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11 Мая 2012
Becky Hammon: Because of you

- So, let`s start...

- Ok, davay! (in Russian).

- In 2008 the Top three teams were: the US team, Australia and Russia. We`ve seen at Worlds and last year`s European championship that things are changing: Spain will miss the Olympics, other countries getting stronger - Great Britain, Turkey, France.. How do you think, are there any surprises coming this year?

- I think that French team is going to be very good. They have very strong post players, good perimeter players - Edwige Lawson will be playing for them, Celine Dumerc. They have some really strong players, so they will be difficult, and a challenge. I think everybody always knows about Australia, US, Russia. But after that, I think China could be good.

- Great Britain is really good…

- I don`t know about Great Britain, I`ve never played against them. I only know about French because last European championship we played against France, they beat us; their post players are very difficult.

- Will you join Russian National Team training camp in May?

- I don`t know, it will depend on my WNBA schedule, and when I can work out with Boris (Boris Sokolovsky - head coach of Russian NT). I will go right from here, May 1st, to San Antonio to play exhibition game on May 5th. I`ll try to get rest when I can get rest. I`ve played for Boris before - so I know the system, I know the girls. For me, the transition to play with the National Team will be easy. I understand plays and who the shooters are… so I`m not worried.

- How do you switch from WNBA to Russian NT?

- I`ve played here, many years; the biggest thing would probably be the language thing, and I already understand a lot more, better. Basketball plays are like «one, two, three» - I know these words, so it`s easier. «Roga», «golova», all these «odin, dva, tri» -  it`s terminology that I understand.

Becky answering our questions. Photo: Yulia Fedoseeva

- About the WNBA season… what are the goals of San Antonio this year?

- To win. Win it all

- With Ruth Riley moving to Chicago. What is the situation with post players?

- Yeah, I`m very sad about losing Ruth, but it`s part of the business. I told Ruth, «Talk to me», and she asked me about Pokey, and I said, «You`ll love Pokey, you`ll love playing for her». I`m glad she is going to that situation where she will be successful;  she`s a very good player. But for my own selfish reasons I will miss her very much.

Becky Hammon and Ruth Riley. Photo by D. Clarke Evans

- And she`s been a long time with the team.

- Very long time. And even before San Antonio, I`ve played with Ruth 3 years in this other league, so I`ve been with Ruth 8 years.

- What kind of sport would you choose to participate at the Winter Olympics?

- The Winter Olympics… curling. No, I`m just kidding    I would think I would do downhill, skiing. Or maybe the ones where they come off the jump, and they do acrobatic moves. No, hockey! I would do hockey 

- Are you good at hockey? 

- No. But I would try.

- What would you like to visit in London?(the capital of Olympics-2012)

- Big Ben. I`m looking forward just to see the Olympic village, it`s very interesting.

- And you haven`t been to London?

- I haven`t been to London before, so there`s lots for me to see and do.

- Sparta&K not only is a team with great players, but also you all are very supportive of each other - a solid team. And we would say since CSKA it`s the best team for you. Do you really feel like that? Like you are in your team?

- Yes, I love this team. I love the girls, the organization. For me this has been the best situation. I`m very happy here, and finishing this year I`m looking forward to coming back next year.

Becky Hammon and Anna Arkhipova. Team dinner. Photo: Yulia Fedoseeva

Sparta&K celebrating victory over UMMC. Photo: Yulia Fedoseeva


- You, Seimone and Candice are the key players for Sparta&K obviously. It seems that in many European teams American players are the leaders. How do you think, what domestic players need to keep at their highest level throughout the season and be leaders?

- Well, there is a difference between American players and European players. I feel like we have very good coaching from when we are very young, so it`s.. I don`t know, it`s a different level. We all go through college, so we have some younger players; they are growing and practicing with us. For us, we already had this growth period because we went through college, and we are older and more experienced. So a lot of it just have to do with experience, and just being very comfortable and being leaders. And a lot of it is required of us, people expect us. They don`t expect somebody, who is 19, to come and be a super leader - you have to learn how to lead people. Here, in Sparta&K, it`s different: Seimone is a leader in her team (Minnesota Lynx), I`m a leader in my team in San Antonio, Candice is a leader (Phoenix Mercury). So you have the leaders of the leaders over there! And Pokey - she is a very good leader, so Steve (Costalas, sports director) has done a great job at putting good pieces together.  

- Who is the funniest on the team?

- Seimone Augustus is the funniest… by far.

- And on NT?

