FanDuel - WFBC

April 09, 2008

Rushin' to the Olympics:: Former Silver Stars guard Becky Hammons becomes a naturalized Russian citizen in order to compete in the 2008 Olympic games.

posted by curlyelk to other at 11:12 AM - 65 comments

I'm curious as to why the U.S. team didn't seem to want her on the roster?

posted by THX-1138 at 12:19 PM on April 09

More power to Becky Hammons for her decison to play for Russia. I have to agree with what her father said to her, "'Well, if USA Basketball doesn't want you, go for it.'"

posted by BornIcon at 12:21 PM on April 09

She's a fine player. If the US team doesn't think so, it's their loss. (Are they really that deep?) And if it allows her to make more money as a pro for the next few years, well, what's more American than capitalism? Absolutely. Go her.

posted by chicobangs at 01:13 PM on April 09

"Hammon", fyi.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:07 PM on April 09

Interesting how a few of the other elite female players are also balling overseas. I remember reading an more in-depth article a while back about this on ESPN. Fascinating stuff, and if the NBA really wanted the WBA to succeed, they'd pony up the $$$ to keep the stars over here all the time.

posted by jmd82 at 03:15 PM on April 09

"WNBA", fyi. Quite a few elite women play overseas. That's not a matter of "bailing" -- the European leagues run on a winter schedule, while the WNBA runs on a summer schedule, so you can play in both. There's not really any need for the WNBA stars to stay "over here all the time" when they're not playing for the WNBA a significant chunk of the year.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:08 PM on April 09

So this is what the Olympics have come to. If you can't make your country's team, try to make another country's team. I don't think this is what the Olympic spirit is all about. During the last Summer Olympics in Greece, most of the Greek baseball team was made up of Americans, some of whom had Greek heritage, but others used the same ploy a Hammon. Personally, I can't imagine being so selfish as to pull this trick. What would it be like to win the Gold and then have to stand at attention to another country's national anthem? I'd feel like a bit of a traitor.

posted by Shotput at 05:30 PM on April 09

This is disgusting and she is full of bullshit. She received an invitation to try out but had "contractual obligations". It would be one thing if she had an ancestoral tie to Russia but this is disgraceful.

posted by budman13 at 07:03 PM on April 09

I get the "I wanna play in the Olympics" bit, but, as liberal as I generally am, I am Cold War aged and completely agree with Shotput. I don't know anybody who's childhood dream was to be standing at attention, hand over heart, lip-singing every other word to somebody else's bloody anthem. A completely selfish, un-Olympian act, in my opinion.

posted by bobfoot at 10:44 PM on April 09

I like budman also find this disgusting. Even though I am not naturally from the U.S, but I'm a citizen I don't understand her decision. Is her origin Russian or are her parents? It kind of does feel like you betrayed your country. I would understand if she played her club ball in Russia and she became a naturalized citizen but who would go there, it's cold as hell. Russia shouldn't even have accepted her, don't they have rules like in football(soccer) where a player has to play some years in a certain country to be able to play for that country?

posted by Scars at 10:45 PM on April 09

I find this funny the other day, with the big debate about Olympics and politics, and how it should be about the sport etc... THIS is why the Olympics are complete horseshit, and one of the many reasons I know longer follow them, and I used to follow them religiously. I used to watch hours and hours. Now it's just a joke. People playing for countries they barely qualify to represent, the sponsorship and corporate crap. It stopped being about the sport years ago. Scars: I remember two incidents involving this sort of thing. One was Greg Rusedski, who is Canadian. His British citizenship was rushed through so he could play for England at Wimbledon. (Ironically I was doing it the other way then. Sadly I am not good at any sport so had to wait like everyone else.) Then there was Vinnie Jones who was picked for the Welsh football team. He qualified due to having a Welsh grandmother if I recall.

posted by Drood at 12:00 AM on April 10

It's funny to hear everyone complain about what she is doing. Why doesn't anyone talk about the other WNBA players playing for other countries during the off-season... Oh that's right, they aren't playing against the US. Have our egos gotten so big that we banish anyone for going against us (in a sport)... Her only dream is to play in the Olympics and our country didn't offer until she started working toward playing for someone else (typical of society)... We have a lot of other problems in this country than to worry about that... If we are the elite, then what is anyone worried about. The Russian team only has 1 American. Should that be an issue for us... What about the NBA players that have been here for years that go back and play for their countries. Yes, they may be from that country, but then again, is there that much difference. They don't have problems coming here to take the great American dollar...

