Inside the minds of WNBA players

This is Our Game:
New York’s Becky Hammon

Liberty guard Becky Hammon has been defying the odds stacked against her throughout her entire basketball career. As an undersized guard at the Division I level, she first led Colorado State to its first NCAA Tournament berth and later her team to the Sweet 16. She went undrafted after she graduated in 1999, but signed on with the Liberty and was not an immediate hit. But the tenacious Hammon worked on her game, waited her turn and earned a shot as a starter. But it was not until a season-ending injury in 2003 and the subsequent rehabilitation that she emerged as a true superstar in the WNBA. In 2005, she was named All-WNBA Second Team. At that pace, who knows just how great she can be...

Q. What is your motivation when don't feel like working out, running that extra mile, or waking up early?
"I think those are the times when you have to motivate yourself even more so. Those are times when you have to get up and go harder. Most of the time, once I get to the gym and have a good workout, I feel much better anyway, so knowing that, I don't like to skip it. If I do miss it, I know I'll feel worse later so I might as well go and do it in the first place. I guess just knowing how it's going to make me feel when I'm done. That sense of accomplishment. You get more energized when you work out. The end result motivates me.."

2005 All-WNBA honoree Becky Hammon
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
Q. Was there a time in your career or lifetime of playing basketball when you thought about giving up the game?
"Never gave up. Always stayed focused, looking forward and doing whatever I needed to do to get my knee better. Never really lost that. Some of the weights got monotonous after awhile, but I was so mentally driven and focused on getting back to the court that I was going to do whatever it took. There is not a better job in the world for me. To get up and play a game and do what you love and get paid, it's a huge blessing to be able to do what I do. It's just important to never take it for granted. Often times, when I do moan and groan, I think back to 2003 when I couldn't have it. That drove me crazy."

Q. So did being out in 2003 motivate you to be even better?
"I missed it like crazy when I was away. I was fit to be tied trying to get out on the court. We took it really slowly, so I had to be patient. It was a trying time. You want to rush back, but with ACL injuries, you can be back in six or seven months, but is that the best thing for your injury? Probably not. Time is the best thing for it, to let it rest and heal. It's also amazing what doctors can do now. The human body's ability to heal and repair itself after such trauma is amazing. For what they do, and I had the greatest doctor, he did a great job, world-renowned. I remember when he walked in for surgery that morning. It was like 6am, he came in at like 4am from being out. But I was just glad to see that he wore his glasses."

Q. In these past two seasons, you have been as good as anyone and led your team to the playoffs. Do you work out more than you did back then?
"Do more quad and hip strengthening. More so than I did in the past. Maintain muscles so that they can protect the knee."

Q. How important is a healthy diet and good nutrition for your overall success??
"I pretty much eat whatever I want for the most part. But I do try and get some vegetables every day, whether it is in a salad or whatever."

Q. So what else drives you? Do you have other goals you've set for yourselves off the court?
"I have been doing some television this offseason. I relly want to stay in the game, so I might get into coaching. Probably college or the WNBA. Depends on what opportunities come up. Maybe do some motivational speaking. Those are things that have all crossed my mind. Trying to lay the groundwork for each of those a little bit, so that when I do stop, I do have some things to fall back on."