Throughout the 2007 WNBA season, these two longtime friends, teammates, roommates, competitors and fellow fun-loving troublemakers exchanged correspondence in this "Buddy Blog." And thanks to either kindness or dumbness, they have decided to share their letters with the world. Throughout the 2007 WNBA Playoffs, they will continue to talk about anything and everything that comes to mind, all the while keeping each other up on how the other is doing in their travels and the march towards the Finals.
Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird has been a consistent All-Star and one of the league's most popular players since being the first overall pick in 2002. Last year, the Long Island, New York native was one of ten women named to the WNBA All-Decade Team. But after achieving her greatest professional accomplishment, winning a WNBA title in 2004 with Seattle, Bird and the Storm have since fallen short of those lofty expectations. She is hoping that this is the year that all changes.
Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi was the first overall pick in 2004 and has become one of the game's most exciting and dominant players in just a few short years. Last season, this Cali girl led the Mercury to its first winning record since her arrival and finished as the league's scoring champion and broke the scoring record. Yet she has still not played in a postseason game. More than anything, though, she wants to bring the same winning formula to the Phoenix Mercury.
So while you've been keeping youself busy, figured I might as well let you know what I've been up to.
I'm back in New York and glad to be home.
Naturally I watched Game 1 and it's been a great match-up so far, but for me it's always hard to watch. Both Detroit and Phoenix have been doing a great job and I expect this series to continue to be an entertaining one.
So Game 1... What is up with the fouls? I know we already talked about this, but the minute that game ended, I was watching with my mom and I told her that you're going to have like 50 in the next game. I just know it. I know your going to bounce back. But you have to watch out for those fouls, dude. They are calling fouls, so why are you sticking your hand in there? Katie Feenstra is like 6-8, you are not going to block her. I could hear Coach Auriemma screaming at the TV all the way from Connecticut.
It was a great game, otherwise. I know you only had 22 minutes, which is tough for one of the best players in the world, but it was still a four point game with under two minutes to go. Penny was a monster, as usual. Cappie played great and I know Phoenix can play a much better game. But you do have to give credit to Detroit. It is because of them that Phoenix struggled a little but offensively at times. And, of course, their inside play. Wow, even without Cheryl Ford they were able to really bring it. Kara Braxton had a great game and Katie Feenstra as well. But Plenette is just so good. You know what you are going to get from Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan and Swin. I just can't wait for to Game 2 tomorrow.
So since the season ended, I did make it to Vegas to visit my dad and then I came back to New York. I have been here since Monday, so I went home to Syosset for those five days, just hanging out, seeing my friends, obviously seeing my mom and just catching up. I really have been doing nothing. I have been enjoying my mom's cooking and just hanging out. I hit up the Greek place, "It's Greek To Me." It's all about the Greek place with the best Gyros. And of course, the best bagel place. I like to pump up my hometown food. I think it is the best and Dee, you can second me on that.
Otherwise, I have just been resting, worked out a couple times and am back in New York City with the U.S. Team.
USA Basketball is going well so far after one practice tonight. We miss all those guys that are playing in the Finals and wish them the best. Also miss a lot of the other regular who aren't here, like Catch. I know how hard she is going to work to get back to full strength and know she'll be better than ever. We wish they were here, though. But it's been good. It was only the first day and we just ran through some things and are starting to put our defense in. We put our offense in, nothing crazy. I am sure it is going to get harder and harder as we go along.
I am looking forward to having you join me on the U.S. Team here. People don't realize how much fun it is to play together and it has been a while since we've played together.
The last thing I'll say is that the young players here on this team are very good. Candace Parker is an exceptional player and you can go down the list from there. Courtney Paris, Sylvia Fowles, Candice Wiggins... It is really cool to hang out and meet those guys and to play with them. I'm telling you, they are great. I don't think there were players around like that when I was in college. They come in here and they have fresh legs and they are wide eyed. It is fun. Although they are starting to make me feel old.
Reminder, my birthday is in a month. Note to Dee: good gift.
And yes, I am excited to go back to Connecticut with the U.S. Team next week. We are playing against a great Australian team, so it will be good to get some practice in against the defending World Champions. I am sure a lot of UConn fans and a bunch of our friends will come out to the game and just want to hang. It will good to see all those people, as well.
So keep on working, good luck in Game 2 and I'll save a seat for you on the bus here.
So you probably thought the blog might stop just because I'm done playing, but you thought wrong. I'm IN at least until we head off to Chile together for USA Basketball and then go to Russia. Doesn't make much sense to write each other when we're roommates. Maybe we just get a webcam for our place there and broadcast live 24-7. Or maybe not...
It has been a few days now since the end of our season (thanks to you) and I have had some time to reflect and think about things. Whether a season ends with a championship or with a loss, there is always this anti-climactic feeling that comes with it all being over. I know you can totally relate to this, but you go from having all of these little things to think about, travel and practices and preparing for the next opponent, what you need to do in the game and what to eat, what time to sleep, small things... to nothing on your mind at all. Nowhere to be, nothing to do. All of my teammates are starting to leave town. This is the roughest time of the year, especially when we finished the season the way we did.
Bottom line is you guys are a very good team. I know we got swept and I don't think we played our best basketball in those two games, but when a team plays as well as the Mercury did and are as good as you are, you have to come to terms with it. There's a reason why you were the number one seed and we were fourth. You played like it. We definitely gave you a run there in the second game but just came up short. Not just this season but the past three really, we have been good enough to make the playoffs but not advance past the first round. The culmination of these three years is really getting to me now (though we did win a championship in Russia and I do count that).
Of course, there were highlights in the series as well as the season overall, but for the most part, everyone is disappointed with how it ended. I just hope that we'll be able to be back in Seattle next year. We'll find out soon. Now that the season is over, I definitely have been thinking about it a lot more. I think it's only natural to reflect at times like this, but we always think about how we'll get 'em next year. And we don't know if there is going to be a next year. There are also a lot of players whose contract situations are not yet determined, myself included, and Janel Burse, Betty Lennox, Wendy Palmer. We don't have that many players signed and the uncertainty of where we're going to be plays a role in their decisions.
It is a weird feeling, and more so because I live in Seattle. My whole life could be totally different in a year, but hopefully that's not the case. We really have a good thing going with this franchise. And you are certainly someone who knows this as well. Whenever you come to play here, you always talk about how loud and great the fans are. The support they give us is truly amazing and I would put them against any franchise's fans around the league as the very best. So a lot of emotions going on, but for the most part, just going to think about things I can control.
USA Basketball training starts September 7 as we get ready for Olympic qualifying. I have about a week to take care of things and I will be busy. On Friday, I have a photoshoot with Kevin Durant to be on the cover of American Way, the magazine for American Airlines. That'll be cool since a lot of people fly and a lot of people read those magazines. So they'll see my ugly face and Kevin Durant. After that, I'm heading to Las Vegas to visit my dad. Vegas, baby. Vegas. I haven't ever been there to visit him and he's been there for a long time. I have to go check him out, but he has a pool so this will be my weekend getaway. Then I head back to New York on Monday, spend a few days there with family and friends and get ready for training camp all over again.
Hopefully you will not be there for that. You always have to cheer for the team that knocked you out. You never want to lose to a team that loses in the next round. So I am now officially a Phoenix Mercury fan. Though if you play against Detroit, I'll be rooting for Swin, too. I will say that, as a spectator, these playoffs have been amazing. I don't always get to watch games because I'm so busy, but I have really enjoyed watching these games. Whether overtime game, thrilling endings or great players playing great... look at the New York-Detroit series. The defending champions are stacked with talent taking on a team that no one thought would do anything this year. But here they are going down to the final moment of Game 3 on Detroit's court. Even though we got swept, that series is proof that 1 vs. 4 seeds mean nothing and anyone can beat anyone on any given night. But the Indiana-Connecticut series was, by far, the best. I was pulling my hair out watching Game 3 in that one. At least in my career, this playoffs has been the best to watch.
As far as the final four that remain, I think it's going to be... Phoenix against... I want to say Detroit. But the Shock cannot play the way they did in the first round and think they are going to advance. Bill Laimbeer is probably all over them for it, but I think Indy will be ready for them. I think a Detroit-Phoenix Finals will be tough and go four or five games. I see the Mercury pulling it out, too. I know Detroit beat you guys in the regular season, but that doesn't matter now. The way you are playing right now, it's hard to stop offensively. The only thing to do is keep up and score, but even that is a tall order for any other team right now. It's easy to tell you really enjoy playing with each other and the city is behind you.
I think this is your year.
By the way, this week's sign that the apocalypse is upon us... Donnie Wahlberg talking sports on ESPN2's morning show.
Isn't that a great picture of us on WNBA.com? It looks like we're playing Battleship.
Anyway, I just got back from the grocery store and picked up some essentials, milk and orange juice. I know we're heading on the road this weekend, but I ran out.
I read your Blog from yesterday and, yeah, this series really will be all about who shows up. You can talk about who's more talented and who has the better team on paper all day, but it's about who comes to play as a team. It's going to be an interesting series. I do think this is the first time we've met when it mattered. Regular season is one thing but the Playoffs are a whole different ballgame.
