Temeka Johnson earns 2005 honor
Rookie of the Year Presentation
Welcome everyone to the 2005 WNBA Finals here at the Mohegan Sun Arena and a special welcome to those of you watching at home on NBA TV. I'm Andre Aldridge. The WNBA's historic ninth season has been filled with great excitement, celebrations and professional accomplishments and this evening is no different.
At this time I would like to welcome WNBA President, Donna Orender to the podium for this very special presentation.
DONNA ORENDER: Good evening, everyone, how are you tonight?
I am really thrilled to be here tonight, to recognize the rookies of the WNBA and I'm sure you can understand why, when you understand that, how many months ago, this is Temeka's mom and grandma, Veronica and Jewel, so I'm happy they are here with us tonight.
It wasn't that long ago that I was in a room looking at the 2005 rookie class, and wondering, "Okay, which one of these players were going to emerge and really make an impact?" With the talent that we have in the WNBA and as it grows each and every year we know each and every year they are going to make greater impacts. Being a rookie president of a league I have a great affinity to this class, and it's a class that will be dear to me for a long time.
Let me introduce to you and announce to you the first ever All Rookie Team of the WNBA. They are, from the Detroit Shock, forward Kara Braxton; from the Sacramento Monarchs, on the court warming up, forward Chelsea Newton; at center, I'm sure you all remember that great Cinderella run at the Liberty, Katie Feenstra from the San Antonio Silver Stars; and from the Indiana Fever, guard Tan White.
Last but not least when they talk about big things coming in small packages, at five foot three, she had a huge presence for the Washington Mystics. She started all 34 games, she led all of the rookies in scoring, steals, assists, and minutes played, she ranked second overall in the league in assists and free throw percentage; that's everybody. But, a fourth place finish, what happened there, in the league in field goal percentage, so you have a little something to work on for next year, right Temeka?
She is a proud graduate of LSU, and Hall of Fame and late Coach Sue Gunter, Pokey Chapman, which is with a great deal of honor that we present the 2005 WNBA Rookie of the Year award to Temeka Johnson. (Applause).
TEMEKA JOHNSON: First, thank you, to the president and she forgot to mention that she's on the rookie team, as well, because like she said, she is her first year here and she's doing great things with the league.
I have to open up first by saying thank God for everything because without Him, none of this would be possible and He's doing tremendous things in my life and I know as long as I stay on this path, He will allow me to grow.
I also want to thank people who donated everything to help out the city of New Orleans and I'm grateful for that and say thank you and for my family.
This award is a great honor but I was surrounded by a lot of people on the Washington team and the whole organization that helped me to attain this accomplishment. It's great. It's an honor. I'm thankful, I'm blessed, I'm nervous, I'm happy, all everything above, I just want to thank everyone who voted for me, the fans, everybody behind everything, I'm so appreciative of it all, and thank you. (Applause).
ANDRE ALDRIDGE: Before we open it up for questions, I have a couple for you, Temeka. First of all, what a run it's been from the Final Four to the WNBA Draft to your first WNBA season and now this award tonight, so what's on your agenda next?
TEMEKA JOHNSON: It's hard to say. I'm just going to take it as it comes, just like I do, coming into the league, just take things as they come to me and hopefully I'll be able to keep rising to the challenges.
ANDRE ALDRIDGE: And something we talked about a few moments ago, the fact that you feel so blessed right now, born in New Orleans, and we all are very much aware of the devastation and everything that's going on down there, but first of all, tell us how your family is.
TEMEKA JOHNSON: My family's fine, thank God for that. That's the blessing. They are not replaceable, so I'm glad that they are okay.
The house may need a little bit of remodeling, but, hey, it's material things. And the one thing that my family did was probably like I guess the smartest thing, they decided to leave my car at home and it's under water. So it's okay. (Laughter). But my family is fine. They are great, thanks for asking.
ANDRE ALDRIDGE: Washington Mystics owner Sheila Johnson has made a $500,000 contribution on behalf of her team and the WNBA toward the Red Cross and the relief efforts down there.
At five foot three, a lot of people would say, how can you make it in a pro league, did you ever feel that your height was an obstacle or did it just make you more determined?
TEMEKA JOHNSON: It made me more determined. For me, my height was never a problem until I got to college, and everybody would always say I'm too small to do anything. But I do have to take thank Coach Gunter, who I know is smiling down on me, as well as Pokey Chapman for giving me this opportunity and giving a chance on a small guard and helping me take my game as far as I can go at the college level, and they are still behind me as I'm in the WNBA right now.
You join a group that includes another Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi, they all talk about the difference from going to the college game to the pro game and the adjustments they had to make and how difficult it is to achieve an honor like this, what do you think helped you in that transition?
TEMEKA JOHNSON: First, thank you. I would have to say just me being patient and being humble, observing everything and taking everything lesson that everyone has given me. I'm learning from everybody that I'm surrounded by. I'm surrounded by a lot of veterans, Richie Adubato, who is the head coach, been in the WNBA and NBA, and Alana Beard on my side, second year in the league. So I basically took every piece of advice that I could get and tried to add it to me and was blessed with the award.
Who is here with you?
TEMEKA JOHNSON: My grandma, Jewel Johnson, and my mother, Veronica Johnson.
ANDRE ALDRIDGE: We want to thank you all for coming out, and how about a hand for the 2005 WNBA Rookie of the Year, Temeka Johnson from the Washington Mystics. Congratulations. (Applause).