National Basketball Retired Players Association Announces Inaugural Class of Former WNBA Players
UNCASVILLE, CONN., Aug, 6, 2013 – The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA), the only alumni association directly supported by both the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), recently announced a historic vote by its board of directors to welcome in former WNBA players as members. With 600+ former NBA, ABA and Harlem Globetrotters amongst its membership, today at Mohegan Sun Arena the NBRPA is pleased to announce its inaugural class of former WNBA players as members: Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, Nikki McCray, Carla McGhee, Dawn Staley, Sheryl Swoopes, Penny Toler and Teresa Weatherspoon.
A charter member of the WNBA, Cooper-Dyke helped lead the Houston Comets to WNBA Championships in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000, and was named WNBA Finals MVP in each of those four championship runs. Cooper-Dyke was named WNBA MVP twice in her career and is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Additionally, Cooper-Dyke was voted to the WNBA’s All-Decade Team in 2006, and in 2011 was named one of the Top 15 players in WNBA league history. Today she is head women’s basketball coach for the University of Southern California.
A lockdown defender in her 8-year WNBA career, McCray was a 3-time WNBA All-Star. Known for community service off-the-court, the former University of Tennessee standout was hand-picked by President Bill Clinton to be made a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 2000. Today she is an assistant women’s basketball coach for the University of South Carolina.
McGhee played for the WNBA’s Orlando Miracle from 1999 to 2002. McGhee was a standout at the University of Tennessee, where she played on two NCAA Championship teams, and also won a Gold Medal with the United States Olympic team in 1996. Today she is an assistant women’s basketball coach with the University of South Carolina.
Staley played in the WNBA from 1999-2006 and was a 6-time WNBA All-Star. Staley was also a 3-time Olympian and was selected to carry the United States flag at the opening ceremonies for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. In 2006, Staley was voted to the WNBA’s All-Decade Team, and in 2011 was named one of the Top 15 players in WNBA league history. Today Staley is the head women’s basketball coach at the University of South Carolina.
A charter member of the WNBA, Swoopes helped lead the Houston Comets to the league’s first championship in 1997 and won subsequent WNBA Championships with Houston in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Swoopes was named WNBA MVP three times in her career, won WNBA Defensive Players of the Year three times and twice led the league in scoring. In 2006, Swoopes was voted to the WNBA’s All-Decade Team, and in 2011 was named one of the Top 15 players in WNBA league history. Today she is head women’s basketball coach for Loyola University in Chicago.
A charter member of the WNBA, Toler was a standout point guard for the Los Angeles Sparks from 1997-1999. She was the very first player to score a basket in a WNBA game, when she knocked down a jumper on June 21, 1997. Toler also made the league’s first free throw. Today she is President & General Manager of the Sparks and has led the franchise to two WNBA Championships.
A charter member of the WNBA, Weatherspoon debuted with the New York Liberty in the league’s inaugural season of 1997 en route to a 4-time WNBA All-Star career. Additionally, Weatherspoon was also named as one of the Top 15 Players in WNBA league history. Today she is the head women’s basketball coach at her alma mater, Louisiana Tech.
“Thank you to the National Basketball Retired Players Association for embracing former WNBA players,” said Weatherspoon, who was the first former WNBA player to sign on as an NBRPA Member. “"It's a no-brainer to be a part of it and get back into the atmosphere, the love circle of the game of basketball. At this point you don't feel like, 'Oh, I played in the WNBA, you're NBA, you're Harlem Globetrotters, you're ABA,' what you feel like is a family, a basketball family."
Otis Birdsong, a former NBA All-Star and Chairman of the Board for the NBRPA, said adding Cooper-Dyke, McCray, McGhee, Staley, Swoopes, Toler and Weatherspoon as the first class of WNBA Legends of Basketball falls perfectly in line with the make-up and goals of the NBRPA.
“As a long-time NBRPA Member it is my pleasure to welcome Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, Nikki McCray, Carla McGhee, Dawn Staley, Sheryl Swoopes, Penny Toler and Teresa Weatherspoon in to the Legends of Basketball family,” Birdsong said. “With world class basketball legacies, successful careers after playing and dedication to give back and serve the community, these ladies embody the traits we seek from NBRPA Members. We are excited to build our membership with additional former WNBA players.”
The NBRPA’s new partnership with the WNBA falls perfectly in line with the alumni association’s longtime affiliation with both the NBA and National Basketball Players Association.
“For more than two decades the NBA and NBPA have been our partners and we’re very pleased to welcome the WNBA into the NBRPA family,” said NBRPA President & CEO Arnie D. Fielkow. “There’s no doubt that the addition of these new members will help fulfill our two-pronged mission to assist former players’ transition into life after the game and positively impact communities and youth through basketball.”
The NBRPA made Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Lynette Woodard its first female member in February of 2013. Woodard was eligible for membership as a former Harlem Globetrotters player.
About the National Basketball Retired Players Association
The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, Harlem Globetrotters and WNBA. It is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization with a two-pronged mission to assist former NBA, ABA, Harlem Globetrotters and WNBA players in their transition from the playing court into life after the game, while also positively impacting communities and youth through basketball. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Arnie D. Fielkow is the President & CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Otis Birdsong, Vice Chairman Thurl Bailey, Treasurer Marvin Roberts, Secretary Steve Hayes, Past Chairman Robert A. (Bob) Elliott, Past Chairman Dr. George W. Tinsley Sr., Rick Barry, Harvey Catchings, Spencer Haywood, LaRue Martin and Johnny Newman.