Before 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.