Inside the minds of WNBA players and legends

This is Our Game: Teresa Weatherspoon

Teresa Weatherspoon was a four-time All-WNBA honoree.
Nathaniel S. Butler /NBAE/Getty Images
Ask any casual sports fan to name five women's basketball players and Teresa Weatherspoon will, no doubt, be one of the five they mention. In seven seasons with the New York Liberty, "Spoon" was the face of the franchise. She was also a U.S. Olympian in 1988 and 1992 and is one of the true legends of the game. As a WNBA star, she was the first Defensive Player of the Year in 1997 and finished second in career assists with 1,338 and third in steals with 465 career swipes in 254 games. She was named to the All-WNBA Second Team every season from 1997-2000 and has not slowed down since leaving the game after the 2004 season. Most recently, she has been in the Gulf region devoting her time to helping the area re-build after the Hurricane Katrina disaster. So what made one of the toughest competitors ever also one of the most respected by her teammates and the opposition as well as one of the players most beloved by fans?

Q. What was your motivation when those doubts crept into your head and you didn't feel like working out, running that extra mile or waking up early?
"What really motivates me is knowing that someone else is working that hard. I know that someone else is trying to reach the plateau that I want to stand on. I am motivated to always be better, so I have to get up, I have to get out of bed, I have to keep moving and I have to work harder because I want to be a positive role model in young people's lives. Even when it's a tough day, I have to keep climbing and striving. They never say a mountain is smooth. It's rocky, and there will always be rocky times on the way to the top."

Q. Was there a time in your life of playing basketball when you thought about giving up the game?
"Never. I've loved this game since I was a baby. It has given me an opportunity to express myself and the league has enabled me to show my love and appreciation for the support that I have been given. It has enabled me to become a role model for young kids. Regardless of what you say or how you say it, as an athlete in the public eye, there is always someone who wants to be just like you. In their eyes, you were a role model."

Q. So now that you've had some time to reflect on things, what are some of your favorite basketball memories?
"I have so many memories from when I played the game back when I was young. Nobody ever picked me. I was the only girl playing with the guys. I was smaller than they were shooting the ball from my hip, willing it from way out to make the basket. My brothers always kept me out to protect me, until one day they noticed that I could play. Then they started picking me. That was cool for me, when my brothers accepted me not as my little sister, but as a basketball player, another athlete on their team"

Q. What else drives you? What other goals you've set for yourselves off the court or are you currently pursuing?
"It can be difficult for an athlete beginning to think about that transition to what life will be like after they are done playing the game. It's hard because you want to stay close to the game. For me, it has never been hard to wonder what I'll do afterwards. I want to stay close to our young people in some shape, form or fashion. To lead, guide, direct, motivate, stimulate, direct or whatever you want to call it. That's what I want to do and that is what really drives me now is. Having the opportunity to help create educational software for children, even in the basketball realm, it has been great and tremendous."