June 17, 2008

The Boston Globe’s John Powers opens his column today by asking the question, is Becky Hammon a traitor, or just a woman chasing her Olympic dream?

The answer to both questions may in fact be yes. But I have a bigger question:

Is there a better example of the selfish, self absorbed, me-first-the-hell-with-everyone-else culture of today’s generation than U.S. basketball player and WNBA star Becky Hammon choosing to play for the Russian women’s basketball team in the Beijing Olympics? My boldings…

The 31-year-old Hammon, who wasn’t among those in the original American player pool, says that she just wants to play in the Olympics and that she had only a remote chance of doing so for Uncle Sam. So when the Russian opportunity opened up as part of her seven-figure deal with the CSKA Moscow club, Hammon jumped.

“The jersey that I wear has never made me who I was,” Hammon told ESPN.com. “It has nothing to do with what’s written on my heart. Will I be playing for Russia? Yes. But I’m absolutely 100 percent still an American.”

It doesn’t take a genius here to figure out that the answer to my own question is an obvious YES. Not good enough to represent your country in the Olympics? No worries mate, just go play for another – no big deal, right? After, it’s the Olympics, right? And the girl’s just pursuing her dream, right?

Well, no.

Here’s what U.S. women’s basketball team coach Anne Donovan had to say about Hammon’s decision:

“If you play in this country, live in this country, and you grow up in the heartland and you put on a Russian uniform, you are not a patriotic person,” declared US women’s basketball coach Anne Donovan.

But it’s more than that – much more. While Powers rightly points out that Hammon is not the first of her kind to put personal ambition before country, that doesn’t let her, or those who preceded her, and certainly those who will undoubtedly follow her off the hook.

After all, there’s something bigger at stake here.

Say the Russian team wins a medal at the Olympics (not something out of the question, BTW – after all, it’s not as if Hammon will be playing for the basketball equivalent of the Jamaican bobsled team.) Will Hammon stand proudly at the podium while the Russian flag is being raised high and the Russian national anthem is playing? Will she feel any tinge of guilt, remorse, or unease at her own selfish act denying an otherwise-deserving Russian woman the once-in-a-lifetime chance of representing her own country proudly on the international stage?

My guess is, I highly doubt it. Because the only person Becky Hammon cares about is herself. And to hell with everyone else. I mean, a girl’s gotta pursue her dream, right? Even if it means squashing another’s.

I wonder if Hammon’s family, friends, and teammates are proud of her. Given today’s me-first generation and the Baby Boomers whose warped sense of values has helped make this all possible, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 05:31 | Comments (3)
  1. I don’t know if you follow women’s basketball regularly or not, but to say that Becky Hammon isn’t good enough to make the USA team is highly inaccurate. She was the runner up in MVP voting last year in the WNBA. (the winner, Lauren Jackson, is Australian, so one could argue that Becky was the best American player in the league last year.) The most probable reason she was left off the roster is because Anne Donovan wanted to add more shooting guards to the team (Becky’s a point guard) while only relying on one point guard (Sue Bird’s been a mainstay on the national team and isn’t going anywhere).

    I really think that if USA Basketball gave her a legitimate shot at making the team, and not some half hearted invitation to try out after she signed her contract with her Russian club, she would have forgone the money and tried out.

    And your self righteous attitude toward Becky taking a Russian’s place on the team is a bit much. Half of the Greek softball team is American, President Bush himself expedited the citizenship of Canadian ice dancer Tanith Belbin so she could represent the US in Torino; and I certainly hope you were on your soapbox in 1996 when Hakeem Olajuwon led the US to the gold medal even though he was born in Nigeria only to become a US citizen later in life. I guess he was being selfish and took a much more deserving natural born American’s spot on the team. Right?

    Comment by Sparks — June 18, 2008 @ 11:52 am

  2. Thanks for the comment, Sparks. Of course, you are correct in pointing out that what Becky Hammon is doing is hardly unique in the history of the Olympic Games, but that doesn’t make it right. Selfishness and classless behavior is not excused simply by the fact that others have done the same thing in the past.

    I don’t watch WNBA basketball so I can’t speak of Hammon’s talents or whether or not she deserves to be on the U.S. squad. But that’s not the point. The reality is that coach Donovan – for whatever reason – left her off, and that’s just the way the ball bounces. I doubt Hammon is the most talented or most deserving individual ever left off an Olympic team. But that’s life, and life isn’t always fair.

    The point here is this: it’s not just the fact that Hammon is depriving someone from another country the opportunity to realize their own Olympic dream, but that Hammon already has achieved in her own life the kind of success most people can only dream of, and it’s still not good enough for her.

    To put it bluntly: in so many ways Becky Hammon has already caught the gold ring in this thing called “life”. She’s talented, successful, and doing what she loves doing with all the perks that go along with being a successful athlete in the most prosperous country in the world. To deprive someone else – from their own country, no less! – the chance to catch their own gold ring simply because “it’s my dream, dammit, and no one’s gonna take it away from me” smacks of selfishness and no small sense of entitlement.

    It doesn’t matter who, why, when, or how often this kind of thng has been done in the past, it’s still wrong. And Becky Hammon would be a far better role model to those who follow her career and look up to her by accepting her situation with grace and class, and enthusiastically supporting and promoting her own country’s basketball team.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — June 18, 2008 @ 10:37 pm

  3. […] No ConscienceIf you play in this country, live in this country, and you grow up in the heartland and you put on a Russian uniform, you are not a patriotic person, declared US womens basketball coach Anne Donovan.http://goodboysnation.com/2008/06/17/no-conscience/ […]

    Pingback by anne donovan | edvdbox — June 21, 2008 @ 7:39 am

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