You asked, they answered.
Here's what the Lisa Leslie, Swin Cash, Nikki Teasley, Cheryl Ford and more had to say in response to your questions as they prepared for Game 1 of the 2003 WNBA Finals in Los Angeles.
What motivates you as a player? It seems as though you continue to get better and keep your focus no matter what.
- Tina (Perry, GA)
Lisa Leslie: "I just think that I have a really, I have a passion for the game. I love playing. I love getting better. What really motivates me is that when I practice something in the offseason and I'm able to do it during the season, I get kind of excited about that. I like learning the game in general.
"I don't think I ever get tired of winning. I'm a very competitive person on and off the court. I'm very competitive with my family when we're playing backgammon, Pictionary, we play a lot of board games. So, I'm just a competitive person.
"When it comes to basketball, I just want to be the best and I work really hard at it in the offseason and always try to improve my game."
What do you think you're going to have to do to stop Leslie from scoring? In the West, they play tough - do you think that's why coach has been working you so hard to play tough on the inside?
- Veronica (Holland, MS)
Ruth Riley: "Lisa's going to get her points either way. She's a great player, she's proven that and she's always stepped up in the playoffs. I have a tough job ahead of me. But it's a five person game and I have a lot of help from my teammates."
Swin Cash, it's a good feeling to go from last to first. It'll even be better to bring home the Championship to the Eastern Conference. What was the feeling like holding the 2003 Eastern Conference Champions banner? And what would it take to beat the Sparks?
- Joe (Brooklyn, NY)
Swin Cash: "It was a phenomenal feeling to make a goal of yours and to accomplish that goal. It's a tremendous feeling not only for me but also for my family who has had to put up with me the last year to get there… I think a lot of hear, a lot of determination and playing every single minute like it's our last. I think there's no one particular matchup because I think both of our teams have great players, but I think when you get into the bench situation it's going to be interesting to see how our bench matches up against their bench."
I would like to say to Delisha Milton that she is a great all-around player. I would also like to know what did she do to step up her offensive game this year? She has always been a great defensive player.
- Paradise (Los Angeles, CA)
DeLisha Milton: "I've always been a great offensive player too, but that hasn't been my role since I've been here on the Sparks team. It's been mainly to hit the open shot when it's available and just play tenacious defensive. But with Lisa Leslie and Tamecka Dixon and Mwadi Mabika, they were all suffering injuries here and there during the season so different people had to step up and put more of the responsibility on their shoulders. And scoring was part of the responsibility that I had to take on. The opportunity presented itself and I wentF out there, I practiced a little bit harder, focused a little bit more and was able to hit the majority of my shots."
Any regrets about leaving your prominent role on the Mercury for a backup spot on the Sparks?
- Kent (Hollywood, CA)
Jennifer Gillom: "Beginning of training camp, I thought about it, that maybe I made a mistake. But now, at this moment, I don't feel like I've made a mistake. This is what I've been dreaming of, being back in the championship and hopefully winning a championship. So, no, I don't have any regrets."
With the way your team is playing and the way the team played in Leslie's absence, could you win the title without her contribution? Do you think you could lead them to a championship?
- Reggie (Jackson, MS)
DeLisha Milton: "I think that with Lisa, things are very easy because she is the focus of a lot of teams. So many people gear their defense to stop her and it presents opportunities for everyone else. Without her, things are definitely tougher but I still think that they can get done. So, yes, I think that we would still be able to win a championship in Lisa's absence, but I knock on wood today and thank God that we don't have to go through that because we definitely need everyone's contributions for us to win this third one in a row."
I'm your No. 1 fan. How does it feel to know that WNBA fans around the world are "loving to hate the Sparks?" What are your plans to prove them wrong and show them the best will win?
- Tasha (Tampa, FL)
Lisa Leslie: "Well, I think that there is so much more love that we receive than people that don't, because I don't know too many people who don't like the Sparks. I don't come in contact with those people that often. So I don't feed into that.
"I just enjoy playing the game, not only representing the Sparks but the league in general. And I think most of the time, when people root against the team that they don't like, it's probably because they're really good."
Do you prepare differently for the WNBA Finals than the regular season?
- Getta (Memphis, TN)
Tamecka Dixon: "Not necessarily. I think everybody has their own individual preparation but I think for myself I try to stay as regular as I can, try to do the same thing as I've been doing all season. I think from a team standpoint, we stay in a hotel and things like that, so there are some aspects that change [from the regular season] from a team standpoint, but individually, I don't really do anything different."
How has your preparation for this season's Finals changed compared to last year when you were a rookie?
