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Where Are They Now? Michelle Greco
Then: Reserve G, 2004 Championship Team
Now: Italian League Champion for Cras Basket Taranto
Stay tuned throughout the 10th Anniversary season as we check in with your favorite Storm players to see what they have been up to since the conclusion of their playing careers. We continue today with Michelle Greco, a reserve for the Storm's 2004 championship team.
Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | July 10, 2009
Michelle Greco's basketball career nearly ended well before she joined the Seattle Storm. Five games into what was supposed to be her senior season at UCLA, Greco was ordered off the court by doctors because of a history of concussions. After sitting out the remainder of the season, Greco was able to return for her fifth season of a stellar career that saw her twice lead the Pac-10 in scoring.
Greco arrived in Seattle in the spring of 2004 looking for a chance to make a WNBA team after going undrafted and being waived by the Cleveland Rockers the previous year. She beat out several competitors for the last spot on the Storm's roster and proved a useful contributor when called upon during the Storm's WNBA championship season, shooting 55.6 percent from the field.
Unable to make the Storm's roster in training camp the following season, Greco has focused on her career overseas. She has spent five seasons in Italy, the last four with Cras Basket Taranto. In May, Greco and Storm center Suzy Batkovic-Brown led Taranto to a Liga Basket Femminile title.
Stormbasketball.com recently chatted with Greco, who was raised and still makes her home in the L.A. area and has supported the Storm at playoff games at the STAPLES Center in the past. She made sure to wish the Storm luck in trying to add another championship this season.
Asking players from the championship team the best memory from their time with the Storm seems pointless. Can you put in words what it meant to win a championship?
Well, for me it was pretty much the highlight of my career. Obviously, winning a WNBA championship is the ultimate as a basketball player, so for me it was the highlight. It was a great experience, being able to play with some of the best women's basketball players in the world. It was a great experience and a dream, pretty much.
What else stands out from your season in Seattle?
Probably just the chemistry of the team. We all had such a great time together. Honestly, when I look back at my season in '04, the championship of course stands out, but the friendships that were made and being Seattle - I've always lived in Los Angeles, so being in the Pacific Northwest was a great time for me to experience another city - and the fans were fabulous, some of the best fans I've ever been around. Altogether as a whole, my experience was unbelievable.
Everyone from the championship team has mentioned that chemistry. Was that one of the reasons you believed you could have so much success as a team?
I think early on there was kind of a special feeling in the atmosphere. Everyone got along so well from the starters to the bench players to the coaching staff to the management. It was really like a family atmosphere, and I think it really translated on the court. You could see that in our results. Altogether, it was an unbelievable time.
Do you keep in touch with many former Storm teammates?
You know, I do. Especially playing overseas; I've been playing in EuroCup and next year I'll be the Euroleague with my Italian team. You see former teammates all the time and it's always fun to reminisce about the '04 season.
What did it mean to you to make the Storm roster and get an opportunity to play in the WNBA for the first time?
Like I said, as a basketball player the ultimate is playing in the WNBA. The best players are in our league. To be able to make the Storm, to be able to win a championship, to me it's being at a level that you want to be at as an athlete. It was definitely special.
What was your relationship like with Storm fans? They seemed to take to you quickly and you remain a favorite.
Oh, that's good to hear. The fans were just great. Everyone was so sweet and so supportive. For me, not getting a whole lot of minutes, it's always nice to still be appreciated on the bench and, when I did get to play, getting applause from the fans. It's something that you don't forget and you appreciate. Probably playing in the Pac-10, being at UCLA and playing at Washington, I'm sure those fans remembered me. As a Bruin, they probably weren't cheering for me, but playing for Seattle they definitely gave me a warm welcome. That was something that, like I said, I definitely appreciated.
Something else that was a trademark of that championship team in my mind is the way everyone on the bench was ready to contribute when called upon from top to bottom. Is that accurate?
I think that's what makes a championship team - having bench players who aren't just there sulking. Then when they do get their chance to play, they're ready because they want to play and they're happy for the players who are out there. Being in that position, when you do get that chance, you take advantage of it. It may not come often, but when it does come around, you're ready to contribute. I think our team did such a good job of that.
What have you been up to as far as playing internationally?
I've been playing for Cras Basket Taranto. It's in the south of Italy, and I've just been having a grand old time out there. I have my Italian passport, I'm half-Italian, I have some distant Grecos that are in the south of Italy, so it's been nice trying to reach out to the Grecos who are out there. It's been great - traveling all around the world. We just won a championship last year; we won the Italian championship. Obviously at times I wish I was back in the WNBA, but I've been having a great career out there and I get to come home and refresh my body, refresh my mind throughout the summer and get to spend time with family and friends. As much as I kind of miss being in the WNBA and being able to play in front of my family and friends, it's nice to be able to head out to a different country, experience new cultures and live a different life out there. I've definitely been enjoying it.
When you first came to Seattle, you had yet to play in Italy. Did you have an idea it might be a good fit for you?
I did, kind of. I don't know why. Maybe it's just my Italian heritage, but even when I was in Israel and Greece, I kept thinking to myself, 'Gosh, I wish I could get over to Italy.' My father is Italian. He got his Italian passport, so I then became Italian. It worked out so well being over in Italy. I really couldn't ask for anything better over there. My family comes out to visit all the time. It's been great, and it's kind of turned into my second home over there. I've been playing for the same team for four years now, so it's pretty cool.
What was it like winning an Italian championship?
It kind of not finishes my career with this team but adds to it in a way. The past three years I wanted to get to that championship year and win a championship for my team out there because they've been so great to me. To win the championship put icing on the cake for me in a way.
Now, next year you get to play in the Euroleague?
Yeah, next season we'll be in the Euroleague and obviously playing the cream of the crop out there. Hopefully my team's up for the challenge. I'm sure we will be, but it's definitely going to be a challenge.
One of the reasons we were following Taranto closely this past season was Batkovic-Brown. How was it having her as a teammate?
Yeah, Suzy. It was awesome playing with Suzy this past year. I'm sure you guys probably are aware, but that girl is hilarious. She's a great person and she played extremely well for our team out there and she certainly was a big reason why we won the championship. It was a pleasure playing with her. I'm bummed she's not going to be back with our team next year, but glad I got the chance to play with her for that season.
As you look forward beyond your playing career, what does the future hold?
The future is kind of unknown as of now, but I have a feeling once my playing days are over, I'll probably wind up in coaching. I would love to go back to UCLA and be an assistant coach at UCLA and eventually become a head coach. I've always wanted to do that. Every summer, I always have my own little Michelle Greco Camps. I try to coach club basketball during the summer. It's something that I've always enjoyed doing. I have a feeling that will be in my future, but I don't know. We'll see. You never know what can happen through the years and where life can take you. I'm looking forward to that time when my playing days are over. Right now, I'm enjoying life. I live in Santa Monica. I bought a condo last year. I can't ask for anything better right now.
Summers in Santa Monica and winters in Italy? I think there may be some people who would be jealous.
Yeah. No complaints on my end right now. Living life.