I touched upon this a bit the last time I wrote, but I don't think much changed when we knew for sure that you and the Mercury were the opponent in the first round. It doesn't really matter who you play or when you play them because, as you said, in order to win, you have to go through the best teams at some point. Right now, you guys are the best in the West so it'll be a good series. Regardless of what happened in the regular season, I don't think about it at all. I don't think anyone should at this point. The WNBA is too good and all of the teams are too good to base it on previous performances.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The media today was asking us about playing you guys... number one in the West, three All-Stars, but the one thing they said you didn't have is playoff experience. But you know what? I think you've played in enough big games, Penny led Australia to a gold medal at the World Championships last year and Cappie played in a lot of big games in college as well. I understand that it wasn't necessarily the WNBA Playoffs, but I told them that everyone on your team has been in enough big games. So I don't necessarily see experience as our advantage. Hopefully it will be, though. Only one way to find out.
The three-game format for the first two rounds doesn't necessarily let the higher seed establish home court advantage. In Russia, we play three-game series as ome-away-home formats. That is a home court advantage. But when you play away-home-home as the better seed, the travel makes tougher for that team. Phoenix has to travel to Seattle for Game One, which is tough, then turn right back around and fly back again. We've been home for more than a week. That's where you lose your advantage. I understand that the next two games are back at home, but you end up traveling more, which makes it a disadvantage. Think about it.
Now... I'm not saying we can tire you our because I think you may be in the best shape of any team in the league. At least from what I've heard about your practices. You run a lot. So tiring you out will not be our game plan. The reason why I think we've matched up well with you well is because we like to run and score as well. But teams playing against the Mercury really need to pick and choose when to run and when not to. We don't want to get caught up in your game or style because that's how you beat teams. By outscoring them. I just know it's not going to be easy.
The last couple of times our teams have played, you've played a zone... then when Lauren got hot, we saw a box-and-one. You were that one lucky lady who got to guard Lauren, following her everywhere. It's an interesting match-up, whoever guards Lauren, because she gets double- and triple-teamed so frequently. I wonder if you'll still stay on her in that box-and-one. I do think that you guys are a very tough team to match up with on defense. We don't have a very big backcourt. Izi is probably 5-11, I'm 5-9 and Betty is probably like 5-7. It's you, Kelly Miller and Cappie. Cappie may not be tall, but she's strong, which makes up for it.
We're in a situation where that first game is really important for us. We're at home. Of course, I'll tell you how we have to win that first game, but I know we won the first game in each of the past two years and ended up losing the series both times. So what do I know? Of course, winning that first game helps. It's the one game we have on our home court and we really play much better at home than we do on the road. I think that's true for every team.
So it will be important to get our crowd into it early and get this thing going. Then we'll head back to Phoenix and see what happens. I think the regular season does a good job of preparing for the quick turnaround of games. At this point, everyone is used to traveling and playing a lot of games in a short period of time. The stakes are just higher. I hope it's a good series. Two good teams, though we've kind of underachieved a bit this season. Hopefully we can put it together at the right time.
Talking About Talking
I do remember you trying to talk to me last game. I don't even know what it was, but I did not pay attention, you're right. It was something stupid. I remember what it was. You were asking me about Russia and I told you I'd talk to you later about it. And yeah, you're not the kind of person who will be like "You can't guard me." I try to explain to people that you actually try and have conversations when we're out there. You think you're the number one conversationalist in the world and will talk to anyone. But that's just who you are. Loud and out there. I wouldn't go far as misunderstood, but it's fun.
The thing about you when you play, you're always having a good time. One of the most competitive people ever, but always have fun and that's why you can play your best. It's when you're not having fun, that's when we see the arguing and the other antics. No other players can make you made, but it's just the way the game is going or sometimes the refs. There are a few people in this world, and I think Lauren also falls into this category, where the madder they get, the better the play and the more focused you get. And I think you're one of them, too. Not many people can play well when the emotions are running high, but I definitely see that in you and Lauren. I'm not like that. I try and control it, but when I get mad, I'm not as focused and am thinking about other things.
But enough about basketball, because everyone else is going to be talking about this for the next couple of days... I just sat down with my turkey and cheese sandwich and juice, freshly bought from Safeway, and turn the television on, and what's on HBO? The best movie ever, Prime, with Uma Thurman and Meryl Streep. Remember I made you watch this movie like 100 times? I think it may be the greatest movie ever. It's a chick flic, but we are chicks. I know you hate it. Ironic, don't you think?
The only thing I will say that even resembles trash talking is that, as usual, the loser has to buy dinner. The same rule stands. The dinner's won't change, I know they won't...
Of course... I'm sure I'll talk to you between now and the game.
It's Friday morning here in Seattle. Our last regular season game is tonight at home against the Sparks. It's an interesting day for everybody.
From a basketball standpoint, it's going to be a relaxed and fun game, but a game that we want to win. We really just want to play well. Even though there are no playoff implications on the line for either team, it will still be a competitive game. For us, much like you guys in your remaining games, we want to end on a good note with some momentum, feeling good about how we're playing. The Playoffs will mark a new season for us. It is a time in which anything can happen. We can let go of what has happened in the regular season because, to some degree, we have underachieved. But the Playoffs can tell the story for the year. People will forget about our disappointing regular season.
On the other side of things, a lot of media around here is asking us about how it feels that this may be our last regular season game at KeyArena, or in Seattle? You know, not until this last home game did I even think about it or even mention it. Even when we've talked, you and I, or some other friends, it isn't anything that really came up. So this is the first time I've thought about it. I'm sure a lot of fans are feeling uncertain as well. It would be sad if that was the situation, this being our last game, but you never know what's going to happen in the future, so we'll see.
Would I Rather...?
At this point, we just have to do it. Hopefully when the lights are on and it's a big game, everybody will show up and we will be on the same page. I don't think there are any words that can be said or drills we can do in practice. It's just one of those times now where we have to play and play well. We have to show up. A lot of people are asking me who I'd rather play in the first round... you guys in Phoenix or San Antonio. To be honest, I don't have a preference. The top seed is still being decided and I wish you the best of luck. It really would be a huge accomplishment if you were to get first in the West. I know it's just the regular season, but it still says something.
We've had better luck against the Mercury this season, while losing all four games we've played against the Silver Stars. But you can look at it either way. If I said we wanted to play Phoenix because we've already beaten you two out of three games, that doesn't mean anything in the Playoffs. Or I could say we'd rather play San Antonio because the law of averages says we're due. Does that really matter? Whoever we get, we get. It's actually nice to have been locked into a seed for the past week. We've been at home relaxing, knowing we're hosting the first game on our court. As for who we're playing, I guess we'll find out in a few days. Regardless, we're looking at one of the two best teams in the West and we'll have to go through one or both of you to get to the Finals. Doesn't matter who is first.
I won't do any trash talking now... that will commence once we know who we're playing.
LJ FOR MVP
My M.V.P, vote would definitely go for Lauren and making her case is not that hard. I know people will think I'm biased, but it's not about that. It will likely come down to Becky and Lauren, don't you agree? I have so much repsect for Becky's game as a point guard. Generall speaking, point guard's numbers aren't something that stick out. But Becky has both the leadership thing going as well as the numbers. She's top three in scoring and has led the league in assists pretty much all season. She's had a great year, taking over team that didn't do as well last year. I know they've added another pieces, but Becky is what makes them go.
But... come on. Look at what Lauren has done this year. She leads the league in scoring, rebounding, blocks, double-doubles, has a 47-point game. She'll probably get Defensive Player of the Year. As great as any other player is in the WNBA, if I were starting a team, Lauren is my top pick. You'd be up there, Tamika, Becky, all these great players. But here's what separates her. No one else sees double- and triple-teams every single night and continue to average 20+ points, 10+ rebounds, etc. That has always been my point and case for her. I'm sure Lisa Leslie faced the same thing, but that's what makes an M.V.P. Seriously, just to drive this home, the one night this season Lauren did not get doubled, she got 47 points.
And any time we don't have Lauren, it's a struggle for our team.
Coming Together As a Team
Last night was a fun night for us as a team. We've been home for awhile and tonight's our last game. With Wendy Palmer's parents in town, they wanted to cook for us. Her mom is actually an amazing, amazing cook. Some of the apartments that my teammates live in are kind of small, not that mine is much bigger (you've seen it), but she asked if I could host everyone and I was like, sure. I was the host, Wendy's mom was the chef and we had pretty much everyone over. A couple of people couldn't make it but it was fun. We had the New York-Washington game on NBA TV and everyone was eating their "soul food." We had mac-and-cheese, pork chops, ribs, chicken casserole, pound cake for dessert and some banana pudding. We tore it up.
And then, of course, we finished off the night with a little Guitar Hero. Some of the older crowd left, but I have to admit, Izi was killing it. For her first time, the Brazilian has some moves on the guitar. It was fun to just hang out and we have a team that really likes each other and gets along so it was good to come together...
