American Basketball Player Defects To Russia

Becky Hammon has played in the WNBA since 1999. Last season, she was second in that league’s MVP voting. But when the United States went to build their team, Hammon wasn’t even invited.

Becky Hammon

And that’s when Hammon issued her own code red.


Hammon is not of Russian descent, but was fast-tracked for Russian citizenship in February by the highest levels of Russian government. She has signed a four-year contract for more than $2 million to play for CSKA, a Russian professional club.

Because she has never competed in a sanctioned international competition for USA Basketball, rules allow her to represent another country in the Olympics. If Hammon leads the Russians to a silver medal, she’ll receive an additional $150,000 in bonus money. For gold, she’ll earn $250,000.

I’m sure the politics of the American teams are ridiculous, but how much better can they be in Russia? You might remember that the old Soviet teams were composed of “soldiers” that were basically being paid to play their sport. In other words, they were just like Southern Cal football.

Hammon benefits in that she’ll not necessarily renounce her American citizenship, but that Russia has no qualms about letting its pros play in the Olympics. And she’ll be getting more press stateside during the games than her American counterparts. And the money certainly doesn’t suck.