- Cynthia (Cary, NC)
Nikki Teasley: "Last year I was more trying to fit in as a rookie point guard being on the defending-champion team. And this year, I've actually stepped into a leadership role as the point guard, a second-year player on the team and my confidence is way higher than it was last year, so I approach the game differently because I'm more confident in what I'm doing now."
What three players do you think you will have the hardest time playing against?
- Kelsey (Ayrshire, IA)
Tamecka Dixon: "I think obviously their three big guns are Swin Cash, Deanna Nolan and Cheryl Ford. So, I guess you can say those are the three toughest to match up with. And I think the thing with them is you can't allow them to get a lot of opportunities offensively, you've got to try to give them one opportunity and that's it. They do a great job of rebounding, especially Cheryl Ford, so we've got to keep her off the boards."
How does it feel to be in the Finals again and have a chance to win another ring?
- C.C. (Memphis, TN)
Nikki Teasley: "It feels good to be back in the Finals. It's weird that we're going to have to win it on the road. I think that's a feeling that I haven't felt, so I'm looking forward to that, how the celebration is going to go."
I am a big Sparks fan. Will the champion experience the Sparks have be able to overcome the hungry East?
- Sharon (Anaheim, CA)
Nikki Teasley: "Yeah, I think so. Anytime you have an experienced team going into a situation, you're always going to revert back to that. And I think that we will at some point in time revert back to that, but Detroit is hungry and they're very young, they're a very good basketball team and they beat us earlier in the season. But again, that was the beginning of the season and this is the playoffs, and we've been here before and we understand that it's not going to be easy but we know how to win because champions do find a way to win. And we've done that this year in the playoffs, so we're looking forward to this game."
Mwadi Mabika: ""Yes, but we're not cocky about it. Yes, we have more experience than them, but we still have to compete and treat them like they have experience."
How does it feel to be part of a team that's gone from worst to first?
- Sarah (IN)
Cheryl Ford: "It's great. I'm pretty excited about it, I think we've all just come together as one as a team and just focused on what we were here for. And it's all worked out for the better."
How does it feel to be so successful in your first year and go to the Finals in your first year?
- Aaron (Las Vegas)
Cheryl Ford: "Expecting to come in here and adjust as fast as I did, that was a pretty big thing for me too. But it's just good, just being on a team where you're winning, everything is good and we're having fun."
How do you feel about making the WNBA Finals for the first time?
- Shawn (Chesapeake, VA)
Swin Cash: "It feels awesome. Words can't describe right now how I'm feeling, but I can just tell you that I'm excited, I'm eager and I'm ready to go."
How do you feel about the awesome progress you and your co-players have made this year?
- Danielle (Indian Trail, NC)
Swin Cash: "I haven't even had to time to really think about it. I'm just so happy, I'm riding a high wave and I'm just going to keep riding it hopefully to the championship."
I was a fan of yours when you were with the Monarchs and was sad to see you go. Now you have a chance to win the championship. How was the season trying to adjust to coming off the bench after being a starter your whole career in Sacramento?
- Liza (Chico, CA)
Kedra Holland-Corn: "It's been good as far as adjusting because of the fact that I wasn't a starter always in Sacramento and when I started my career, I came off the bench as a rookie playing in the ABL, so it wasn't a role that was new to me. And having been a veteran for five years and it was kind of easier to go into that role just because of the fact that I knew what I could bring to a team. And with the experience that I had, I could bring a lot of offense and a lot of other things, so it wasn't a surprise to me and I accepted my role and was happy."
How does it feel to be in the WNBA Finals?
- Ari (Silver Spring, MD)
Kedra Holland-Corn: "It's actually probably a dream come true. When you're a little girl sitting in your house dreaming about hitting the winning shot or dreaming about going to some kind of championship game. And now you're finally here having reached that dream and trying to fulfill that dream as far as winning the whole thing, it's definitely a dream-come and probably one of the, if not the happiest moments of my life. So I'm enjoying it right now."
You're one of my favorite players. With your back injury, what will you be doing to prepare for the games?
Deanna Nolan: "Right now, I'm doing little things, day-by-day, like riding the bike, doing the treadmill, a little bit of whirlpool here and there. No running or jumping yet."
Do you prepare differently for the Finals than the regular season or the playoffs?
Deanna Nolan: "Regular season basketball, of course, you try to win games, but it's not like a playoff atmosphere. Now, everyone is more focused and will try to limit their mistakes. I think it is more physical. In the playoffs, the refs don't let you be as physical as you can be. A lot more fouls being called now. At the same time, you try to be physical."