My First All-Star Experience

UNCASVILLE, CT, July 25, 2009 -- There are eight players here in Connecticut set to take part in a WNBA All-Star Game for the first time in their careers: Nicky Anosike, Shameka Christon, Erika de Souza, Sylvia Fowles, Charde Houston, Sancho Lyttle, Jia Perkins and Nicole Powell. Most will likely be back, but some might not. Either way, what transpires this weekend will likely stick with them forever.

Of course, since there are eight first-time All-Stars here this weekend, that means there are 14 who have been through this whirlwind before (15 if you include Lisa Leslie, who will not play because of her injured knee). So to get a better sense of what the All-Star newbies might be going through, we thought it would be fun to ask the veteran All-Stars what memories they have from their first ever All-Star experience.

Sue Bird, Seattle Storm
�It was a long time ago. It was my rookie year. All the other players had been in All-Star Games before and it was my first, so I remember feeling anxious and nervous about it. Everyone knew each other. But I also had Lauren (Jackson), who was my teammate, so that was good. She kind of helped me through it. Once you get out there and you�re around everybody nature just takes its course.�

Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
�Oh, I was so nervous. Oh my God. I was so, so nervous. You know what, for three or four years I was really, really nervous and that lasted until people my age started coming in and then I started feeling comfortable. But, yeah, I remember exactly how I felt and I was so scared. I was a little kid.�

Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars
�My first All-Star experience I actually wasn�t in the game, but I was at the first WNBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden in 1999. It was my first year. I was in attendance watching. Whitney Houston sang and it was a packed Garden. It was quite the setting. So that�s actually my first memory of All-Star, the original one. It was cool. I was there cheering on (Teresa Weatherspoon) and I think Kym Hampton was there. I know I had a couple teammates on there. But Spoon was The Woman. I remember just cheering her on.

�And then my first actual time being on the All-Star team I was actually injured. I got put on there by the coaches the year I blew out my ACL. That was a tremendous honor. I remember feeling incredibly humbled and honored that even though they knew I wasn�t going to be able to play they still selected me. That was pretty cool.�

Asjha Jones, Connecticut Sun
�My first time was in D.C. a couple years ago. I was nervous. I was really nervous. I had never played with these guys before, only against them. It was really cool to get to see everyone�s different personalities.�

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
�My first time was here (in Connecticut). It�s something you have to go through. You get really excited and you don�t know what to expect. You�ll be nervous and then once the game starts, you just calm down a little bit.�

Alana Beard, Washington Mystics
�It was here. It was Connecticut. I remember getting in the game, driving in and getting blocked by Lisa Leslie and I don�t think I shot anymore the entire game. I was just happy to be out there. To say I was a bit overwhelmed would be an understatement. But it was fun and it was where I got my feet wet. But it�s easy now. It feels natural now.�

Sophia Young, San Antonio Silver Stars
"I know for my first year, it was very nerve-wracking for me, I was like �Oh my gosh I�m part of one of the top players in the league.� I was kind of anxious my first time. Now I can just relax.

"My favorite memory was during the three-point challenge and Yolanda Griffith, Cappie (Pondexter) and Seimone (Augustus) and a bunch of us were in the locker room and we were trying to bet on who was going to win. I actually won and Yolanda actually paid up. You always think people are going to pay but you never really believe, but she paid so that was great. So that was my memory out of everything."

Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
"I remember my first All-Star and you look at the players that I was with: Sheryl (Swoopes), Lisa (Leslie) and Dawn (Staley). I remember looking up to those players and now it�s like we�re those players to the young guns coming up."

Candice Dupree, Chicago Sky
"My first All-Star Game was in New York. I was just trying to get used to everything. It was all so new to me, being around all of these superstars like Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, my college coach Dawn Staley. Just seeing all of these people on the court at the same time I was just trying to soak it all up and learn from the best.

"As we were going out to the practice court and Jia (Perkins) was like, �I�m nervous Candice.� But I was the same way my first All-Star. You don�t want to mess up in front of the fans and stuff like that."

Katie Smith, Detroit Shock
"My first one, I think it was in New York. I just remember all the fans, the hoopla, the little extra stuff, the appearances, the introductions and all of that stuff. It�s just a neat event. They treat you well and it�s a special time. It�s also fun getting together with your peers and your friends and playing together."

Tina Thompson, Los Angeles Sparks
"Honestly, I don�t even remember. But you know it was the first time for everybody. It wasn�t like there was a first All-Star Game, and then I made the second one as my first. It was kind of like the first time for everybody, so that was the experience for me. It was a new experience for everyone at that point so I don�t know if it was very different from anyone else�s."