posted by bruce2ww at 07:45 AM on April 10

To all of you who feel disgusted: can you possibly be under the impression that this is something new?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:46 AM on April 10

I'd be pretty pissed off if I were a Russian player who didn't make the team so they could bring a ringer with no connection to the country.

posted by kokaku at 07:57 AM on April 10

Wherever she goes, wherever she plays, if she makes the team, she's taking someone's job. If the Russian government is okay with doing this (and they apparently have been for a long time before this), then blaming Becky Hammon for it is misplaced anger. Let me tell you, if I had the opportunity to play the game I love anywhere in the world I wanted to play, for four times my current salary, and all I had to do was carry an extra passport, well, what's the downside? Making money is the most American thing you can do. I don't see any problem with this.

posted by chicobangs at 09:24 AM on April 10

Quite a few elite women play overseas. That's not a matter of "bailing" -- the European leagues run on a winter schedule, while the WNBA runs on a summer schedule, so you can play in both. There's not really any need for the WNBA stars to stay "over here all the time" when they're not playing for the WNBA a significant chunk of the year. I agree with you that it's not "bailing" in the negative sense. More power to them being able to play in two leagues- I see no problem with it. Rather, I think that they go overseas to play in the WNBA offseason speaks volumes about the NBA's purported commitment to the league. With other sports, you don't see the top-tier athletes going elsewhere during the off-season because they're taken care, particularly in a monetary sense. I'm not convinced the same is true of the WNBA.

posted by jmd82 at 09:38 AM on April 10

I quit caring about the Olympics when they started letting professionals play.

posted by budman13 at 09:41 AM on April 10

This is nothing new. Zola Budd took British citizenship so she could compete in the 1984 Olympics. Then there's Fiona May, a British long-jumper who took Italian citizenship, and Wilson Kipketer, a Kenyan runner who took Danish citizenship, and I'm sure plenty of other examples. Did any of you complain when Monica Seles or Martina Navratilova took US citizenship?

posted by salmacis at 09:43 AM on April 10

I agree with you that it's not "bailing" in the negative sense. More power to them being able to play in two leagues- I see no problem with it. Rather, I think that they go overseas to play in the WNBA offseason speaks volumes about the NBA's purported commitment to the league. With other sports, you don't see the top-tier athletes going elsewhere during the off-season because they're taken care, particularly in a monetary sense. I'm not convinced the same is true of the WNBA. I'll admit that I'm not 100% clear on the economics of the WNBA, but I do recall reading within the last year that the league is subsidized by the NBA and that most if not all franchises operate at a loss. So it's not as if the NBA is lining its pockets with WNBA revenue and holding out on compensating the players. Womens professional basketball is (obviously) just not as big of a revenue generator as mens professional basketball and perhaps is not as big a revenue generator as womens basketball abroad. Should the NBA and/or WNBA owners lose money on the WNBA so that its/their players don't go overseas for more money? If the sport were more popular in terms of gate receipts and TV deals, I'm sure the players would be paid better than they are. Did any of you complain when Monica Seles or Martina Navratilova took US citizenship? I actually have no problem with what Hammon is doing (remember that awesome French guy the U.S. soccer team had in the 1998 World Cup when they finished last -- thanks a lot, David Regis), but this line of argument does not hold up. Seles had lived in the U.S. for over 14 years before she competed for the U.S. in the Olympics and, to my knowledge, Navratilova never competed for the U.S. in an international tournament. And each of them became U.S. citizens through a bona fide, "standard" naturalization process.

posted by holden at 10:07 AM on April 10

It kind of does feel like you betrayed your country. Nationalism is stupid. What the Olympics should be about is athletes and sports and co-operation and fair play; not this nationalist bullshit and corporate sponsorship and politics (I'm looking at you Beijing). Yet there are people that think that athletes pursuing their dreams to play in the Olympics, even if it means going to another country, is what's wrong with the Olympics? THIS out of all things? No, to me that's what's right.