Now I'm off to shootaround, so we'll talk next week. We might have some interesting things to discuss... Good luck this weekend.
Sorry it's been so long since I've really written, but I was so busy with rehab that I had nothing left to give. Then I just saw you last week in Phoenix and we said everything we needed to say in person. But now it's time for an update. I'm stuck on a bus driving from New York to Washington and have nothing else to do...
We've actually never done this bus trip before. I'm glad we did it because the weather in the northeast is bad. Delays everywhere on all flights. It's about four hours long and we're just over two and half into it. I slept the first two and the only reason I woke up is because we stopped for bathroom break and food. Everyone else is eating and watching a movie, Perfect Stranger.
Did you watch Beckham's first game in L.A. this weekend? I was totally tuned-in and highly entertained. I watched the hour-long special beforehand. His house is ridiculous, like the ones from Laguna Beach with the pool overlooking the cliff. It's unbelieveable. He puts L.C.'s house to shame. And I feel bad for him, too. If it wasn't his first game, he probably wouldn't have played at all. Everyone was expecting all of these crazy things out of him but he only played for like 12 minutes. The amount of cameras following him was good and good for soccer. To see all of the famous people there was funny. But afterwards on ESPN's bottom ticker, they showed the score and said "David Beckham entered the game in the 75th minute (Did not score)." I was like, wow. That's rough. What were people expecting in 15 minutes? Sometimes people expect too much from these star athletes. Especially in soccer, you're not going to score every game.
Back In The Saddle
So the first time I practiced was last Monday, the 16th and I really didn't know what to expect. I went to practice and the trainer originally said no contact. We talked about it and I suggested going with it and seeing how I felt step-by-step. When drills first started, I did a couple and sat out a couple. As practice went on, I felt better and better and when it came time to do full-court five-on-five, I stayed in for that. Must have been beginner's luck because I was hitting every shot, passing well, playing defense and felt really comfortable. So when we played your guys the next day, I joked that if it had been Game Five of the WNBA Finals, I would have suited up. But, the doctors said two weeks and I had to stick to that timeline and waited.
This is actually the first time I've come missed time due to a procedure performed on the lower part of my body. I've never missed games for anything other than my broken nose and the difference with the nose is that you're wearing a mask and then not thinking about it. The knee is something you have to think about and be conscious of and do a mind-over-matter kind of approach. There were definitely times in the last two games back when I thought about it, but I just kept playing. If you're going to be tentative and think about it constantly, you're not going to enjoy yourself.
The hardest thing, really, is my conditioning and getting back into that comfort zone. I was doing pool work-outs, bike work-outs, pre-core work-outs and treadmill work-outs, but nothing can simulate a real, live game. And aside from my shooting woes, I feel pretty good. Hopefully I'll be ready to go the next time we play you guys. It was good being able to be there for the game last week and definitely for the event at Majerle's. You guys did a great job of setting up the event and anytime you can see Thunder Dan, it's a good thing. Just another excuse to have a good time with friends with all of the proceeds going to a good cause. Nice work on the attempted bartending, too. I think you and Lauren made like two drinks and then that was it. You guys should have waitressed. I don't think I'd be a very good waitress, though.
I Was Told There Would Be No Math
That reminds me, did I ever tell you about the time I worked in the food services industry? I've blogged about our house in Saratoga (Upstate New York) near the racetrack when I was younger, but I don't think I mentioned that I worked there, too. My dad's friend managed to the concession stands that sold all different things... the hot dogs, burgers, sodas, etc. They also had little carts scattered around the track and I spent one summer working a cart that sold chipwiches. I was maybe 14 years old. I got up every morning, set up the cart and sold chipwiches for the entire day (there were some other things like ice cream and sorbet bars), but the hardest thing about the job was the dry ice. If you spend all day reaching into the cart, you get burned. I had burns all over my arms. It was the worst. But it taught me some valuable lessons that I've taken with me through my life... like avoid dry ice at all costs.
I also had trouble making change, especially when I had to add up a few different things that cost like $2.25, $4.75 and $3.50 and someone gives you a $20 bill. I had to be quick on my feet and math was not my strong subject. I think you're like 10 times better at math than I am, at least with the easy stuff like addition and subtraction. Long division, I'm not so sure about. Still better than me. I need a calculator for everything.
I certainly don't keep track of my shooting percentages. It was easy when I was 0-for-6 yesterday, but I made the big shot when it counted in New York. The play was actually off of a jump ball, so it's not like it was called for me. Izi played great last night. She always does against New York. So we had a play set, Janell Burse set a back screen for Izi on a flare as the ball went up and Lauren tipped it to Izi. It was designed perfectly as I was sitting there watching it unfold. I was waiting for her to shoot it, chilling at the top of the key and she took a dribble, made a good read and found me. I had missed the shot before, so after I hit the final shot, I was telling people back down the floor that there was no way I was missing that shot twice. I'm glad it worked out for us.
Back to life on the road... Lauren is sitting behind me and wants to make a guest blog entry for you while I eat my food. Hold on...
Hey. How's it going? I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be talking about here but since this is to Dee, it really doesn't matter. I guess it's good that Sue is writing this blog and not me. It's good that she gets all of the attention, too. It's great. I'm not really an outgoing person. I'm a bit shy, really, so I think the fact that you two get all of the attention is brilliant. It's all in good fun, though.
Someone recently asked me if I had to choose one of you to play with for the rest of my career and only one of you, who would I choose. It was a horrible thing to ask and I answered it diplomatically. I couldn't say either but would say both. In addition to the All-Star Games, people may not know that I got to play with both of them in Russia together this past year. We have so much fun together. When we're overseas, it's just fun. We live together and play together. We're going to be doing it again for another six months. There is always a smile on our faces. No drama. Easy-going. I've never had a little group like this, people who I rely on for everything so it's nice.
Diana makes everyone laugh, Sue is the planner who gets us out and I'm the one who wants to stay at home. Then Sue tells me we're going out and Diana's like We're going out. So I say okay and go along with it. Don't leave me behind. So I just didn't want to feel left out. Here's Sue again. Thanks. Bye.
It's me again... Still eating but wanted to say one more thing. Lately, all that fans want to know is how come you didn't rock the ponytail like you waid you would? Where is the ponytail? I've been giving you the benefit of the doubt... maybe she'll pull it out later in the season, she still has time, etc. So now don't make both of us look bad now.
So where in the world am I... I am actually in New York for the night, believe it or not. It has been a crazy week.
My knee had been a bit of a mystery for a few weeks, just to start at the beginning and give an update. I didn't even know what was going to happen until last week when the doctors spoke to me again about it. I just knew that my knee was really bothering me and that no one could figure out what the problem was. The MRI wasn't showing much. So having the surgery was a tough decision but when you know that something isn't right, you have to listen to your body. So that's what I did, with my doctor's help.
I flew back to Connecticut last Wednesday night, a redeye, so I got there Thursday morning. I saw the doctor who had done my two previous operations. Dee, I think you're familiar with him, Dr. Joyce in Connecticut. I just felt comfortable with him. I know he knows my knee and I've been there before. So they went in, it was a 45 minute procedure. My mom came up and hung out with me when I went into surgery on Friday morning.
Afterwards, when I woke up, the doctor came in and said everything went great. Luckily, I don't really have any adverse reactions to anesthesia. I was knocked out, though, but was back up and at 'em. I remember what happened the last time you had ankle surgery... first time you tried to stand up you threw up all over the place. So unlike you, I don't really have these problems. But the doctor told me that they cleaned out some stuff, though I don't know all of the technical terms, but some extra loose particles that were floating around in there. He also discovered that I had a torn meniscus. And in some weird, bizarro way, I'm really happy. I knew something was wrong and to have people doubt my decision to have surgery was really tough for me. I knew there was something wrong. He just clipped off a little piece that was torn and I don't expect it will have any impact on my return or length of rehab.
I walked out of the hospital without crutches and my first day of rehab I was already in the pool. I've been doing pool workouts since as well as biking and squats and a lot of other stuff to get the muscles strong. That's what I'm doing. I actually drove past the Gaylord Rehab Center, remember that? It's still standing. So yeah, this was not a decision that was made overnight. It took a lot of thought. I wanted my doctors in Seattle to talk with the doctors in Connecticut, and that can be tough to get busy doctors on the phone with each other. Kind of like you and me. The only way I can explain this is that I knew I was hurting. I was limping, I had trouble sleeping and it wasn't right. If I could have gutted this out, I would have, believe me. It just wasn't an option.
What I'll Be Missing
My doctors have said two weeks. He was very confident with how the surgery went, so while that doesn't mean I'll be back sooner, I feel like I'm progressing well even two days post-op. I'm running in the pool already! I just take it day by day. With any surgery, the more time the better. But we are in a season here and I don't want to miss that many games. I'll definitely miss the games this week and then we'll see what happens after the All-Star Break.
I hate that I'm missing All-Star. I won't be able to come at all, which was a tough decision. The rehab is so important and I don't want to miss any more games than I have to. It's four hours a day and it's tough, time consuming, tedious, but necessary. All of the flying wouldn't be good for me because I have to monitor the swelling. Everyone came to the decision that the best course of action is to go back to Seattle this week and focus on my rehab there.