- Who is the funniest on NT.. Kuzina is pretty fun. She`s always laughing. Who else.. nobody is really that funny on NT.. on Russian national team - I`m the funniest Russian! (laughs)

Becky Hammon and Marina Kuzina. World Championship 2010. Photo by pka_liloo

- Playing practically non-stop basketball, you obviously sometimes get tired, your game level can go down.. with all the expectations from you - how do you keep it all together and find your game?

- Espresso. Before the game.

- That`s the key!

- Yeah, it`s the key  You take care of your body, you try to get rest when you can get rest, take vitamins, you lift weights to make sure your body is strong. I think it`s just become part of our lives, so we know how to even perform sometimes when we`re tired. It`s so much of basketball, and everything is in your mind. So your mind has to be the strongest always, has to be the strongest muscle.

- By the way, how do you keep drinking coffee all your life?

- I didn`t even drink coffee until few years ago, maybe 6 years ago, until then - never. And now I`m addicted.

- Yeah, it can get you addicted

- You know this? Aha

- Basketball is obviously very competitive and sometimes players lose control over their emotions and even attack each other.

- Attack each other!?

- You didn`t see the Great Britain - Russia game (Eurobasket-2011)

- Oh, I saw that! But that`s the only play I saw.

Elbow from Ilona Korstin.  Eurobasket 2011

- And did that happen to you?

- Have I been elbowed before? Yes, somebody has hit me for sure.

- And yourself?

- I don`t know, I don`t like to play like that.

- You don`t lose control over yourself.

- I mean, I get mad more at myself or at the officials. But very rarely do I get mad at somebody like player. You know I get mad at officials, you`ve seen me get mad at officials.

Becky. Photo: Yulia Fedoseeva

- But not so often as other players.

- I get mad at myself mostly when I make mistake or something. I don`t get mad very often at other people. Until I`m perfect, I cannot get mad at her - I have to fix myself first.


- Becky, you, as a pro athlete, spend a lot of time on the road and probably became an expert at packing/unpacking :) Do you have any advice how to take one bag instead of 20?

- Well, my teammates, they make fun of me because I pack too much. But I`m a good packer! Often we have practice, then we have practice again, and I don`t like to wear the same clothes - I have to have clean clothes. I can`t just lay it out and dry it and then stick it back on. Actually the travels - this is the part that gets oldest to me. I don`t like to travel so much anymore. At the beginning, maybe 12 years ago - ok, it`s fine, we go here, I go to this city, and I go around and look - now I just want to stay in my hotel

- When you started playing in Russia, what was hard getting used to for you?

- When I first got here, the language just sounded like «bla-bla-bla» - I couldn`t understand anything (laughs). And now I can understand a little bit more, but I still have a lot to learn. I have to take a lesson, get a teacher.. But yeah, when I first got here, it just sounded like... crazy.

- And about Russian movies, books. Did you see or read some?

- No. I can`t read that good  And the words… russian language is very difficult, it has got very long words. You know, for us – «girl», yours – «devushka». The word «ponedelnik» - «Monday». It`s very difficult (laughs).

- You`ve been for a good while in Russia. Do you have any favorite places to visit?

- I like Vegas, the mall. We go to Pronto, Yakitoriya… in the city I like Marius, Nobu, Friday's. What else… oh, we like Kalina Bar! And then we go to Stockmann for groceries.

- And what about sightseeing?

- You know everytime a guest comes - he always wanna go to the Red Square, so I`ve been to the Red Square many times. But I always like going and taking pictures especially at Christmas time, I really like it, it`s very beautiful at Christmas time… oh, there`s another restaurant! «Pushkin»?

- «Pushkin», yes.

- I like this restaurant too   (pause). I like «Elki-palki» at Domodedovo airport (laughs)

- What Russian drink do you like most?

- Russian drink. Umm… (pause)

- Kvas, kefi, tea with lemon?!


- Russian Coca Cola...

- Umm… I don`t know, I go back and forth. I drink a lot of different things. I wouldn`t say just one is my favorite. But nothing can beat a Coke.

- Do you believe that everything ends on December 21?

- No. I don`t know what is December 21, what`s the end of the world. I don`t believe, no problem 


- How`s the website? It`s good?

- Of course 

- I see there so many people that I don`t understand, but they`re like [chatting or typing] all the way down. It`s very popular in Russia for basketball, no?

- Yees!

Becky answering our questions. Photo: Yulia Fedoseeva

- Spasibo! Because of you, guys 

- Because of you 

- You guys started it.

- And now it`s, I would say, the center of talking about Russian basketball. Fans of other teams come and talk here.

- That`s cool, that`s you, guys!

Flowers for Becky as always :)Photo: Yulia Fedoseeva
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