posted by mkn at 10:17 AM on April 10

If the sport were more popular in terms of gate receipts and TV deals, I'm sure the players would be paid better than they are. FWIW, I'm of the impression that the gate isn't a big factor in the NBA's revenues -- I believe it's licensing and logo gear and the like that accounts for the bulk of it, not butts in seats. to my knowledge, Navratilova never competed for the U.S. in an international tournament Not quite. She was a member of the US Fed Cup team for several years. The more important difference, though, is that tennis is a sport where those in elite competitions are almost always representing themselves, not a nation. When you have nations-based teams, you will have this kind of flummery, and people will be outraged, because citizenship is supposed to mean something -- it's supposed to matter whether you represent the UK or South Africa in a way that it doesn't matter whether you represent Credit Agricole or Rabobank. The solution: get rid of the nations-based teams.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:25 AM on April 10

lbb said: The solution: get rid of the nations-based teams. We already have. In world soccer, we've had Brazilians playing for Croatia and Japan. There's a former Brit pro playing for Singapore, I believe. And the US had their French guy. And I'm sure there are more examples of this. So, official or not, it's already a done deal. There'll probably be a flap at some point where FIFA will make some lame attempt to have a foreigner quota on national teams (they've done that at the pro level but it's haphazard and limp-wristed at best) but it'll all blow over. Because everybody's got to be the winner, right?

posted by worldcup2002 at 12:54 PM on April 10

Like the move of US basketball players to foreign countries, with soccer you generally have (with the notable exception of Suriname and perhaps a few other nations) the dynamic of players going from football-rich nations to generally football-poor nations. While these moves may change the game around the margins -- e.g., in who qualifies for the World Cup, the Olympics or other major tournaments -- I'm not sure that you can point to any one team getting such an advantage that it has materially altered the outcome of a major tournament. (Although I imagine that is of very little solace to those nations for which World Cup qualification is a huge deal in of itself.) I suppose in some respects, this type of fuzzy naturalization is more "dangerous" in basketball, where one player can affect the game in a manner that a single play cannot in, say, soccer. Overall, though, I think it will have to take a critical mass of players from other countries on a winning national team before FIFA, IOC, or whatever other governing body really decides to look to get serious about doing anything about it. And thanks for the correction on Navratilova, lbb.

posted by holden at 01:10 PM on April 10

We already have. Well, no, we haven't. We still have 'em all parade in behind a national flag. So whatever the team composition, we haven't even come close to having teams that aren't nations-based.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:10 PM on April 10

I believe it's licensing and logo gear and the like that accounts for the bulk of it, not butts in seats. TV contracts dwarf all else and that's pretty much based on popularity. I quit caring about the Olympics when they started letting professionals play. 1928?

posted by yerfatma at 01:54 PM on April 10

Almighty buck ditates what and where somebody should or should not play for this or that country. Free country, leave Becky alone and let her bask in the Russian limelite. Comrades instead of teammates.

posted by giveuptheghost at 03:24 PM on April 10

Ahhh, a mountain out of a molehill. the USA has been benefiting from this arrangement because most athletes know the funding is better there. Now the shoe is a on the other foot in a couple of instances. Welcome to the club. It happens. And recall that if we're talking about the 'original' ethos of the games - the Ancient Greeks didn't make any divisions by nation or city state. It was simply athlete vs. athlete.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:30 PM on April 10

Hammon certainly has every right to play for whoever she wants to play for as long as she's not breaking the rules. And it seems pretty clear that she is not. But I found her comments interesting. In the article she says the following: "This is an opportunity to fulfill my dream of playing in the Olympics." Then later in the article, she says this: "But there's nothing I wanted more in my basketball career than to represent the United States. I grew up dreaming to play in the Olympics for my home country. " Well, Becky, which is it? Maybe I'm old school, but the dream of playing in the Olympics, for me, has always been about the unique responsibility/privilege of representing your home country and winning for your home country. Without that, it's just another sporting event. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But that's not what the modern olympics have been about. And again, she is free to do what she wants to do, but this does strike me as one of the more mercenary moves I've seen in terms of athletes playing for another country. U.S. athletes have certainly done this before but there is usually some connection with the nation they're playing for, such as a parent or grandparent from that nation.

posted by cjets at 04:36 PM on April 10

I think too many people are confusing professional sports leagues with the Olympics. I'm all for a person earning a living wherever and whenever they want. But the Olympics (modern not ancient Greco) were started for countries to come together in peaceful means for the purpose of freindly competition. My guys against your guys, in sport, not war. Now, the Olympics act like professional sports where people go anywhere. When the Olympics becomes all about the athlete and not their country of origin, then the entire concept is moot. Why have any opening ceremony? Why play anthems? Why have teams? If anyone can play anywhere, would it be possible to have a 'Miracle On Ice' or a 'Dream Team'? I kinda' liked it the way it was, because it's turning into nothing more than an international corporate AAU meet. And Weedy, your right, the Greeks did not separate into teams, but you can bet your sweet ass that when the Spartan beat the Athenian in the wrestling competition (done in the nude by the way), they were partying in Sparta that night.

