My fave memories of the legends
I played on a team with Katie Smith in the early 1990s when we were both in college and playing for USA Basketball. Much like it is today, Katie's skin was so pale it looked transparent. Much like today, she was deadly from the 3-point line. Unlike today, she was shy and a little bit chubby. That was at least 20 years ago. Now, she is nearing the end of an amazing basketball career.
Here are my favorite memories from Katie's career:
4. Sept. 10, 2013 versus the Phoenix Mercury: At age 39, in her last home game, Katie showed that she's still got it -- with behind-the-back passes, rainbow 3s and 17 points.
3. "The Trade" -- July 30, 2005: The Detroit Shock acquired Katie and a second-round pick from the Minnesota Lynx for Chandi Jones and Detroit's 2006 first-round pick. It has to be the most lopsided trade in the history of the league. But it put Katie in a position to win championships (and cemented coach Bill Laimbeer as "Trader Bill").
2. Oct. 5, 2008: Detroit won championship No. 3 by sweeping the San Antonio Silver Stars. Katie was finals MVP. After the game, I went into labor, giving birth to my son early the next morning. (OK, the events aren't related, but are still memorable.)
1. Her hairdo from the 1993 national championship game: If you can take your eyes off Sheryl Swoopes' 47-point performance, check out Katie's look. She wasn't the Buckeye wearing the bow in her hair, but her 1990s 'do was still sweet.
Tina Thompson and the Houston Comets won the first of their four WNBA championships in 1997, beating my New York Liberty in a single-elimination game. Shockingly, that didn't make the list of my favorite memories of Tina's career. But I was a teammate of Tina's in 2002 with the Comets. A few of those memories did make the cut:
4. Advice to live by: A few days before training camp opened in Houston, we were playing pickup. Coach Van Chancellor had told me to focus on playing on the low block. After I passed up a few open 3-pointers, Tina yelled at me to shoot. When I told her that Coach wanted me to focus on my low-post game, she rolled her eyes and said, "You can shoot 3s. You'll help our team if you can make the 3. Just shoot them."
3. Finish on a winning note: We would always finish practice with a scrimmage. If Van tried to end practice after Tina's team lost, she would insist we run it back. She never let practice end with her team losing. Drove me nuts -- because it meant we never ended practice with my team winning.
2. Style icon: Tina has always been one of the most stylish women in the league -- always looking good. I was in Houston calling a game in 2005, a few months after her son, Dyllan, was born. Tina's mom was carrying Dyllan in a baby carrier. Of course, it wasn't a Baby Bjorn like most moms have. It was Louis Vuitton. Not the most practical carrier … but stylish.
1. 2013 WNBA All-Star Game: Not the game -- but a conversation I had with Tina the night before. We were talking about her ninth All-Star appearance and she told me, "This is an honor, but I wish someone else on my team was experiencing it. This would be a great experience for Camille Little or Tanisha Wright. I'm honored to be here, but it would mean more to them." I mentioned that it was pretty cool that she had played in more All-Star Games than anyone else. Her reply? "You know I don't care about any of that."