U.S. captains Leslie, Staley, Swoopes talk about future after gold medal win
ATHENS (Aug. 28, 2004) --
It's the question that always follows a title.
The question is particularly relevant for women's basketball greats Lisa Leslie, Dawn Staley and Sheryl Swoopes, as the three U.S. captains are all in their 30's -- Leslie is 32, Staley is 34 and Swoopes is 33.
After her third gold medal, Staley won't be playing in the next Olympics.
(Garrett W. Ellwood
So, following their hard-fought 74-63 win over Australia on Saturday, they were all posed the question. Will they return to the Olympic stage? Will they wear the red, white and blue again?
Staley was the only one who had a firm answer.
"I'm done with the Olympics as a player," said Staley after the game. "I don't know about these two."
Leslie and Swoopes were non-committal and didn't directly address their plans for 2008. In fact, Swoopes was even reluctant to discuss her plans for the evening.
"We're going to celebrate tonight the best way we know how," said Swoopes. "I'm not going to give you too much information; you might want to hang out with us."
And while Leslie might not have said she definitely wasn't playing in the Beijing Games, she did admit it'd be difficult to go back out there without the two players she's shared the international stage with for so many years.
"I feel I'm young enough, and that I haven't peaked as a player," said Leslie. "But it's hard for me to think about suiting up without Dawn and Sheryl. When there was a question as to whether Sheryl would play due to her knee problems, I literally ran over and hugged her when I saw her at the airport. I just told myself that everything was definitely going to be alright with her there."
It's a safe bet that Leslie feels the same level of confidence when she's sharing the floor with Staley. The two have been together since they were hoops infants, evidently.
"[My run with Lisa] has been over a 16-year path," said Staley. "In fact, it was so long ago, I used to change Lisa's diapers. But what's most impressive to me about this journey is how much we've grown on and off the floor. Now, I can talk to Lisa any kind of way. Sometimes I don't say things that are entirely appropriate, but that's where we are as teammates."
If the trio does decide to retire from the international game, they'll be doing so as winners of the highest caliber, as they have won nine gold medals between the three of them. And while Staley did allow for the possibility she'll add to her gold medal collection, she said it wouldn't be as a player.
"I do have aspirations of coaching the Olympic team one day," said Staley. "Who wouldn't want to coach the best players in the world? I want to feel what Coach Chancellor's feeling right now."
Thanks in no small part to Leslie, Staley and Swoopes, it's a safe bet that Chancellor's feeling pretty great right about now.