posted by Shotput at 04:39 PM on April 10

1928? Bingo! It was all down hill after that.

posted by budman13 at 06:07 PM on April 10

"There'll probably be a flap at some point where FIFA will make some lame attempt to have a foreigner quota on national teams " FIFA had its flap in 2004 when African nations stated their desire to naturalise several Brazilians, Togo played five Brazilians and three others announced their intention to play for the Qatar national team. Sepp Blatter stepped in with an emergency statute requiring players to either live in the country they represent for two years or have a parent or grand parent born in that country. So the likes of Alex, (Japan), Eduardo da Silva, (Croatia), and Francileudo dos Santos, (Tunisia), were fine, but Ailton, Dede and Leandro were all denied their chance to represent Qatar. Current examples are countless, as Canada's Owen Hargreaves toils in England's midfield and in 2006 Simone Perotta became the first Englishman to lift the World Cup for 40 years.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 09:59 PM on April 10

This is nothing new. I believe that it was in 1936 that the British ice hockey team won the gold at the winter games. Of course, every member of that team was Canadian, and they were eligible to compete for Britain because of Canada's commonwealth status.

posted by Howard_T at 10:07 PM on April 10

Well, Becky, which is it? Maybe I'm old school, but the dream of playing in the Olympics, for me, has always been about the unique responsibility/privilege of representing your home country and winning for your home country. Without that, it's just another sporting event. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But that's not what the modern olympics have been about. I thought, at least, it was more about the best athletes in the world competing than it was the countries. It is a grand stage for athletes who don't get the recognition for 3+ years to grab a little bit of that spotlight. It's why I don't balk at the idea of professionals playing or athletes competing for countries that aren't their own. It's about the quality of the talent above the flags that are being flown. The nationalism in the Olympics is divisive and in a world that needs fewer defined lines between people, it would do everyone a world of good to see people of every nation competing together at the highest level.

posted by dfleming at 08:22 AM on April 11

The nationalism in the Olympics is divisive and in a world that needs fewer defined lines between people, it would do everyone a world of good to see people of every nation competing together at the highest level. Kumbya my lord kumbya.....In the modern Olympics like it or not an athlete competes for his or her country. All of this meeting on a mountain top and singing about buying the world a Coke is bullshit. When the U.S. hockey team beat the CCCP at lake Placid it was as it should be, the Americans beating them. Nationalism is a good thing. She's taking a crap on America and she should be soundly boo'ed when she returns home....or wait a minute...this isn't her home anymore.

posted by budman13 at 09:42 AM on April 11

I don't get why people are getting their knickers all in a bunch. Obviously, she wanted to play for Team USA but was denied of that "privilage" and decided to take it upon herself to see if she could compete for Team Ivan Drago. As soon as she was in the mist of being able to play for Russia, Team USA came calling and was like, "Hey Becky, wanna come play for us now?" It's ridiculous how people are saying that she should get boo'ed and all that when she's really not doing anything wrong or illegal here. What is so wrong of her to want to compete in the Olympics but not being able to do so because Team USA denied her of that chance but Russia did? Maybe I'm missing the point here but does this now make her unpatriotic or even a communist? Let's ban her from even entering American soil, that'll learn her.

posted by BornIcon at 10:12 AM on April 11

One thing I would miss if the Olympics got rid of the national team aspect is the competitors from small countries (or from large countries with no history of involvement in a particular sport) who really don't have a chance but who seem genuinely happy to be competing. It's like the Olympic version of the 16 seed in the NCAA tournament.

posted by holden at 10:34 AM on April 11

Kumbya my lord kumbya.....In the modern Olympics like it or not an athlete competes for his or her country. All of this meeting on a mountain top and singing about buying the world a Coke is bullshit. When the U.S. hockey team beat the CCCP at lake Placid it was as it should be, the Americans beating them. Nationalism is a good thing. She's taking a crap on America and she should be soundly boo'ed when she returns home....or wait a minute...this isn't her home anymore. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the only country in the world that could generate that kind of opinion is the U.S, this "you're either with us or against us" kind of nationalism.