I am pissed that I'll miss the Game, the parties and all of the events. To be voted number one by the fans was such an honor. (Thanks to everyone who voted. I am so sorry that I won't be there to represent you. I'll be there in spirit and will be watching on tv). I do not actively campaign and I don't really know why it is the way it is. Reporters ask me what it's like to be the top vote-getter and I say it will never get old and it's nice to know that people are supportive, like and respect your game and you as a person. It's fun. I guess you are a little bit more controversial than I am (I thought about the nicest way to say that) so maybe there are more people who love and hate you. I have no idea. I know that sometimes I love you and sometimes I hate you.
But congrats to you and Lauren and I am sad that I won't get to play with Becky and Yolanda as well (and the East starters and whoever gets in as reserves). And don't have too much fun partying. I know you're not the party planner and that's where I usually step up. You'll probably just be sitting in your hotel room the entire time anyways. When you get there, you're the life of the party... but someone has to get you there.
In the meantime, I'll be working on my ping pong game. You're just salty that I won the poll for who's a better bowler. I will always give you ping pong, though, it is because you have your own house rules. You do have an illegal serve, though, and Natasha (a girl on our team last year from Serbia) is right. You have to show the ball before you hit it on a serve. You violate international rules. That said, I will always be a better card player and I kick your butt every time we play gin rummy. And just because your family is from Argentina does not make you a better soccer player. I know you do love your roots. You just wish you were as good as Brianna Scurry. And you know exactly what I'm talking about.
I will say it was nice to see you back on the court. Because I was in Connecticut, I was able to watch that thrilling double-OT thriller. As a friend, I was happy to see you Asjha and Nykesha play so well. As a competitor, I wanted the Sun to win, but it was a great game. And then you go and get blown out by Detroit tonight... When you're playing a team on a three-game losing streak who is now back at home, you have to be careful .I don't know about you, but the first thing I look at when preparing for an opponent is to see what kind of win or loss streak they are on.
So far since I have been away, I have been IMing, texting, calling and emailing my teammates and coaches as much as I can. I am so used to being a part of a team, and then to not be there, I have FOMS. Fear of missing something. It's a serious case. I want to be a part of everything. Tanisha Wright has been doing a great job of recapping everything. Unfortunately we haven't been on NBA TV so I had to listen on the internet via radio webcast (which is awesome, by the way). Thanks to Adia Barnes and Alan Horton. It's interesting to listen and be a fan. I'm living and dying on every possession. I'm just glad I can follow it. It's like what you had to do during your time off... of course, neither of these times have been our choice.
We have one more game in L.A. that I will be able to watch and then I'll be at the game against Connecticut before the All-Star break. I'm excited to get back to Seattle, obviously. But I will miss you guys in D.C. Please write and keep me in the loop about what's going on and what I'm missing. Have fun!
Hey friend, hope you're having a good week. Just like when you first got ejected a few weeks ago, this two-game suspension is obviously a hot topic around the league. I've only heard about what happened and we don't need to go into it that much. I know you're bummed, I know you're going to learn from it and as the leader of your team, I know how hard it is for you to miss two games. But so far the team has rallied, winning last night. Hopefully they can do the same thing for you again this weekend. Maybe giving some other players a chance to play will help the team in the log run as well. Belinda Snell and Penny Taylor stepped up and played great and I hope they can keep that up when you come back and you can turn what appears to be a negative into a positive.
Regardless, stuff happens. I've certainly been on the verge of losing my cool. Again, I didn't see what happened and I know I talked about this previously, but it's the heat of the battle and you really want to win. The way the WNBA is right now, every game matters. Literally every game. So to lose on a tough call where you don't even have a chance to get a shot off can be make you mad. As an athlete, a very competitive athlete, it's tough when there are things out of your hands and beyond your control. A lot of people I talk to, whether they are friends or fans, they ask why we get on the refs so much. To be honest, until you've played a sport, you don't know what it's like to have someone take that away when you're fighting so hard for something.
As hard as that is, we learn as athletes early on that there are things beyond our control. We cannot control what the fans say, we cannot control what the refs call and we have to get over it. But as a competitive person, that can be tough. We hear what fans say. For the most part, you can laugh that stuff off, even that one fan in L.A. who sits by the tunnel and can be kind of mean at times. But it's a good sign for our league that people care that much and he wants the Sparks to win so badly that he tries to psyche us out. The signs have gotten more and more creative, too. If anything, it just makes for good lockerroom talk. It's fun, though. The fans are as much a part of this league as we are.
But Enough About You...
The WNBA is a tough league. Every game is a battle and there are no more easy games. For our team right now, or a couple of days ago, we were in a little bit of a lull. We weren't playing well. But the chemistry questions... if you could see us on the bus or in the lockerroom, the way we interact, go out or hang out, we have a great time. We really do. It's not a chemistry thing. And it's not coaching. There was an article written in the local paper about the coaching staff, but that's just one of those articles that people have to write. When you're losing, everyone questions everything. It's all a part of the process of figuring things out. We are a family and we'll figure things out within... the players, the coaching staff and the organization.
I think we've gotten back on the right path. We lost a tough one in Minnesota, but the way we played was great, then we got a big win in L.A. and L.J. dropped 35 points. We have eight games before All-Star, a crazy schedule, and if we can pull this together, then last week was just a bump in the road. This has been an interesting schedule for us. Normally you have stretches where you go every other day and then you might not have a game for five or six days (like you the Mercury right now). Right now, this is tough for us because we got our big break early in the season. It was great in June, but now it's all catching up to us and it goes every other day until the All-Star break. It's good because it keeps you game-fresh and we'll be ready to go and we won't get sick of practicing against each other. We just want to get in a groove, but at the same time, take care of our bodies and get a lot of rest.
Now Onto More Important Things...
So I was just thinking about how I haven't gone bowling in a long time when I remembered the last time we bowled in Russia. I think our ongoing argument is something we should let the fans decide. So I take bowling very seriously. My mom was in a league and we had our own balls and everything growing up. It's in the blood. I've even broken 200 a couple of times. So we were in Russia bowling on separate lanes and Dee was talking a lot because she had the high score of the night to that point but we weren't on the same lane. So we decided to go one-on-one in a head-to-head competition, just one lane. And I beat her. So our argument is, I say I beat her in the head-on competition but she had the high score that night. So who was better? We attempted to settle it another time, but it was at a teammates' birthday and we never got around to it.
We should take a poll.
My New Favorite Thing
So you have to try this. Speaking of games... When I was in Minnesota the other night, I discovered this new game that I am obsessed with. I'm pretty much friends with the whole Lynx team, Tamika, Svetlana, Kristen Mann, Amber Jacobs, Lindsey Harding, Seimone... they're full of people to hang out with. They turned me on to this video game called Guitar Hero for PlayStation 2. Oh my God. It is amazing. I seriously want to go buy it right now. You actually have a toy guitar and you're sort of playing along, clicking different buttons to the beat of the songs on the screen (almost like Dance Dance Revolution if you know what that is). The best part is that it's real songs. When I first did it, I did Nirvana's "Heart-shaped Box" and "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N' Roses. And every time you mess up, you get buzzed. My fingers got sore from trying to keep up. Seriously, they hurt. Oh, and you can also get booed off the stage. I really might have to go buy it right now. And I'm soooo not into video games. I never got past Nintendo. But this might bring me back. So fun.
Oh, and last thing... I am really excited for the NBA Draft, which is this week. It's one of the more fun events on the calendar every year. I'm also excited for the Seattle Sonics, who have the second pick. They almost have a better situation because there's no pressure on them. We met Greg Oden in Indiana a couple of weeks ago, he came up and introduced himself to us and he was really great. I also got to meet Kevin Durant when he was in Seattle last week as well. So I think either way both teams are coming out winners here.
Someone asked me recently what my policy is on people approaching me in public to say hello or for autographs or pictures. I don't really have a policy. I was actually on the airplane coming back from Indy (we won't talk about that game - a 30-point loss is just something that happens and I know you beat them last night... Now back to regularly-scheduled programming...) and it was the guy sitting next to me (for the five minutes I was awake) on the flight. He asked me if I care when people want my autograph or want to take pictures. The honest answer is no, not at all. I'm very grateful that people do ask for my autograph. One day, no one is going to want my autograph or picture and I'll be a memory.
I will say... there are occasional times, and it really doesn't happen that much, but when I'm mid-bite... eating. When I'm literally about to put the food in my mouth... But that has only happened a few times. For the most part, people are very respectful and it's a fun situation. It's very flattering and enjoyable to interact with the fans and get to know them even for just a few minutes.
Don't you agree that this is what's good about the WNBA? I think we're very approachable and generally speaking, we're like that by nature. The league also does a good job of making it that way. I love it. It's cool when you're somewhere and catch someone's eye and you know that they recognize you, maybe they don't realize who you are at first or maybe they do, or maybe they are too shy and there is that awkward moment... but for the most part, I have no problem with it whether I'm with the team or what.
