Inside the minds of WNBA players

This is Our Game: Yolanda Griffith

Sacramento's Yolanda Griffith
J. Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images
An immediate superstar upon entering the league six seasons ago, Sacramento Monarchs center Yolanda Griffith won the 1999 WNBA M.V.P. Award and has kept it up ever since. She was just voted to start in the 2005 WNBA All-Star Game and is an M.V.P. candidate once again. But it wasn't always easy for Yolanda, who was guided down a different path in life when she became pregnant early on in her college career. Now, with only a few years left in her basketball career, she is beginning to look ahead and think about her long-term future.

Q. What is your motivation when don't feel like working out, running that extra mile, or waking up early?
"It has been a struggle to get up early in the morning, but I get up early to take my daughter, Candace, to school, so that's not a bad thing. But when you just don't want to get up or do your job, you know it won't get easier. You have to work hard to get better, so there are moments, and there have been those moments recently, when you don't feel like doing it, then I say, the harder I work, the better I'm going to get. The harder I work, it will be easier to get to the championship. That's what motivates me. I want something out of this before I retire. I want to be able to work hard to improve myself as an individual, both mentally and physically. Also, bring something to the table for the young players. Once you get started, start running, touch a ball or get moving, it motivates you itself to keep going. We have a lot of younger players on our team, they look at you as a role model even though you are playing with them. So if you work hard and get better, it will motivate the youngsters to do the same. Always tell them never to settle. Nothing is ever given to you in life. Work hard for it, then maybe it will get easier. If you get things in life easy, you haven't been challenged."

Q. Was there a time in your life when you thought about giving up the game?
"I've thought about it a lot of times, but I keep going because I know I'm not a quitter. I want something out of this - a championship. I want people to remember me as a person who always gave 150%. I do it for the young girls growing up who want to be like us."

Q. What are some other goals you've set for yourselves off the court that you are interested in or pursuing?
"A little while ago, I wanted to open up my own sports bar in Sacramento and open up a chain, but there are so many of those around. So I've backed off of that. Now I'm really into real estate with some of my teammates. I invest in a lot of things because I won't be playing forever. I'm 35, so it's best that I invest wisely and continue to make money. Thinking about the future. I would also want to pursue coaching. I know this game pretty well and want to be able to help on a different level."