posted by dfleming at 11:02 AM on April 11

Wow! Someone had 2 cups of hyperbole with their Wheaties this morning. When the U.S. hockey team beat the CCCP at lake Placid it was as it should be, the Americans beating them. Them! Them folks is evil, evil I tells ya! As it should be? Because this is how God would have wanted it, that whole Good over Evil, our rosy cheeked boys defeating those Godless bastards drivel? She's taking a crap on America and she should be soundly boo'ed when she returns home....or wait a minute...this isn't her home anymore. She's a witch, burn her, burn her!! Isn't what this young woman is doing truly the American dream? She's pursuing her goals and desires. What's wrong with that? Good for you Becky Hammon.

posted by tommytrump at 11:23 AM on April 11

I thought, at least, it was more about the best athletes in the world competing than it was the countries. It is a grand stage for athletes who don't get the recognition for 3+ years to grab a little bit of that spotlight. My comments were based on Becky's own words. She said that her dream was to play in the olympics and represent her own country. It's why I don't balk at the idea of professionals playing or athletes competing for countries that aren't their own. It's about the quality of the talent above the flags that are being flown. The nationalism in the Olympics is divisive and in a world that needs fewer defined lines between people, it would do everyone a world of good to see people of every nation competing together at the highest level. Every team sport I can think of has teams that represent a city, state or college/university. How else would you put together a team for the Olympics? Let the richest countries buy the best athletes? Draw straws? I'd be very interested in how you see this working. Again, I don't have a major issue with her playing for any country she wants to. I just think that in this case, it's a particularly mercenary approach.

posted by cjets at 11:46 AM on April 11

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the only country in the world that could generate that kind of opinion is the U.S, this "you're either with us or against us" kind of nationalism. Have you seen the World Cup? Those fans seem pretty nationalistic to me.

posted by cjets at 11:55 AM on April 11

cjets: Well, Becky, which is it? How about both? She had a dream to compete in the Olympics, and she had a dream to compete for the USA in the Olympics. Number two wasn't an option. She never said, "I want to compete in the Olympics, but only if I can do it for the USA." budman13: Nationalism is a good thing. She's taking a crap on America and she should be soundly boo'ed when she returns home....or wait a minute...this isn't her home anymore. She should be "soundly boo'ed[sic]"? By whom? By you??? Render unto me a break. If you have ever been to a WNBA game, or had any honest intention of ever attending one in the future, I'll be complete astonished. Saying that an athlete that you never gave a rat's ass about or a nickel to support should be booed when she fails to...what, turn down an option to compete in favor of an option to not compete? Don't talk nonsense.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:59 AM on April 11

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the only country in the world that could generate that kind of opinion is the U.S, this "you're either with us or against us" kind of nationalism. Try visiting some other countries sometime - the US has no lock on nationalist fervor.

posted by kokaku at 12:04 PM on April 11

cjets: Well, Becky, which is it? How about both? She had a dream to compete in the Olympics, and she had a dream to compete for the USA in the Olympics. Number two wasn't an option. She never said, "I want to compete in the Olympics, but only if I can do it for the USA." Again, LBB, here's what she said: "But there's nothing I wanted more in my basketball career than to represent the United States. I grew up dreaming to play in the Olympics for my home country. " It just seems odd to me that someone who grew up wanting to play for the U.S. ends up playing for Russia. I wonder how members of the 1972 U.S. Men's basketball team feel about it. As I stated earlier, this may be my old school response, an emotional reaction to her playing for Russia, rather than a western european nation or some other nation that did not have an previously antagonistic relationship with the U.S.. What if she were going to play for Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, or China (or pick the nation you despise the most) would you still feel OK about it?

posted by cjets at 12:21 PM on April 11

Every team sport I can think of has teams that represent a city, state or college/university. How else would you put together a team for the Olympics? Let the richest countries buy the best athletes? Draw straws? I'd be very interested in how you see this working. I'm not saying that the current system is flawed, I'm just saying that if someone isn't going to be on their home country's team and wants to join another country's team and that country is okay with it, the public shouldn't lambaste her for her lack of patriotism. She wasn't on the US' list of players invited to the team, signed elsewhere and then was contractually obligated not to play. There's nothing patriotic about sitting at home when your country doesn't invite you to play with them.

posted by dfleming at 12:24 PM on April 11

She's taking a crap on America and she should be soundly boo'ed when she returns home....or wait a minute...this isn't her home anymore. Despite being the best HS player in her state, Becky was ignored by the major colleges. She ended up being the leading scorer of all time -- man or woman -- in the WAC. Despite being an All-American, Becky went undrafted. She signed up with New York and ended up with two NBWL titles and an MVP, plus being all-WNBA and MVP candidate in 2007. Despite these credentials, the USOC passed her over in 2004 and 2008. She's done what she's always done -- found a way to play basketball. She still has a home here. It's quite literally just down the street from where I grew up. When she returns, we will greet her warmly and do what we can to protect her from jingoistic asses like yourself. What if she were going to play for Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, or China (or pick the nation you despise the most) would you still feel OK about it? It's basketball, for pete's sake, not world domination.

