year. But Hammon's only tie to the nation whose uniform she'll wear in Beijing is monetary, and that's more than a bit unsettling. People have played for nations other than their own many times over the years. Chris Kaman will represent Germany this year, and according to a recent Newsday column, half the Greek softball team from the 2004 games had American connections. But in both those cases, there are distant family ties. Hammon has none. From the way she sounded in the ESPN story, she sleeps easy with what she's done. But I'm not a fan, and hope her true countrywomen ensure she and her new teammates don't ascend to the top of the podium next month.