Hammon Snubbed Again By Shortsighted Team USA
April 10, 2012
Imagine if Steve Nash was American (he’s not, he’s Canadian.) It’s 2007 and USA Basketball is compiling a list of 25 or so American basketball players to invite to try out for the 2008 USA Olympic Basketball team. For some inexplicable reason, they opt to leave Nash off the list. No real explanation is given, just a list published with names like Michael Redd and Tayshaun Prince…but no Nash.
Yes, the team has point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams. As good as those guys are, neither is a two -time MVP, like Nash is. Obviously, Nash has been an NBA standout for a lot longer than Paul or Williams. It’s debatable as to who is the best player among them. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder in this case. But doesn’t it stand to reason, at the very least, that Nash would be invited to compete with Paul and Williams for that roster spot?
Again, this didn’t really happen because Nash is Canadian and was not a candidate for Team USA for that reason. But this example is used to mirror the situation with six-time WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon and USA Basketball. Nash is the best male comparison to the former Colorado State star, in terms of style of play and quality of career. And yes, Hammon was bypassed by USA Basketball when they selected their pool of candidates for the 2008 Olympics, even though she was selected first team All-WNBA in 2007 and was second in the MVP voting.
In 2007, Team USA Head Coach Anne Donovan refused to include Hammon among the 25-30 players she invited to the try outs. Hammon waited and waited to see if Donovan would include her, but when the final decision was made public, and all chances of playing for her home country had evaporated, Hammon was left with a choice: Sit out the Olympics, or take advantage of an invitation to play for Team Russia, where she was playing professionally at the time.
Hammon held dual USA – Russia citizenship at the time, which allowed her a better contract with the Russian club she played for during the winter months. The Russian team wanted her, the American team did not, and she wanted to play in the Olympics, period.
So Hammon suited up for the Russian team – and got publicly criticized by Donovan, who had made the indefensible decision to exclude one of the best American players available from Team USA in the first place. Donovan came out of the deal looking like a fool, even though Team USA cruised to a gold medal. Hammon led Russia to the Bronze.
In 2011, Hammon was selected one of the WNBA’s 15 best players OF ALL TIME. In August of that year, she became the seventh player in WNBA history to score 5,000 points. During the play-offs, Hammon scored 37 points in a playoff-clinching win against the Los Angeles Sparks. So it’s clear her “game” has not diminished much.
But some bad things never change, and once again this year, when the rosters for the 2012 Olympics came out, Hammon was not among the candidates for Team USA. Rookie Maya Moore was selected for the team – which would be like the Men’s team choosing Cleveland rookie Kyrie Irving over Nash. Is Angel McCoughtry ever going to be selected as one of the best players in WNBA history? Nope. Yet she is on the Olympic team. It’s preposterous.
This time Team USA is being coached by Geno Auriemma , the Head Coach at UConn, and guess what? There are five former UConn players – including Moore – on this year’s squad. What a coincidence, huh? The “Eastern Bias” lives in a lot more than just the media.
"The committee took into consideration what the competition is and who we're going to have to beat, and put together a really incredible group of players that is not only highly skilled and competitive, they're proven winners,” Auriemma said in his press release. “You have Olympic gold medal winners, World Championship gold medal winners, NCAA champions, WNBA champions, European champions. It's just a group of unique individuals that I'm really, really looking forward to coaching.”
Of course NONE of those attributes apply to Hammon, right? What a crock.
Just so you have this straight, Becky Hammon is one of the top 15 players in WNBA history. But she’s not good enough to ever play for Team USA. Hard to imagine anyone making sense of that.