Tina Thompson smiles during her postgame interview with Dick Fain on 1090 AM. (Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images)

Thompson Makes History by Reaching Milestone

Kevin Pelton, StormBasketball.com | Sept. 19, 2012

The basket was just like any of hundreds of others Tina Thompson has made in her WNBA career. And that's sort of the point. A short jumper from just outside the paint off a Tanisha Wright feed with 9:03 left in the second quarter of Tuesday's 75-60 win over the Chicago Sky at KeyArena made Thompson the first player in WNBA history to reach 7,000 career points.

While the Storm crowd quickly erupted in applause, it took a second for Thompson to register the moment. She was focused on the action and the condition of Wright, who was accidentally hit in the face while setting up the pass. The Storm intentionally fouled to attend to Wright, which served to stop the game and allowed PA announcer Matt Pitman to acknowledge Thompson's accomplishment to anyone who might have missed it.

"I wasn't paying attention," Thompson related to reporters after the game. "I was talking to (Tanisha) and Katie (Smith) came over and said, 'That's for you.' That's when I waived, afterward."

Tina Thompson became the first WNBA player to score 7,000 career points.
Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images

Thompson reached the 7,000-point mark early in the second quarter Tuesday.

The understated response was in keeping with Thompson's philosophy, which favors team success over individual accomplishments or accolades.

"Winning is first and foremost for me," she said. "That's just how I've been my entire career. I think these things are great and it's something that I will probably relish or enjoy after my career, but for me winning is always first, so of course getting a win makes it sweeter.

"The good thing was that I didn't know about it until today. Before it was like, 'When are you going to do it?' That was definitely a difference. There wasn't much fanfare or hoopla behind it. For me that was good."

Smith can understand that sentiment. As the all-time leading scorer in American women's professional basketball history because of her time in the ABL, Smith is the only other player who can claim to have scored more than 7,000 career points in the U.S. as a pro.

"Honestly, our mindsets, we're pretty similar," said Smith. "You just go out there and play. A lot of the success that we've had is because you want to be the best you can be and these things came along with it. I'm sure she'll be like, 'Hey, it's just another number' - which it is - but it also tells you that she's been consistently doing things and playing well and putting up points for a long time. At the end of the day, when we're achy and limping around in about 20 years, we might talk mess."

As a result, it was left to Thompson's teammates to explain the significance of the milestone.

"It just speaks to her longevity, her competitiveness, her consistency over the years," said Smith. "To be able to be in this league and continually do the things that she's always done is a tribute to her."

"It's very impressive," added Bird, who reached 4,000 career points last season. "It speaks to her ability to score, her longevity and her consistency. You can't overlook those things. There are going to be a lot of players that come into this league, but only a few that have those qualities. She's one of them and I'm happy for her. Not everybody can play that long and still be effective the way she is. That's a whole other ball game to stay effective. That's difficult to do and she's been able to do that."

Storm Head Coach Brian Agler has a unique perspective on Thompson's accomplishment. In addition to coaching three of the four all-time leading WNBA scorers on the current Storm roster (Thompson, Smith and Lauren Jackson, who is eight points away from becoming the fourth player in league history to reach 6,000 career points), Agler has coached a total of five of the seven top scorers in league history as either a head coach or an assistant. Thompson has stood out to Agler.

"Having coached against her and now working with her, she's just the true professional," he said. "Comes to work every day, takes care of herself and has one of the nicest touches on the basketball that I've ever been around. She knows how to score. Good teammate. She's a proven winner. When you watch her play, she makes winning basketball plays. She'll go down as one of the all-time greats."

"Having coached against her and now working with her, she's just the true professional. She'll go down as one of the all-time greats."
- Brian Agler

This is the first time Thompson has been the first WNBA player to a milestone. In the past, her former college and pro teammate Lisa Leslie beat her to 3, 4, 5 and 6,000 career points. Thompson was second to the mark each time. However, Thompson has outlasted Leslie and every other player from the league's inaugural 1997 season. As a result, Thompson is also second in career games played (460, which puts her one behind San Antonio center Tangela Smith) and third in rebounds (2,868) and three-pointers (686). She's also in the top 10 in free throws (fifth) and blocks (ninth).

And Thompson isn't done yet. As she recovers from a left knee sprain suffered before the Olympic Break, Thompson has scored double figures five times in her last eight games. In the month of September, Thompson has shot 56.8 percent from the field and made half of her three-point attempts. In fact, Thompson's 41.9 percent accuracy beyond the arc would be the best of her 16-year career. So there is still history left for Thompson to make.

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