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The Becky Hammon Debate

by Craig Edwards

Posted on August 14, 2008 at 8:13 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:41 PM

By Craig Edwards

For many athletes in Beijing, it's a dream come true; representing your country in the Olympics.

Basketball star Becky Hammon, a native of Rapid City, South Dakota, is proudly wearing the red, white, and blue at the Summer Games.

However, they're the red, white, and blue that represent RUSSIA and its flag.

I know what you're saying: "She's playing for another country?"

How did this happen? Here's a quick recap:

Despite being a WNBA All-Star and among the league's best players, Hammon was not invited to tryout for the USA squad. But she also plays pro ball in Russia (many WNBA players also play overseas), and became a naturalized citizen there last year. A provision in her Russian contract gave her the chance to play for Russia in the Summer Games, and live the dream of playing in the Olympics (she was later invited to a USA tryout, but couldn't participate due to other obligations).

That's when the controversy started, as USA coach Anne Donovan called Hammon "Unpatriotic" for playing for somebody else. Fans and players have defended Hammon. Others have denounced her. Expect more fireworks if Russia and the USA meet in the basketball tournament.

What do you think?

Before you answer, let me give you this one thought.

One of the principles of the Olympic Games is to bring the world together through sport.

Now think back 30 years... in the middle of the Cold War. Would Russia have ever talked to an American player, let alone invite them to join their Olympic team?

The case of Becky Hammon is further proof that the world is getting smaller every day.