RON HOWARD: Good afternoon, and once again welcome to the 2007 WNBA Finals and today's press conference. With us today we have WNBA President Donna Orender and Chicago Sky, rookie Armintie Price. We'll begin the press conference with remarks from Donna. We'll make a presentation and we'll have a photo opportunity at that point. Followed by that we will have Armintie Price making remarks and open the floor to questions. Now welcome, Donna Orender.
DONNA ORENDER: Good afternoon everyone. Glad to be back with you today. As you know, as I said the other day, it remains a real highlight of this part of our season because we get to really recognize tremendous performances. You'll hear me say again and then throughout the series is that what we really feel is leading the way for the WNBA our growing popularity is the level of our talent. And as you can see by our ALL Rookie Team this year and our Rookie of the Year the talent continues to get better and better.
Let me first introduce, if I could, the 2007 WNBA All Rookie Team. From the Chicago Sky, Armintie Price. Who happened to also go to Ole Miss. She was telling me I had to know that. I said, "I know that." From the Los Angeles Sparks, University of Tennessee graduate Sidney Spencer from the Minnesota Lynx and Duke standout Lindsey Harding. From the San Antonio Silver Stars, University of North Carolina, Camille Little. And from the Los Angeles Sparks, a most surprising of players because she wasn't on many of our radar screens, but I enjoyed watching her play immensely, from Spain, Marta Fernandez.
It's now my honor obviously to introduce the best of this year's rookie class. And this part I'll have to read because there's all these great things that you did and I did not commit them to memory, although I will tell you, as you know, I got to watch you play several times this year and I've enjoyed every minute watching your extremely wonderful and exciting talent.
She was the third pick overall in the 2007 draft. She started all 34 games for the Sky. And she truly was an integral part of a team that greatly improved over the last season.
Armintie Price finished among the rookie leaders in scoring, assists per game, and though she plays guard, if anyone's seen her leap, you wouldn't be surprised to know that she averaged over six rebounds per game.
She's a player who truly embodies what's best about our league. She's an unselfish teammate, a young player who is bursting with talent, and someone whose drive and enthusiasm and passion for the game is absolutely contagious.
There's no doubt in our mind that she's on her way to a great career in our league and from the moment I first met her, I can tell you I was captured by her presence and her absolute love and desire to make the WNBA the best league there is to play in in the entire world. It truly is a pleasure for all of us at the WNBA to recognize Armintie Price and present her with the 2007 WNBA Rookie of the Year award. (Applause.)
ARMINTIE PRICE: First of all, I would like to say thank you everybody who voted, my teammates. I would like to first of all thank God for all the things he's done for me this year. Just being drafted and being among these wonderful great players I had to make sure they didn't make a mistake when they called me. So I'm very grateful and I know this award could have went to a lot of other players, but it was chosen to be me and I'm very grateful and I thank God for this wonderful opportunity to be standing amongst these people and representing the WNBA and the rookies.
Q. Could you talk about the transition from college to the WNBA and what it will take for the next step for you guys to make the playoffs?
ARMINTIE PRICE: Well the transition it was a great transition for me. Something that I was expecting to be kind of nervous and scared just playing all stars every night. Everybody I played and guarded was somebody that I watched on TV.
The Sky did a great job of winning more than five games. I remember telling someone I just want to win six. I just want to do better. But as we started practicing and seeing the talent that we had, we knew that we was capable of making it to the playoffs. We played hard and gave all we had and we won more than people thought and we just stick together and we was in a close run to make the playoffs.
Our team next year in order to make it I believe we have to do the same thing we did but do it much better. Just have a competitive mind spirit and just come together and win.
Q. Can you talk about just this year what it's meant to you. The run that Ole Miss made, that recognition that you got and then this really in the last maybe say year, your life has changed a lot, I would say.
ARMINTIE PRICE: Well I guess I can say it's been unbelievable. God has been so great for me that I can't explain. When I lost my mother last year I thought it was over, but this year he shined upon me and has given me so many other things. Me being drafted third pick. When I was making sure that it was me they was calling and they were right. And then our team having such a wonderful year and then me being the Rookie of the Year, it's amazing. I can't explain the things that he has done. I remember telling my sister and she was like, "Do you understand you're a superstar?" I was like, "Am I really?" And I just I'm so grateful this. It is a dream that so many people want so many people pray for this thing and God happened to bring it to me. And I'm just grateful.
