UNCASVILLE — It began her apprentice year at USC. Tina Thompson played OK in the aboriginal exhibition d and afresh abundant bigger than OK, scoring 23 credibility in the second.
“I had a huge amount of classes my apprentice year, article like 16 or 18 units,” Thompson said Friday on the eve of her almanac ninth — and final — WNBA All-Star Game. “I was hasty through my days, my canicule were arranged and I aloof larboard my lipstick on.
“I played a really, absolutely acceptable d and one of my accompany said it charge accept been the lipstick. I’m like, maybe, and I aloof started cutting it for no added acumen than that.”
And two decades later?
“Oh,” Thompson, 38, said. “Now it’s allotment of my uniform.”
The league’s best arch scorer, four-time best and the alone woman to comedy in every WNBA division is blind up that compatible for acceptable at the cessation of the 2013 Seattle Storm season. If Dorothy begin her home in the movies by cutting bittersweet red slippers, Tina begin her home in the WNBA cutting her bittersweet red MAC Diva lipstick.
“When Tina retires, no one should be able to abrasion Diva anytime afresh in the WNBA,” said Diana Taurasi, who’ll be Thompson’s West assistant Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena. “I anticipate her jersey should be retired in every arena. If you comedy in the WNBA, that should be your goal: to be like Tina Thompson.”
Rebecca Lobo, who bankrupt into the WNBA in the antecedent division of 1997 with Thompson and afterwards was a Houston assistant of Thompson, had addition idea.
“At the basketball Hall of Fame,” Lobo said, “they should accept her locker with aloof the lipstick there.”
If we are to attending above the cosmetic, of course, we are larboard with one of the abundant and able antecedents on and off the court.
Over 17 seasons, Thompson accepted she not alone could bang with the best about the rim, she additionally could footfall alfresco with a all-embracing jumper. Growing up on the courts of Robertson Park in West Los Angeles, she played on the ambit adjoin her brother TJ and the added boys. In aerial school, as a assistant of Lisa Leslie at Morningside in Inglewood, she confused inside. Together, she and Leslie would move on to USC and abundant afterwards would accumulate with the LA Sparks.
Thompson’s WNBA almanac 7,218 career credibility and 15,597 account played angle as a statistical accolade to her adeptness and durability. She has a whopping 885 added credibility than No. 2 Katie Smith. Thompson is third best in rebounds.
“Tina is the ultimate WNBA player,” Taurasi said. “Year 1, No. 1 abstract pick. Apparently the best bequest in the WNBA is the Houston Comets, to win four in a row, to comedy with Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl Swoopes and still be a superstar in her own right.”
Said Thompson: “The third championship with the Comets stands out the best for me in my career. Our acquaintance and assistant Kim Perrot was aggressive cancer, it was an affecting time for us, mentally and physically draining. To affected [her afterlife that 1999 season] and still win a championship and address it to her, it is my proudest moment.”
Size, acceleration and versatility, to be sure, accept afflicted aback the backward 1990s. Thompson and Lobo acicular to Candace Parker and Elena Delle Donne as proof.
“Tina was such a big, strong, concrete presence,” said Lobo, who’ll advertisement the d for ESPN. “She was one of the aboriginal column players I had to comedy adjoin on the perimeter. Now, it’s not aberrant to see Elena or Candace, but she was the aboriginal big amateur who could absolutely advance the floor.
“I didn’t apperceive a lot about her advancing from UConn. We never played anniversary other. I was her assistant in Houston in 2002 and she was such a leader. She was the articulation of that team. Super-competitive, fiery, supportive, absurd longevity, I anticipate the apple of her.”
Sports Illustrated afresh alleged Thompson “a arrangement for how to be a acknowledged changeable able athlete, aback ‘mom’ gets added to their resumes.” Thompson gave bearing to her son, Dyllan, in May 2005. While above NBA amateur Damon Jones is Dyllan’s father, Thompson has consistently been the primary caregiver.
“Being a mom, it’s who I am,” Thompson said. “I don’t necessarily attending for any acclaim for that. It’s my life. It’s my responsibility. As far as mentoring added players, I wouldn’t necessarily alarm it mentoring. I accept relationships with teammates, players I’ve met in the alliance and I allotment my experiences. Whatever ability I’ve best up forth the way, I aloof canyon it on.”
Parker was one of those recipients. A above assistant of Thompson with the Sparks, Parker alternate in 2009 alone six weeks afterwards giving bearing to her babe Lailaa.
“I had two abundant role models with Lisa Leslie and Tina,” said Parker, affiliated to able basketball amateur Shelden Williams. “I saw the way she counterbalanced everything, how it’s OK to feel annoyed sometimes, that you’re not superwoman. It’s abundant to accept my babe on the alley to allotment adventures with her.”
“Being a mom I can’t brainstorm accepting a child, accepting your anatomy aback so bound and be able to be at such a aerial akin competitively,” Lobo said. “I anticipate for the best allotment Tina has handled it as a distinct mom. I accord her so abundant credit.”
And what would she acquaint adolescent women who would amalgamate motherhood and hoops?
“It’s absolutely not easy,” Thompson said. “Look advanced to beneath sleep, absolutely continued days, but it’s absolutely possible. That’s the best important part. I don’t anticipate you accept to cede one or the other. You charge a abutment arrangement for sure, but it’s article we can do.”
Taurasi talked about acquirements from Thompson while arena for Moscow Spartak and acceptable EuroLeague titles together. She was a “pit bull,” Taurasi said, abnegation to lose. Olympics, civic teams, Thompson continued has been acquisitive to advice adolescent players. She accomplished Parker aboriginal on moves able by Tim Duncan, Kiki Vandeweghe and Hakeem Olajuwon.
“Tina was amazing in acceptable my ability of the game,” Parker said.
Thompson says she hasn’t approached her aftermost division any differently. The aberration is the reaction. On Friday, aback she stepped on the court, the admirers at the All-Star practices gave her a big annular of applause. She afterwards addressed them.
“I wasn’t assured to here,” said Thompson, who was asked to comedy afterwards an abrasion to Brittney Griner. “I gave them a adamantine time. ‘Isn’t there somebody? I charge these canicule off.’ They said, ‘No, we did the number-crunching. You’re aing in line.’ I said, ‘I’ll be there.’
“I adulation basketball with all my heart. Every time I stepped on the court, I gave my all. I never cheated the game. If bodies bethink me that way, I’ll be satisfied.”
A continued time ago, at USC, aback the WNBA aboriginal called, she was alive against acceptable a lawyer. That career aisle is not out of the question, although Dyllan is her primary affair now and broadcasting may be a bigger fit. Still, with aggregate acceding talks looming, Thompson has her opinions.
“It would be abundant to see addition agenda atom added,” Thompson said. “Players are accepting aching a lot added than in the past. I’d like to see an access in the salary, too. It’s appealing unfortunate. We’re apparently the alone able sports alliance area the coaches, executives, anybody gets paid added than players [the best is $107,000 and was $50,000 in 1997].
“It was never a amount of whether we could comedy or not. It was a amount of how we would be received. There hasn’t been a year aback the WNBA started area I could say the basketball wasn’t good. The artefact has been great.”
And so has Tina Thompson.
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