So here's the thing with All-Star voting... The categories make things tough. Lauren Jackson and I were talking about this the other day. She was telling me that she's now going up against you because you're listed as a forward. You're in the forward category now? How did that happen? That's crazy. Do you know how the position selection works? I just don't get why they have to have two forwards... like why can't you, Kelly and Cappie all be listed as guards on the ballot? The thing is that people play different roles on different teams and not necessarily by position. If you're Lauren Jackson, why would you want to be listed as a center then you could have twice as many chances of making it if she's listed as a forward.
When you look at how the pick All-WNBA First and Second Teams, they also do it by two guards, two forwards and a center. All-Star is a little bit different because I know you're just voting for the five starters. I also have heard people throw out the idea of changing it to have just the five best players. But I have to stick up for the little people here because as a point guard. For the most part, our numbers aren't going to be the same as Diana Taurasi and Lauren Jackson as far as points and rebounds. So if they picked the five best players, I wouldn't get on there. Even if I lead the league in assists because it's not considered the same as points and rebounds.
I think it should be the five best players for the All-WNBA teams, but at the same time, I do like it broken down by position because it gives other people the looks they deserve. So I think we should keep it as it is. Two guards, two forwards and one center. Really in both cases, All-Star and All-WNBA, the team that should be selected is a team that can field the court. Of course, no matter what, someone deserving is always going to get left out. That's really a testament to how good the WNBA is right now because you don't know who is going to make the All-Star or All-WNBA Teams.
The All-Star Game is a fun event. Whoever makes it always has a good time. Generally speaking, the right people get there and the coaches do a good job of picking the right teams. For the most part, I agree with your All-Star picks. Except I would slide you in there. You kind of forgot yourself. But only for after-game party purposes, of course. I'm sure AOL and Alana Beard are going to host us well in D.C. That's where the game was my rookie year, so I know it's going to be a good time regardless of who gets there. Of course I want to go and get voted in because it's fun for everyone. I want to be there, but if it doesn't happen, I won't be mad. Maybe just a little sad.
Chamique and the Spurs
I was definitely surprised that Chamique retired. I think everyone was when they first heard the news. Like you said, though, if she's happy and that's your decision, then I'm happy for her. It will be sad when we go to L.A. or the Sparks come to Seattle, that we can't go out to dinner anymore. Otherwise, I'm happy for her. She will always be my Christ The King buddy, so if she's happy, I'm happy for her.
No surprise that the Spurs won, obviously, either. I thought the Cavs might win a game, but the Spurs are just so good. Tim Duncan, who is "their best player," didn't play great. I mean, he was there and did what he does, but Tony Parker is insane. The way he gets to the basket is fun to watch. Though the one call in Game 2 where he traveled, they had to call that. The Cavs were coming back from that big deficit and he made that ridiculous move to the basket and clearly traveled and no one called it and that ended the Cleveland run. That would be my only fault. Other than that, the Spurs were amazing and Tony was great. It's amazing how young he still is.
Two Days Til Hair Straightening
So I'm officially getting my hair straightened in T-minus two days. It's a big moment for me. The process is a process. Three and a half hours. They go in small sections and use some serious chemicals on it to straighten it. I'm a little nervous because there's always a risk. I know hair will grow back, but I hope my hair doesn't fall out. I think I would look really bad doing the Britney. Hey, but if it happens and I have to shave my head, at least people will know why now. But I'm very excited about this because I can literally get out of the shower and go and my hair will be pin-straight. Straight ponytail from here on out. Now Dee, what's up, man? Are you gonna go ponytail or not? Maybe you would have won if you had done it in that Minnesota game. Butterfly effect. Only takes one small thing and everything could have been different. So any second chances?
I think it's funny how much they're covering Paris Hilton in jail. She broke the law. The judge may have been hard on her just to make a point. If the average person did what she did, they would probably get probation. But it's sad. She was crying on tv and it wasn't good. That said, I don't think I could handle prison. Hell no. My prison knowledge comes from Oz, The Wire and movies. If it's anything like that, I couldn't survive it.
And for the record, I got complimented on my cookies a few days ago. Everyone ate them and you heard wrong that I can't bake. I can. And I'm good. At the end of the contest, they just said that everyone's a winner. Lol.
So two things we should never bring up even though they're all over the news is religion and politics. I know each of us always thinks we're right in political discussions. Though it is always fun to gang up on the foreigners when we're overseas. Always in a loving, friendly way, of course. Like when you go home, I can argue and fight with my sister, but the minute someone else does, those are fighting words. Like with President Bush. Some people here may not agree with his policies or actions, but if someone from another country talks about him, you have to defend him. It's our country!
It's always very light-hearted, but I always like to mix it up and have fun with our foreign teammates whether here or overseas. Like when I tried to convince Fran Zara that pizza was invented in America. I was totally kidding, but she took it so serious. I was like, pizza was invented in New York. Have you ever had New York pizza? She got SO UPSET and says "Pizza was invented in Italy. You Americans think you invite everything." She meant to say invent, but she said invite. Needless to say, we have been "inviting" many things since that conversation.
Speaking of foreigners, I got into a debate with LJ about the HBO show "Carnivale," which we all watched in Russia together. Well now she disagrees on how you actually pronounce the name. Is it "car-ni-val" or "car-ni-valley?" She thinks it's "car-ni-valley." I think she's wrong. Next time I blog, I'm having her come on and make a guest appearance to defend herself on the correct pronunciation of "Carnivale." If it's "car-ni-valley," I'm going to shoot myself. Stay tuned...
Think I can get stamps at 7-Eleven? I know ATMs have stamps. I know... who still sends letters, right? I have to mail in my condo maintenance fees. They changed companies and I haven't set my automatic billing up yet.
Okay, so let's get this started... I have to be somewhat quick today because I have to pick up a friend at the airport. Actually, it's Morgan Valley. I don't think she was very appreciative of what you wrote about her and the knee sleeve last time. Morgan was like "Did you see what Dee wrote about my knee sleeve?" I did. So she was like "Man, I only wore that thing for like a week." So I don't know how complimentary it could have been if that was her reaction. But it's all good. I still have to wear it. It's just one of those things to prevent swelling. Not my favorite thing, but at least it's a medical reason. Why, exactly, do you wear an armband? I haven't figured that one out yet. Sweat? You wipe your head when? Never. You know my reason for the knee sleeve, but what's your reason for the armband?
We have a big game tonight against Houston. They are coming in 0-8 and I know that you have been the kind beneficiaries of first wins for Minnesota and Washington, the two previous winless teams. I hope that doesn't happen to us today. I know Houston played L.A. tough a couple of days ago and Barbara Turner is now on the team, who used to be a member of the Storm. So emotions are going to be riding high tonight on a number of different levels. Plus, Tina, our Russian teammate, has been balling ever since Russia. She's shooting like 50% from 3, which is what we saw in Russia.
We, Barb and Morgan are definitely going to get sushi after the game afterwards. It's Morgan and Barbara's choice. I didn't pick it. That's the thing. Everyone comes to Seattle and always give me a hard time and say we should go somewhere else, but what happens? At the end of the day, they want to go to the sushi place.
One thing before I leave, and I promise to write again tomorrow to discuss some more things on my mind. But I can't let this slide...
I know other people read this and don't know you well, but the sarcasm is at an all-time high. So when you saw I'm a bad roommate, it actually means I'm a good roommate. When it comes to rooming with you, you're probably the biggest whiner on earth. Hotel rooms have the two double beds, but the better bed is the one farthest from the door and closest to the door. It's better because you have more space. I know when I have a roommate and get that key, I want to get in the door first and get the good bed. With you, though, I'd walk in the room first and you'd whine like a baby crying "You know that's my favorite bed." So I'd give it to you because I'm not that picky. That's what makes me the best roommate. I'd let you shower first and get the good bed. And you're a bad roommate because all you do is complain. Nowadays, we still have roommates on the road though you can pay to get the single. When I feel like having company, I'll have a roommate. When I feel like being along, I'll request the single.
And I'm glad you brought up the UConn-Tennessee game because I was definitely going to bring it up here. I really do agree with what you wrote. I think it is sad that the game is over. It's kind of ridiculous that they're not going to play it. It's the one game we looked forward to most every year. It was the most hyped women's game and was going on since 1995. It was exciting and was great for bringing in new fans. People who didn't know about women's basketball knew about that game. That's huge for the sport. There will be more rivalries, and I hope there are, but to have the first one die like that is really too bad. Hopefully they will meet in the Tournament and the hype will be back.
So I knew you were bluffing. You didn't go with the ponytail last night. Why did you tell us you were going to wear a ponytail when you had no intention of doing so? And I was all prepared to give you kudos today, talk about the long, flowing pony and come back and say that I was going to war a bun if you did it in my next game. So no pony for you, no bun for me.
When I first read what you wrote like Monday, I thought you were really going to do it. But I knew you couldn't do it and were just playing. That said, I still wouldn't be surprised if you busted it out later in the season.