posted by joaquim at 01:07 PM on April 11

Every team sport I can think of has teams that represent a city, state or college/university. How else would you put together a team for the Olympics? Let the richest countries buy the best athletes? Draw straws? I'd be very interested in how you see this working. I think the only alternative to nation-affiliated Olympics would be to have corporate teams, like in the Tour de France. There is obviously already corporate sponsorship in the Olympics, it's just done on a national or sub-national (e.g., sponsorship of a particular country's basketball team, swim team, softball team) basis. But without the money of corporations or of national Olympic organizations, the athletes would presumably not have the financial wherewithal to compete. In which case the Olympics might become like the U.S. Senate -- a playing ground for multimillionaires.

posted by holden at 01:10 PM on April 11

She's a witch, burn her, burn her!! What makes you think she's a witch? Well, she turned me into a newt! A newt? ... I got better. Burn her anyway! By the way LBB I enjoy watching the WNBA on the tube. There isn't a team that's close by or I'd be going to the games which has nothing to do at all with the topic at hand. She could play pro ball for Iran and I wouldn't give a damn but this is the Olympics. It is about nationalism and yes we're the mean old U.S.A. who bails everyone's butts out when they get in a jam. I get all warm and fuzzy when an American stands on top of that podium and gets a medal. And for those that need a little history lesson when our boys beat the Evil Empior's hockey team we were locked in the midst of the Cold War. Russia was our enemy but more so than that their Red Army team was for all intent and purpose a professional team so that gave us added enjoyment.

posted by budman13 at 01:25 PM on April 11

I wonder how members of the 1972 U.S. Men's basketball team feel about it Can you explain the relevance? FIBA hosed the US basketball team in 72, not the Soviets. It seems that some people are upset by Hammon's decision because they still HATE the Soviets. Except that with the Cold War over and Russia attempting something other than Communism, it seems a bit harsh. Take off the Members Only jacket and join the present. Becky Hammon can play basketball for any country that will allow her to do so, including Russia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lichtenstein, Mexico, China, Metropolis, Translyvania, Vichy France, or Vietnam, and its OK with me.

posted by curlyelk at 01:31 PM on April 11

I don't know. Metropolis is where I draw the line. The minute she puts on that Radio-Ga-Ga silver uni and steps through that oversized clock onto the court against another dystopian silent society, that's where I step off the Becky Train. Because just like Fritz Lang, I only see things in stark black and white.

posted by chicobangs at 01:41 PM on April 11

Can you explain the relevance? FIBA hosed the US basketball team in 72, not the Soviets. The rivalry with the Soviets. I think any member of the 1972 Olympic team would look askance at a US citizen who chose to follow his/her dream of playing in the olympics by playing for Russia, especially if she has zero connection to Russia. I'm not saying I agree but people went apeshit over Rick Pitino coaching Lousville or Rich Rodriguez leaving West Virginia to coach Michigan. I'm sure most of you can think of an athlete/coach who disappointed you by leaving a team you rooted for. So I don't know why it's so hard to understand that people wouldn't like her playing for Russia. I don't agree with any extreme reactions and I agree that it's her right. But I don't have to like it. The Olympics are a special category of sporting event(to me, anyway) and this just seems like a mercenary approach. If I can't play for my country, I'll find a country that I can play for and become a citizen of that country.

posted by cjets at 01:54 PM on April 11

Becky Hammon can play basketball for any country that will allow her to do so, including Russia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lichtenstein, Mexico, China, Metropolis, Translyvania, Vichy France, or Vietnam, and its OK with me. Really? Vichy France? As long as you're going historical on me how about Nazi Germany? Are you OK with her playing for Nazi Germany?

posted by cjets at 02:08 PM on April 11

From what I understand, Max Mosley has recruited a couple of pretty promising point guards for Nazi Germany.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:14 PM on April 11

Yup, He really whips them into shape.