Q. Could you also just talk about the young foundation in Chicago. Obviously you and Candice and some other players, coming close to a playoff berth this year, just with young players and building the foundation.
ARMINTIE PRICE: Well it wasn't hard. Candice Dupree, Stacey Dales, Dominique Canty, Chasity Melvin, they did a good job with making sure we had our handle straight. It wasn't even about the games we won last year. We didn't talk about that much, but it was just about this year. Chasity would say all the time, "Armintie we have the talent, all we got to do is get out there and play." So many games I would get down and be upset because I didn't make this pass and Stacey would be like, "Let it go. We got to play San Antonio Silver Stars tomorrow and we got to do this. And all you got to do is keep your head up." They would tell me when the season started they would say, "We're going to get you Rookie of the Year." And I was like, "Don't talk about it. I just want us to make the playoffs." And she was like, "Well, you got to focus, this is the life you have. Once we don't make it to playoffs you got to think about this and think about this." And I'm just so grateful to be amongst great players like that. I was telling somebody else, since we were so new, they didn't really have time to pick on me. I didn't really get the rookie jokes. They didn't do anything in my sleep to my hair, that was the most important thing I was worried about. They just really took me and we went.
Every game they was patting me on the back and making sure that everything was okay. Making sure I was carrying their bags, of course, and getting them food, but other than that it was a great feeling and I wouldn't pick another team for the world.
Q. How do you like playing in Chicago? How are the fans there?
ARMINTIE PRICE: I love it. They're very respectable. They call me Sugar. They think I'm the sweetest person in the world and everything like that. So but they're really nice. They know what winning is. It's a great feeling because last season they won five games. The team. And to see our team grow and be just seeing the fans eyes they were so excited and they was like, "We're winning." I was like, "Yeah, we're winning." So, you know, everybody was kind of new but it was like a family there. Everybody was like, "We're going to go get them tomorrow, we're going to be there and we're going to watch the game, listen to it on radio." And everywhere you went, it was like a family. The fans were awesome.
Q. Candice was telling me something, Bo Overton is a southern boy she can't understand some of the phrases he comes up with sometimes but I figure you probably understood him a lot better. Can you talk about your relationship with him and it was a first year coach and a first year player, or first year he was with the Chicago. Just your relationship and how you guys grew together.
ARMINTIE PRICE: Well he was a wonderful person. The first thing he told me when I met him he said, "When was the last time you got your butt kicked?" And I said, "Do you mean by a donkey or do you mean by a person?" He said, "No." Every day when he would see me, he would ask me that so the last couple of games I went up to him and I grabbed him and said, "When's the last time you got your butt kicked?" He said, "I think I'm going to get it kicked right now." But he was just a spirited person.
After every game we played he would say, "Okay, this, it's done." He would say, like AP, they called me AP, like, we got to move on, you missed that layup, you aired your free throw, of course, but he said you got to let it go. And he was so, I don't know if Candice Dupree, she just, she was so smooth and calm, she was just looking in the air all the time, she probably didn't think nothing of what he said or anything, but every time he said something they were resaid in the huddle or rebring it up and we would know once the game started, he wouldn't have to ask us anything. He would be like, "AP you ready to play?" And I would be like, "I think so. Did I miss anything?" Because he would always ask me. But he was a great coach, I would love to play for him again and I'm excited to see him when I get back to Chicago.
Q. What do you expect to see in the WNBA Finals and how badly do you want to get on this big stage one day and play in it?
ARMINTIE PRICE: What do I expect to see in this year? I expect somebody to win. This is going to be exciting game. Detroit/Phoenix, I wish I was there. Two teams that I love. I love their style of play. I know it's going to be competitive. I know it's going to be some clawing eyes out. They actually clawed out Chasity's, but this is great league. You can't expect anything but best. The WNBA does a great job of bringing in the best players, players that bringing their self in with a professional mindset and a competitive attitude. So hopefully next year we can be right in this mix and I won't be up here standing I'll be getting ready to warm up. So I'm really expecting us to be here next year.
RON HOWARD: Thank you very much. We will conclude with Armintie and Donna with another photo opportunity briefly and then if you would remain seated, please.