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Time is precious
By Becky Hammon, Special to the Rapid City Journal, 9/3/01

Let me just say I'm not totally surprised that I am writing my final article of the season now. It seems like there are a lot of things that could have, should have, would have, but didn't turn out the way we on the New York Liberty all thought they would.

This time of the year is one of my favorite, but also one of the most trying as well. All season long, I run, run, run - and have no time. Though my time has slowed some, it still seems to be one of my most precious possessions once the season ends. Even though basketball is over, being pulled in many different directions never seems to end. Having many opportunities that demand my time is a good thing, but it can be a troubling thing if I let it be.

Time ... I don't know where it went this year. It flew by, and it seems like yesterday that I wrote my first article and laid all the Liberty's expectations on the table for the world to see. And when you do that, you risk falling on your face for the entire world to see. In sports - and life - though, sometimes that's what it takes, to just lay it out there, and let the chips fall.

During the 2001 WNBA season, the Liberty were expected to walk up and grab the trophy. Right? I wrote this throughout the year, that it's not who starts the race, but who finishes it. Just ask the Charlotte Sting. We fell short this year. For us right now, there are a lot of questions, some finger pointing, and still not a whole lot of answers.

I have my own opinions on why we're not holding the championship trophy, but I'm sure most people have opinions on that too. It's the first time in my career that the Liberty didn't reach the finals. It's a feeling I'm definitely not used to - and don't want to get used to. Toward the end of the season, we were a very up and down team, sometimes showing up great one night, and the next night ... well, you figure it out. It wasn't a very good trait for a veteran team such as ours.

It's unfortunate that things turned out the way they did, and what I plan on doing is making sure that I'm not going to have to write another article like this next year. That has been the story of my career; getting knocked down, getting back up stronger, smarter, and better. Sometimes the only thing we can control is our contribution and effort. I can't control every shot, every call, or every time I'll be put in the game. I can control only my mechanics and my focus, and give the best minutes I can give for my team - and that's all that is required of me. It's all that is required of any of us - doing our best with what we've been given.

If I take care of this, when I look in the mirror every day, I can smile and be happy, knowing I gave it my all.

Becky Hammon, an all-state basketball player at Rapid City Stevens and an All-American at Colorado State, is in her third year of pro basketball as a member of the WNBA's New York Liberty.