"What's Wrong With Diana?"
Lol. J/k. Everyone's making a big deal just because you haven't scored like 40 points every game. But to your credit, you have some serious expectation placed on you because you had such a great season last year. Other than the fact that you guys have lost a few games, I'm not worried about you. In the game last night, you may not have been as aggressive as people are used to seeing or as involved. But when you cut the lead to three and were back in it, who was the one who hit those two 3's? It was a tough play at the end with Cappie missing a 3 and Tangela missing a good look. But if I'm on your team and regardless of whether you're like 0-for-20 on the night, I'd still trust in you.
So now people are giving you some flak, which isn't really fair. I know we're competing against each other, but you're still my friend, still my dog and I want to see you succeed. I know you didn't play too well against us, and then scored 37 the next night. So I really feel bad for whoever plays you next.
I heard you had a good time in New York, though, with all of the college folk coming down from CT. I hear there's a new lounge I need to check out when I'm there next time so thanks for the recommendation. By the way, did you get your new rims yet for your Range Rover? I haven't reached that status yet. I am not celebrity enough to get rims. I think I'm actually gonna sell my Defender. It's really not practical. It cost me like $80 to fill the gas tank the other day. It's kinda sad. Fun car in the summer, but I don't really drive that much. The farthest I might go is to the airport to pick up a friend or something.
I had to stop there for a minute to sign for my meal money, which is the best part of all road trips. I'm actually doing this on the bus on the way to the airport right now. Our schedule hasn't gotten bad yet but we're about to hit a pretty tough stretch. Heading to Sacramento now. I love it when the per diem comes around in a nice little envelope with my number on it. The best part about it is that it doesn't come out of our salaries, though I'm pretty sure we get taxed on it. Per diem is definitely a highlight, especially in training camp. That's when you get the real big bucks. To this day, I'll find envelopes with money all over my house and had no idea where it came from. Then I'll realize it was per diem I forgot to use from like the San Antonio-Houston trip of '04.
Another good thing about the travel is getting the miles. You need to work on your miles. I don't even know if you have cards for it. You have to. Whenever I fly now for personal, I fly for free because I get to use my miles. If I go to New York or Cali or the one time I went to visit Swin for her birthday because my miles covered it.
Want me to give you the update? As a lot of people have reported, I got hit in the game against San Antonio over the weekend. But that was actually just a dead-leg, a charley horse to the thigh. My right thigh. So I have a history with my knee... ACL and meniscal surgery... so when I woke up the next morning and had swelling, it was weird. It was the amount of swelling. I had some trouble walking, standing up was stiff, I tried to practice but couldn't run so I missed two days of practice. That was probably good for me because we also had yesterday off, so that meant three days in a row.
So now I'm on some good antiinflammatory drugs to get the swelling out. For people who aren't familiar with injuries, it's really the swelling that causes pain. It may not be the actual injury. It's the swelling that causes discomfort, and I'm trying to get that out. All I've done over the past few days is ice it. There is also some electrical stim and a compression sleeve that they'll put on me, but I ice it like five times a day. It gets the job done. I've also spoken with doctors in Seattle as well as my doctor in Connecticut who did the surgeries and they're on it. Hopefully they'll figure it out soon. Until then, I'm technically day-to-day. There isn't realy pain, just discomfort. It's an unstable feeling, which you never want to have when you're running. But today I practiced and that was good.
At least it's not my nose this time. But I don't talk about that.
Man, this is a tough one. Personally, I want the Cavs to win. I really do. That's who I'm going to be cheering for when I sit down and watch the game. But top to bottom, San Antonio is really tough. If the Cavs can get performances out of Daniel "Boogie" Gibson and Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes like they did against Detroit, then they might have a shot. But LeBron is going to have to do some superhuman things again.
The other thing happening this weekend is the Belmont Stakes, the triple crown horse race on Long Island... When I was a little kid, my parents were very into racing and loved going. We had a house in Saratoga, in upstate New York, which is "the summer place to be." That was their little slogan. We went there every summer. But to this day, I can't stomach horseracing. It's kind of like what happens when you eat something and get food poisoning, you never want to eat that food again. I will never go back to a track. I used to get dragged all the time to the track when I was a kid. I actually knew a lot about it... I was the kid who asked the jockeys for autographs... but I hated it.
My dad used to own horses and I got to ride the ponies, which was always a highlight. Fine LaGere and Saskatchawan. But we only got to ride the ponies because they're calmer and more sane. Thoroughbred horses are crazy. They'll bite your face off. So I have no predictions for the Belmont. I don't know who's running in it and I don't care. But the people who are going will have fun because it's one of the great events on Long Island every summer.
As much as I want to start this off talking about LeBron's game last night, we do have to first start with this whole ejection business. I know we talked about it after the game, but it is the big story.
I'll be honest. I laughed. We knew coming into this season that the officials were going to be more attentive to players reactions and what we say to them, things of that nature. We talked about it in Russia and I told you that you were going to be in trouble. You talk more to the refs more than anyone in the league... and not always in the nicest way.
I know things happen in the heat of the battle, it does with every player. It's human nature to react and hard to control. I know you're not always serious, but in the heat of the moment, it comes across a different way. So I knew it was going to happen. And you learned...
So... Funny Story
In my entire life and basketball career, I have been given three technical fouls. That's it. The first was when I was 12 years old (I got one in college and another in the WNBA). But back when I was... 12. CYO intramural basketball on Long Island... I'll never forget this game. We were down by one point with like ten seconds to go. so I had to foul the other team to get the ball back with time to be able to score.
It was not a hard foul, but it was obvious I was doing it to put her on the line so we'd have another chance. The girl I fouled was like my best friend at the time, too, but there was this ref who was like 80-years old who said I did it intentionally and immediately went crazy and threw me out of the game.
So now, when I do talk to the refs, I try and talk to them like human beings. My reactions may not always be the best, but I try not to yell and want to have a normal conversation to understand why things happened the way that they did. That's when I'm calm. Refs are human. They make mistakes. On three occasions, I didn't always stay as calm. I'll never forget that first time, though... I couldn't believe it. I just leaned into her a little bit and got her on the arm. We lost the game and I cried.
(Sidenote... I've cried a few times in basketball... when I tore my ACL, after we lost my junior year at UConn in the Final Four - remember that one?... and when I broke my nose. But you know what, when you get hit in the nose, you're going to tear up. So stop giving me a hard time about this. Go smack yourself in the face and see what happens. Oh, and I got a bit emotional after my last game in college when we won, but I'm not the kind of person who cries out of joy. I'd rather go celebrate and have fun.
LeBron James... Ridiculous
He was ridiculous last night. It was probably one of the best individual performances in basketball history. Not only were the shots he took tough and timely, but he made pretty much all of them. The thing about LeBron and NBA guys is that they are so strong and athletic that they can overpower people. Women's basketball is different because women cannot jump over each other. Maybe Deann Nolan, but that's it. I've been in games when people have gone off like that (both as a teammate and opponent), just in a trance. And you could just tell he was exhausted afterwards. I hope he celebrated, but he was so tired. He better rest up. And I think it was just as entertaining watching Charles, Kenny and Reggie talk about it afterwards.
I'm not sure you could tell, but no one else on his team wanted to shoot it. Because if they shot and missed, they'd be like 'Why didn't you give the ball to LeBron,' you know. So I do wonder why Detroit didn't throw more guys at him. Make him pass. But as much as I'd like to argue about this with you, there's nothing to argue over. LeBron was ridiculous and there's nothing else to say. I hope they win in Game 6 because if they don't, it'll be hard to win back in Detroit.
Better Than Kobe?
I know you are obsessed with Kobe. Honestly, though, if this wasn't public, I'd probably argue for the sake of arguing with you. But I really do think that LeBron has to do it a lot more to be on Kobe's level. The shots that Kobe has taken and made, even though he's older, put him on a different level still. The difference is that Kobe had Shaq. His supporting cast in L.A. when they won was 10 times better than what LeBron has around him now. You don't see Kobe one win away from the Finals with what he has around him now. They're both dominant, when it comes down to it. I'm sure you will throw some crazy statistics back at me, but I'm tired of the "Kobe Watch." We should tell people what you did in Russia, writing his stats on the dry erase board every day when he had that crazy run earlier this season. It made everyone in the lockerroom want to vomit.
So I notice you didn't bring up our last game... you don't want to talk about it, huh?
Anyway... people have been talking about my hair being long. I think I'm going to keep it this way. Sometimes you just want to change things up a bit. It's long because it's straighter. But if I wore it curly, no one would have said anything. Who knows, maybe I'll go back next year... I don't know. I wanted a change and I've been getting a lot of compliments.
You wear the buns in games, yes, but I've been wearing a bun my whole life. I just don't wear it during the game. I don't like it. You act like you invented the bun. Please. I wish people could have seen your bun freshman year. It was like a third grade teacher bun. It looked like a spiral. You didn't do the messy bun until years later.