posted by cjets at 02:19 PM on April 11

It is about nationalism and yes we're the mean old U.S.A. who bails everyone's butts out when they get in a jam. That's a hell of a job the U.S.A. is doing bailing out Iraq's butt. I get all warm and fuzzy when an American stands on top of that podium and gets a medal. Congratulations, get all warm and fuzzy when Becky Gammon stands up on that podium, should she and her teammates be skilled enough to get there. She's not giving up her American citizenship, she's just playing for Russia in the Olympics. And for those that need a little history lesson when our boys beat the Evil Empior's hockey team we were locked in the midst of the Cold War. Russia was our enemy but more so than that their Red Army team was for all intent and purpose a professional team so that gave us added enjoyment. History Lesson: The American team did not beat the Red Army team, they beat the Soviet National team. Red Army was a club team. As an aside, the U.S.A. beat Finland to win the gold medal. The U.S.S.R.(not Russia) may have been your enemy, but it certainly wasn't mine. Comparing the Soviet National team to the New York Yankees { Evil Empior's (sic) }, come on, you must admit that's a little extreme.

posted by tommytrump at 02:20 PM on April 11

But the Olympics (modern not ancient Greco) were started for countries to come together in peaceful means for the purpose of freindly competition. My guys against your guys, in sport, not war. Hmmm....is it possible that binary my-guys-against-your-guys thinking perpetuates a war-like mindset? The modern Olympics were introduced in 1896 and their "peaceful competition" played out against perhaps the bloodiest century in the history of humankind. Or maybe you're right: the bloodshed would have been worse if we didn't have the salve of Olympic competition every quadrennial.

posted by smithers at 03:38 PM on April 11

cjets: Again, LBB, here's what she said: "But there's nothing I wanted more in my basketball career than to represent the United States. I grew up dreaming to play in the Olympics for my home country. " Okay. I am having a very interrupt-driven day, so it's possible my parsing skills are not at an all-time high...but I really don't see anything in there that says, "I always said that if I couldn't play for the USA, I wouldn't play at all." Everybody's got their ideal outcome, but if they don't get it, most people have something else that they'd accept. Li,e, there's nothing more I want in my skiing (ahem) career than to run away to A-Basin for an entire winter and just go native. The fact that that ain't a-gonna happen doesn't mean that I'm not ever going to ski again -- it means I'll take what I can get. I think that what Becky Hammon was saying in that statement is that yes, playing for the USA in the Olympics was her dream, but she's not saying that she wouldn't accept anything less than that. It just seems odd to me that someone who grew up wanting to play for the U.S. ends up playing for Russia. I wonder how members of the 1972 U.S. Men's basketball team feel about it. You'd have to ask them. They might have a bit of a grudge, although as others have pointed out, 'twasn't Russia that jobbed 'em. But a lot of us have moved beyond the Cold War. What if she were going to play for Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, or China (or pick the nation you despise the most) would you still feel OK about it? Honestly, what I'd still feel is that it's none of my business.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:48 PM on April 11

Really? Vichy France? As long as you're going historical on me how about Nazi Germany? Are you OK with her playing for Nazi Germany? Sure. Its no skin off my back. Its not like she's a spy or something. She's not denouncing America and everything we represent. She's playing ball for Russia. bloodiest century in the history of humankind You can attribute this to the formation of alliances and lingering imperialism. Not so much the Olympics.

posted by curlyelk at 03:54 PM on April 11

I think that what Becky Hammon was saying in that statement is that yes, playing for the USA in the Olympics was her dream, but she's not saying that she wouldn't accept anything less than that. I guess we'll just agree to disagree (and I freely admit that I'm bringing an old school approach to the Olympics). What makes the Olympics so special (again, my perspective) is that you need to be the best in your country to make the olympic team. That's one of the reasons why it's such an honor to play for your country. If your approach is that you'll play for any country that will have you, it diminishes the special quality of playing in the olympics and makes it much closer to any other sporting event instead of a chance to represent your country. There's also something else about it that irks me. This type of move reminds me of parents in schools who frown on the idea of winners and losers. "There's no winner because everyone wins." (If you remember "MEET THE FOCKERS" you might remember Robert De Niro making fun of Ben Stiller for his NINTH PLACE RIBBON. "I didn't know that they made ribbons for ninth place."). It's the same attitude that has led some parents to try and outlaw dodgeball. OK, I'm rambling here. But the point I'm trying to make is that in competition there are winners and losers. Hammon was not selected for the US Olympic team. Not everyone's going to win all the time. Sometimes you need to take your lumps and move on. And I don't think going off to Russia, becoming a naturalised Russian citizen to play for their olympic team is the right choice to make. Again, for the third time, it's her right to do so. I just don't have to like it. Are you OK with her playing for Nazi Germany? Sure. Its no skin off my back. Its not like she's a spy or something. She's not denouncing America and everything we represent. She's playing ball for Russia. I couldn't disagree more. The idea of an American citizen becoming a citizen of Nazi Germany or a Sudanese citizen (to contemporize it) just because of their own selfish desire to play in the olympics just turns my stomach. When you play for a specific country, you represent them in the olympics.

