Hammon’s mission to Russia

becky hammonBefore the Olympics wrap up, we must highlight a story that has been covered primarily by newspaper columnists. Becky Hammon, a WNBA player for the San Antonio Silver Stars from South Dakota, signed up to play with the Russian Olympic basketball team after she received a four-year contract worth $2 million to play with one of the country’s professional teams. This meant accepting Russian citizenship, marching into the Olympic Stadium under the Russian flag and wearing the Russian uniform.

This has not made everyone happy. Some critics are asking if she is a traitor. Others are asking whether she is just a good American capitalist. However, there seems to be a religion ghost that everyone is ignoring.

A reader of ours reports that in a post-medals interview, the first thing she did was acknowledge her personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The reader also found an article about Hammon from earlier this summer where she is quoted saying the following:

“I didn’t say no to USA Basketball,” Hammon recently told the Houston Chronicle. “The option for me to play for USA Basketball really wasn’t an option. … I don’t think people would be as upset if I was playing for Switzerland. God loves Russia just as much as God loves America.”

If that quote isn’t enough to suggest that there is something deeper going on in Hammon’s life regarding religious faith, see this column:

Hammon, though, insists economics weren’t the determining factor in what she characterizes as a “soul-searching” process. It was about the Olympic opportunity she didn’t have in America.

Was the opportunity purely an athletic decision? Or does Hammon have a bigger mission in mind in going to Russia to play basketball? Here on Saturday The Los Angeles Times writes that “Hammon never intended to make a political statement. She simply wanted to play basketball in the Olympics.” Somehow, I doubt that is the entire story.

Photo of Hammon shooting a basketball during her visit to Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, February 2002, used under a Wikimedia Commons license.

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  • Completely12

    Found this online:

    “Becky Hammon, the San Antonio Silver Stars (WNBA) player who played for Russia in the Olympics, after winning a bronze medal, first thanked her “personal savior Jesus Christ, who made all this possible,” then went on to say, when asked about her relationship with her Olympic teammates, “I was always brought up to leave people better than you found them.”

    Missionary motives?

  • Jerry

    She simply wanted to play basketball in the Olympics.” Somehow, I doubt that is the entire story.

    Having evidence for such a belief is, of course, to raise the statement from the level of sheer speculation.

  • Roberto Rivera

    She was the subject of a profile in Sports Illustrated. In it, Hammon was portrayed as the classic outsider who had to prove herself over and over again. She played at the only college (Colorado State) that offered her a scholarship; she was a low WNBA draft choice who proved that she was better than the players selected before her; and when it came time to play for the USA, Team USA expressed perfunctory, at best, interest in her. When Russia, where she plays in the WNBA off-season and is paid more than at home, offered here a chance, she took it.

    I think that you are seeing something that probably isn’t there. She may have some religious motives but her principal ones appear to be a chance at the Olympic experience.

  • http://www.geocities.com/hohjohn John L. Hoh, Jr.

    This was a basketball tournament, not a war. Besides, wasn’t the original intent of the Olympics to transcend nationality and allow athletes at the highest levels to compete against one another? Finally, the religion ghost isn’t very different from a football player praying after a score or a group gathering after a game for a group prayer. The only difference is that Hammon transcends nationality by pointing to a higher authority.

  • Chris Bolinger

    Hammon’s Web site is virtually religion-free.

  • Chris Lorraine

    I agree with the other responses that are skeptical of becky doing this for any reason beyond money and her ” dream “. I have watched a fair number of WNBA games in the past few years and used to be a fan of Hammon’s before this decision took place. In following this story I have heard Becky’s story and rationale change on a weekly basis. First it was a dream, then strictly a business decision, then not a business decision, then done for the purpose of her love and compassion for the Russian people. I saw a video of her at a San Antonio Silver Stars ” Faith Night ” in June . These are held every few weeks for people to celebrate God and their faith. She spoke at this event and instead of honoring and praising God, she could only talk of defending her decision to play for Russia in the Olympics. She mentioned one of the things she gave up to be a good Christian was her bottle of Coke in the morning ( no I’m not making this up ). She had been in San Antonio since 2007 and she could only attend a Faith Night a year later, and then to defend a selfish ( I think ) opinion like this ? I think she has been grasping at straws to find some kind of explanation that some people might actually believe.


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