What do you have to do with chicken wings? I don't get it. I understand the Taurasi pasta at Coach Auriemma's, but chicken wings? You know, I'm like the only one who doesn't have an item on the menu named after me at Geno's place. Maybe it's because I'm a partial investor, but I was actually away when they sent out the email asking who wanted what named after them. I'll leave that to the young'uns.
I hope you reached the plate with your pitch the other night. When Betty did it last year, she bounced it. She was so mad, I think she's going back sometime soon. I've done it twice. The first time it was a strike. The Mariners were playing the Yankees and I wanted to impress Jeter and those guys. The second time.. I'll admit it bounced by the plate. At least I wasn't in the dirt like Betty. I bet you were in the dirt. It's farther than people think.
...and you know what I haven't done since I've been back from Russia? I haven't been to the movies at all.
So you start off your whole blog last week about how you have this rule about never talking to people on the phone unless we're in the same state. So I guess you could hear just how surprised I was when my phone rang the other day and it was you. All of a sudden, the rule was broken. But you did have a good reason to call, so I guess I'll let it slide.
I've actually had a bad cold the past few days since getting back. I had to spend yesterday, my day off, at the doctor's office so that we could rule out strep throat. Yes, I know that we have a team doctor and all, but he's actually a doctor doctor, but he doesn't just work for our team full time, so I had to go to the office to see him. Maybe in telling everyone, they'll underestimate me. But probably not. I wish it worked that way. It's one of those things I should probably hide, but my voice would give it away anyway. I don't sound so good right now.
Our games were at the same time on Saturday night, so I didn't get a chance to watch the game on NBA TV (sorry), but you missed quite a good one. Our game was pretty crazy. We went on a 44-9 run to come back, and I'm not sure other people really understand what that means. 44-9 is like unbelievable. I wouldn't want to be down by 20 points, but the way we came back was a good thing for us because it got the crowd into it. I hope they come back.
It was even better because it was Opening Night, not to mention everything going on with the arena situation. I get questions about that at every media session that we have. It can be stressful with all of the "are we going to move?" and "are we going to stay?" questions. It's not distracting, it's not even annoying. It's just kind of there. I think our winning helps, but whether we win or lose, it's not going to change the situation. It is what it is.
It's tough, though, because you know how much I love Seattle. I live here. I like it. A lot. That's the best part about playing here is that I know I'm going to stay here, but if the team did move, I don't know when I'd get here. I wish I could pitch in and buy the team if it would help, but despite what the ESPN.com article said, I don't make that much money.
I read your predictions, and I can't find too much fault with them. I wish I did so we could have something else to argue about (as if we don't have enough things). I think it will be Seattle, Phoenix, Sacramento... and... wow, the fourth spot is tough. I'll say San Antonio. They are the one team that made the most moves. I know you didn't touch the East, maybe you were afraid to guess but I know a little bit more, but I'll (in no particular order) say Detroit, Connecticut, Indiana and Washington.
I really think this season is going to be crazier than any other season, I really do. There have been a lot of changes, but with changes come expectations and some teams will be better than others at first. Then everything is going to change, so I think it will be very much up in the air, especially in the West.
You made a pretty bold move by saying you'd win the scoring title this year. Now I may have only had two assists the other night and have a long way to go, but I'll go on the record and say that I'm going to win the assist title this year.
So I was reading what you wrote last time... when you said that you had a tailor named Terry Cloth, I lost it because I had a gym teacher named Lee Jeans and all he'd complain and call people out about was people wearing jeans to gym class. It was so dumb, yet so funny to me.
We did listen to some terrible music in Russia. It's funny, though, that you brought up that Mika song... dogging it in the last blog, but isn't this the same person who, when we were in Russia, said she'd be making a CD and "the window would go down and the music would be going up" the minute she gets back to Phoenix? Whatever you want.
You know what, we should argue more in this Blog. Isn't that all we do anyway? We've had some good arguments... People probably don't believe this, but we'll argue and talk about anything and everything.
Like how you said that Amare and Boris shouldn't be suspended? On one hand, I do agree and think it's a tough call, but the only reason they showed restraint is because the Suns coaches were going crazy to restrain them and hold them back. It is a tough thing, though, to happen in the Playoffs in a crucial game. But a rule's a rule and they clearly broke it. That's the way it is.
I'm sure there are some rules I don't know about our game, but that one, I do know... and the only reasons I know it is because of the famed Michelle Marciniak-LaTasha Byears incident, which was before your time, and then when Betty got into it with Tamecka Dixon and Alicia Thompson stepped out onto the floor (she didn't touch anyone) and got suspended for a game. So I definitely know that rule.
I'm looking forward to our game tomorrow night. I always do. People always ask what it's like having to guard you since we're friends and all. It's tough, what am I supposed to say, that it's easy? You can kill people in so many different ways. You say you're a born passer, though I don't know what that makes me... You score and that's what you do best. When you're aggressive, it opens things up for your teammates and that's really when you're a good passer. I know you always like to bring up how you were top five in assists last year, but the truth is that you're able to get all of those assists because you draw so much attention as a scorer.
The Mercury's style of play is perfect for you. When I originally heard that Paul Westhead was going to be your coach last year, I knew you were going to go crazy in the scoring category. He's a coach that wants you to score 50 points. I'll never forget the story you told us where you shot like 20 times and Coach Westhead went up to you after the game and said "You know, there were five or six shots you could have taken but you passed them up." But I guess I'd rather have you shoot the ball 30 times than have anyone else shoot it.
That said, stop carrying the ball. You carry the ball all the time and I hope the refs start calling you for it as they have been instructed to do in their "points of emphasis" training video. I love that you and Katie Douglas are the examples for people who carry the ball every time. And do they ever call carries overseas? You can literally hold the ball for like five seconds and then dribble again and they wouldn't call it. Hilarious.
After The Game
So what do you want to do afterwards? I think we may have to change it up this year because we've done sushi like every time. I don't know, we were big on mojitos in Russia, so maybe we'll find a place where we can get some. Feeling Cuban?
I also have a surprise for you... you know how T-Mobile is a sponsor of our team... they've been pretty cool... and you'll have a new, white Sidekick, the D-Wade version, waiting for you as an early birthday gift. I know it's not until June, but... Surprise!
So I'll see you on Wednesday... and I'm sure we'll each have a lot to write about afterwards.
I really don't have much time as we've already been at the arena for a few hours since the game ended doing pictures and talking with the media, and, oh yeah, CELEBRATING! But this Blog has been my baby all year and I'm not missing this last chance to do it now.
The Blog Finale! I love it.
Through everything, thick and thin, through diamonds and coal, we did everything we could to win. People doubted the running game, they doubted Small Ball, they doubted the Rover defense and we say YES to all of the naysayers, doubters and haters. We did it.
We are Phoenix. We run-and-gun, we shoot the three and we win championships.
This is the culmination of it all and it is a beautiful thing. Tonight we made beautiful music with beautiful people.
It's been a great trip and I loved almost every second of it. Back in the middle of the season when we were struggling we put the pressure on ourselves and this feels amazing. And I know the Sonics have a lot of money, but I think Paul Westhead should stick around and be the highest paid WNBA coach in the history of the league. He deserves it.
So to all of the Blog fans out there, thanks for reading all season long and I love you so much. To the Phoenix fans, some of you who we got to celebrate with tonight and the rest of you to whom we are bringing home the trophy, I cannot wait to share this with you.
Next year, back-to-back sounds good to me.
And to my blogging partner and my good friend Sue Bird, I'll see you in Chile. I got the ring, BABY!
Things are finally quieting down around here so I figured I'd steal a moment before heading to Detroit. Boy, that feels good to say. Going back to Detroit for Game 5. But I love this time in the arena when people are nearly all gone except the fans waiting for autographs, ushers looking for sleeping children in the seats like on the day camp bus and our families and friends waiting patiently for us. It's amazing that just an hour or two ago, this place was packed and rocking.
What a game tonight. It was emotional and hard-fought. Even though Penny and Tan had tough nights, we were never really worried about anything and we never felt any extra pressure or anything like that. They were playing well, just not making shots. They were working their tails off on the other end and we really wanted to stop Detroit on the defensive end and we have some momentum to build on. Sometimes you have good nights, sometimes you have bad nights.
But we have to get the Game 4 high out of our system as soon as possible. It really didn't mean anything. It now just means we have a chance to play for it all. That's what we have to concentrate on.
When the ball left Pee Wee's hands on that last shot, to be honest, I didn't even see the ball once it left her hands. I got pretty close to her but fell back to the ground to eliminate any possibility of the refs calling a foul. I didn't want to touch her, I didn't want to go near her so I didn't see the ball go off the rim. You know those people who have been near death and see that little bit of white light? Well that was sort of what I felt like. I kind of saw the entire season, all that we had worked for, all that we have accomplished, pass before my eyes. It was like my "Six Feet Under" moment.
I just heard the crowd and knew it was all over and all good.
So right now I'm finishing up here, waiting for some people to get ready, then I'm going to shut down and go have some dinner with Coach Auriemma, his wife and some friends. Maybe Penny and Gil will come along, too. They're in town so rarely, so it will be nice to show them around. As long as he's paying, though. And I'm going to be sure to ask Geno what he's been saying about me on the air. He was probably killing me, but I love him. He's one of the great people in my life who has really helped me.
