Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes Mailbox Answers
Swoopes joins Atlanta Hawks all-time leading scorer Dominique Wilkins , Hawks guard Jason Terry and "Malcolm in the Middle" star Frankie Muniz to represent Atlanta, while Leslie's Los Angeles team includes Magic Johnson, winner of five NBA championships with the Lakers (1980, '82, '85, '87, '88), Clippers guard Marko Jaric and "That '70s Show" and "Just Married" co-star Ashton Kutcher.
2002 WNBA Finals MVP Lisa Leslie and 2002 WNBA MVP Sheryl Swoopes took time out of their All-Star schedules in Atlanta to answer fan questions from their WNBA.com Hoop-It-Up Mailboxes.
Leslie: Before we used to get so serious about the whole competition thing, and I think that itís just better now, just have fun, go out there and represent the WNBA. I realized that the guys didnít take it as seriously as the women players did over the last few years, so itís a little bit different this time. Iím just kind of like ďOk, Iím here, letís play, letís have fun.Ē
Question: Lisa, what do you think about Shaq not starting in the All-Star game? You went through the same thing in 2001 -- do you think Shaq will get MVP just like you did? (Saedah from Riverside, California)
Leslie: Iím sure he can get MVP off the bench. You know, itís a little bit different, sometimes the guys have different agendas, whereas for us we definitely played a team game and I just happened to shine within that team aspect.
Question: Whatís it like to be part of the NBA All-Star Weekend? (Michelle from Louisville, Kentucky)
Leslie: Itís always a lot of fun. Itís a great honor for us as WNBA players to be added in at any capacity, and luckily they held on to the 3-on-3 competition.
Question: Lisa, what are your goals for the 2003 WNBA season? (Leslie from Jackson, Mississippi)
Leslie: To three-peat, thatís what our next goal is. With all the changes being made already in the WNBA, the competition is definitely going to get tougher, but we have our work cut out for us. This is probably going to be the hardest year in the WNBA just because of the dispersal draft in general, but let's see how it goes.
Swoopes: Itís kind of hard to pick just one because there are so many great players in the league and I end up guarding so many different positions. I would probably have to say, if I could list three: Tamika Catchings from Indiana because sheís so versatile and she can do so many things, just a phenomenal athlete, young, and Iím getting older so the older I get the tougher it is for me to defend people. But the other two I would have to say would be Marie Ferdinand of San Antonio and Mawadi Mabika from the Sparks. Mawadi and Marie remind me so much of each other Ė their style of play. They both can leap out of the gym, they're extremely athletic and theyíre tough to defend because theyíre very quick. They can take you off the dribble. They can pull up for the jump shot. Mawadi has one of the prettiest jump shots in the game today, and sheís great.
Question: What is your favorite event that is shown during All-Star Weekend? (Cicely from Port Royal, South Carolina)
Swoopes: I think my favorite event is probably the slam dunk contest.
Question: How does it feel to be in your seventh season in the WNBA, and how does feel to be apart the NBA All-Star Weekend? (Shayla from Lancaster, California)
Swoopes: Itís exciting, and itís unbelievable maybe. I think the first couple of years when we were playing and we knew that we were actually playing, it was definitely a dream come true, but to actually be here and to be going into our seventh season is amazing. And I think weíve done a lot for the game. Obviously the NBA, WNBA, all the sponsors, everyoneís been a huge part of the success and hopefully weíll only continue to grow bigger.
Question: Sheryl, how does it feel to be playing with Dominique Wilkins and Jason Terry? (I wonder how they feel to have you playing with them?) (Whitney from Tollette, Arkansas)
Swoopes: Iím very excited. Iíve seen Jason Terry play. I think heís an incredible athlete, a fun player to be with, and obviously, everyone knows ĎNique and knows what heís done for the game, so to have an opportunity to not only be on the same court with them but to be on the same team, is an honor for me and Iím looking forward to it.
Question: Sheryl you are one of the greatest basketball players in the world. What are some of the hardest things you go through as a player? (Brittney from Houston, Texas)
Swoopes: The travel schedule is crazy, and I donít think people realize how hard it is sometimes to play a game in Houston, jump on the plane the next morning, fly to Seattle and play there, and you have a back-to-back game. And then we fly commercially so itís not like we have our own private plane so after a game we can go home and rest. Itís just you sleep in a hotel, you get up, you fly to the next city and you play, so thereís not a lot of time to rest in between games and then practices, and because our seasonís so short, you have so many games that you have to fit in there, so many games that youíre playing in a week that it really takes its toll on your body. But for me, besides just playing basketball, itís playing basketball and being a parent, being a single parent, and itís really tough because Iíve got to find time to take time out to be a parent, to be a mom and give my child the attention that he needs. And then also understand that this is my job so Iíve got to find enough time to go and work out and practice and make the commitment to being the best player I can be and at the same time I want to be the best parent I can be too, so itís really tough being a professional athlete and then being a single parent on top of that, but itís exciting and itís a lot of fun and I wouldnít trade it for the world.
Question: Sheryl, what is the thing you are most looking forward to this season? (Nikki from West Covina, California)
Swoopes: Iím just looking forward to coming back and hopefully bringing the championship back to Houston. Itís been gone from Houston for two years now and itís time for us to bring it back home. Iím excited about getting the opportunity to play with some of the younger players coming out of college and now with the dispersal draft, or whatever weíre going to have with a couple of teams folding, I think itís going to be an interesting season. With those two teams folding, I think itís unfortunate, but itís going to make the overall league that much more competitive because youíre going to get a lot of those great players from the other teams.