posted by cjets at 04:24 PM on April 11

What makes the Olympics so special (again, my perspective) is that you need to be the best in your country to make the olympic team. And, by most metrics, she is. She still didn't make the team. But there's no politics... There's also something else about it that irks me. This type of move reminds me of parents in schools who frown on the idea of winners and losers. I fail to see how. The Russian team doesn't get spotted 20 points. They don't lower the basket two feet for them. She's going to play on a team that's trying to win, not one that "frowns on the idea of winners and losers". When you play for a specific country, you represent them in the olympics. And in 20 years, when you play for American Express or McDonald's or Toyota, you'll be representing them in the Olympics. Big. Fucking. Deal. cjets, the Olympics didn't just yesterday become a sad joke.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:32 PM on April 11

I fail to see how. The Russian team doesn't get spotted 20 points. They don't lower the basket two feet for them. She's going to play on a team that's trying to win, not one that "frowns on the idea of winners and losers". She "lost" in her quest to play for the U.S. team, her lifelong dream. So rather than accept the loss, she becomes a naturalised Russian citizen? Sounds like someone who can't accept the fact that she lost. And in 20 years, when you play for American Express or McDonald's or Toyota, you'll be representing them in the Olympics. Big. Fucking. Deal. cjets, the Olympics didn't just yesterday become a sad joke. I think I'd rather discuss the here and now than your speculative fiction. The Olympics, right now, are about representing your country.

posted by cjets at 04:42 PM on April 11

And in 20 years, when you play for American Express or McDonald's or Toyota, you'll be representing them in the Olympics. OK, I changed my mind. Let's speculate. Would you be OK if she played for the Walmart international team? Or how about the Halliburton/Blackwater team?

posted by cjets at 04:48 PM on April 11

That's a hell of a job the U.S.A. is doing bailing out Iraq's butt. Yes, yes they are. You need to actually do some research instead of listening to the mainstream media's constant drumming on any negative. Whether you want to admit it or not it is better than liffe under Saddam. Congratulations, get all warm and fuzzy when Becky Gammon stands up on that podium, should she and her teammates be skilled enough to get there. She's not giving up her American citizenship, she's just playing for Russia in the Olympics. She's obtained Russian citizenship so why would I get all warm and fuzzy for a Russian or the Russian team? I'm not Russian. The American team did not beat the Red Army team, they beat the Soviet National team. Red Army was a club team. As an aside, the U.S.A. beat Finland to win the gold medal. The U.S.S.R.(not Russia) may have been your enemy, but it certainly wasn't mine. Comparing the Soviet National team to the New York Yankees { Evil Empior's (sic) }, come on, you must admit that's a little extreme. You're right, they beat the Soviet National team. I don't recall saying anything about the gold medal game. That was almost anti-climatic to our victory over CCCP. Finally, I tend to think that if some one points an ICBM at my country they're an enemy. If she had an ancestoral tie to Russia I wouldn't have a problem. Many Americans have obtained duel citizenships to compete for Israel.

posted by budman13 at 05:15 PM on April 11

Please, keep it on topic. Political discussions are beyond the scope of this site. Take those to email.

posted by chicobangs at 01:54 PM on April 12

Would you be OK if she played for the Walmart international team? Or how about the Halliburton/Blackwater team? cjets, as I think I've already made quite clear, I don't care! That doesn't mean I'm happy about it; I've just come to regard the Olympics as a lost cause. Nice idea. Lovely parades. Used to was, and still is in spots, some good athletic competition. But it's just got too many things wrong with it. When something's gone really, deeply wrong, I have a hard time caring about the exact flavor of the wrong-ness.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:53 AM on April 14

Well, LBB, I'd agree that the Olympics are deeply flawed. But I still think that the Olympic Games are worth having or, taking your perspective, worth saving. But Hammon's choice to become a naturalised Russian citizen to play in the Olympics, is a mercenary decision that further diminishes the Olympic games.

posted by cjets at 10:17 PM on April 14

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