So on to to Detroit. We are back on a plane tomorrow morning, returning to the D. I'll tell you, winning Game 2 and knowing that we can win in their building will really give us a lift and a confidence that we can beat them. We know we can go in there and play well. We'll see.
It might just be the biggest game of my career. One game to win it all, I have been in that situation before. This one is going to be ultra-physical, ultra-intense. So I'd say it will be the biggest game of my career.
As I'm writing this, I realize that this could be my last Blog of the season. But it's not going to be the last Blog of the season. We're going to do this until we die. I said it after Game 1 and I'm saying it again. We're not dead yet. We've come too far to die now. But like that night after the first game, I didn't sleep well. I went out to dinner with some friends after the game, but it just didn't sit right. The game, I mean. Not the dinner.
This morning I was feeling a little anxious, feeling ready to get back out and play. Everyone got to practice a little bit pissed off at each other knowing we let one get away. We played hard and tough, but we just didn't make plays. I'm still a little bit miffed from the game last night. Despite the missed shots, I thought we played well. We rebounded well and played hard.
We had opportunities last night and just didn't take advantage of them. And that hurts, especially in a series against a really good team. In playing like they did and coming back after a loss, they showed why they are the defending champions last night. I think it's possible to learn things from other teams and hopefully we can learn from them. Sometimes the other team just makes plays and that's what happened last night.
We didn't shoot the ball particularly well from the free throw line, which is disappointing because we were the best team from the line all year. But sometimes you make them and sometimes you don't. Tomorrow we had better make them or we'll be going home. Or staying home.
We are two competitive teams who are going toe-to-toe. It's going to come down to who makes the plays in the last two minutes. But we have to get rid of those feeling and come tomorrow REALLY ready to play.
So tomorrow is the first game we've had to play in the Playoffs where we're facing elimination. But I think we've been tested enough. We have been tested all year in different ways with people being out and other circumstances. So there is no doubt as to how we're going to respond. No sense of nervous, tentativeness or anything like that. We're going to go full-force like we've done all year.
We've got about 27 hours or so until game time and I'm going to do what I usually do. Finish this Blog, go tanning for ten minutes, get another burrito from Chipotle, watch a movie, chill out, text, IM and then come back for shootaround tomorrow at 9 a.m. ready to go. That's my plan. I might watch some game film, but I'm going to lay low, put on some piano classicals that I downloaded on iTunes. I pay for it all, I'm on the up and up. Legal in most ways, at least.
So I'll write again on Friday on my way to the airport or from Detroit Rock City. I cannot wait to go back there. Troy, here we come, baby. Big Beaver!
Well hello, friends and fans reading along on WNBA.com. Welcome back to Phoenix where it is a balmy 104 degrees today. Sue, how's that rain in New York treating you?
So tomorrow is Game 3 here in Phoenix and we're all ready. We had a good practice today, did some shooting drills and our regular stuff. That Kelly Mazzante is one good shooter, let me tell you.
But being home is nice for another reason. When we landed yesterday, it was great because there were like 30 or 40 people waiting for us at the airport. I love our fans. It was crazy. It was nice to see the fans, and you know they know everything, our fans. The got out flight info on the internet, probably checked out the WNBA.com Blog that was writing live from the airplane. I think they also have our email addresses, phone numbers and My Space pages covered, too.
So we got back into town, chilled out for a little bit and I had my typical off-day meal, the burrito. I love me my Chipotle, I'm a huge burrito fan. Then I went on a bit of a TV tour with my PR man, Vince and hit up all the stations to talk about the game. Then I finally got to see Balls of Fury, which was fun-ny. It was unbelieveable, let me tell you. It's a great movie. Loved it. Caught the end of the VMA's last night, though it was terrible. It's a joke.
Kanye is always awesome, though, and he was putting on a show out there at The Palms. Wish I was there. I actually had the new Kanye playing on in the lockerroom during practice. Bootleg! I got it for free because I have DJ's who have sources who know DJ's with sources who have it covered. I know he's got his big duel planned and I like Fifty, but I'm a big Kanye fan.
I'm hoping we have some local celebrity representation in the crowd tomorrow night. I expect them to be here, definitely a few Suns players like Stevie Nash and I know Amare is getting back from vacation and will be there. And even my boy, Matty Leinart (the second best looking guy named Matt in Phoenix this week behind my web man, Matty Wurst). So hopefully we'll have a nice little crowd there.
So this one's for Sue. In honor of the great Sandy Koufax's decision not to play in the World Series on Yom Kippur, I considered skipping Game 4 of the WNBA Finals for Rosh Hashannah. I gave up my Jewish beliefs last Monday so it won't affect me. But Sue, I think you should honor your heritage and sit out of Thursday's USA practice. Just say no to Anne Donovan.
Just winding down now after a nice day of basketball. A good win, a fun press conference and now we have a win in our column.
We are really glad to have gotten the split, but I'm not going to say this is "Mission Accomplished." We wouldn't want to say that prematurely, now would we, and we know that this is just the first win. We need three wins. "Mission Accomplished" will be getting those three wins. So this is "Mission Somewhat-Accomplished." Or "Mission Semi-Accomplished." Or even "Mission On-the-Road-to-Being-Accomplished."
Pick one and go with it.
But you always want to get one on the road. It's just huge for us. The win tonight was great and it felt nice to be able to stay out on the court, but I come into every game with the same mindset. To be aggressive and let the flow come to me. Sometimes you get into a game like the one today and you're feeling it and others where you're in foul trouble and it's a nasty mess. It happens.
It's funny because after I picked up my second foul tonight, I was like, "Here we go again." I looked over to Corey Gaines and he was just like "Don't reach." He has a great relationship with all of us, so when he said that to me, it was just calming and kept me in the game.
So I'm just happy for our team. I feel like we crossed that bridge. No matter what you say coming into the Finals, and you can say that you're not nervous, but until you get that first win in your first Finals, it's a new experience for everyone. And maybe we played like newcomers in that first game. Tonight I thought we played more like we have been in the last couple of months.
Next game is Tuesday, I think. We will probably have the day off tomorrow since Coach is good like that. I have to get him some new shoes, so it's good that we'll have some free time to do that. Then we'll get back on the practice court on Monday morning. Back to work like the rest of the world on Monday morning. We're not going to look at it like we need to win both games. We're just going to worry about Game 3. We want to win that and then worry about Game 4.
Consider this my invitation the entire city of Phoenix to come to the game. I want every Phoenician there ready to go. The crowds have been great for us all season long and that's what makes it a homecourt advantage. The volume, the energy and what they do for us cannot go unappreciated by any of us.
I like the city of Detroit, it's a nice little place. It has been a beautiful five days here even though it has been raining. I'm ready for the Detroit reign and the Detroit rain to end. And I really do not want to have to come back here for a Game 5. But if we have to come back, we'll come back. I'd rather head to Philly and hang out with the Bird and my USA teammates. I just hope we didn't wake up a sleeping giant in the Detroit Shock. They're going to come to Phoenix and be ready to go. Without a doubt. And we just have to concentrate on each other, what's gotten us to this point and what has made us so successful.
So we have tonight to relax, which I'll do as soon as I finish up writing this Blog, actually :). We're not leaving to go home until tomorrow, so we'll hang out, grab some dinner and rest up. That's the nice thing about early games is that we get to take care of business early and then have the night to ourselves. I'm ready to go home and sleep in my bed and in my home, what I call the "Cluttered Cluster." I like it messy. The clutter makes me feel comfortable. Even though I have a maid who comes in once a week.
I didn't sleep so well last night. Actually, I don't think I slept much at all. Whenever you play a game like I did last night, you find yourself replaying it over in your mind, remembering things that you did wrong and the things that did work. So I was up until like 4:30, lying in bed, staring at the ceiling.
Even though I didn't sleep much, I feel great. I got plenty of rest. Rest is a state of mind and sleep is the cousin of death, so I guess I'll sleep when I'm dead.
But we're not dead yet. This was just one game. This isn't the NCAA Tournament where you lose one game and you start crying. This is a long series that will see adjustments, corrections and us responding the next day and proving that we're meant to be here. So that's the plan for Saturday.
Last night was a tough game, but like the great Ashley Valley said, "you can't cry now, the milk already spilled. There's milk on the floor, but you just have to clean it up." So we'll be ready to play.
We didn't go too hard today, just went over a few things in practice and broke a sweat. We also did some film work, nothing too serious. There will be adjustments that we'll make on zone adjustments and shifts that we're going to make a little bit better.
After practice, we came back to the hotel and are chilling out. I'll probably go shopping a little bit later, hit up Neiman Marcus and Saks. Shopping therapy is always good after a loss. You know I'm a t-shirt freak. Nice Collective, Hub Clothing, Huey, Juicy... I like doing it on my own or with teammates. It's not like I have a personal shopper, though having Jen Lacy around so I don't need one. And shopping in Detroit is good because it gives you something to do. There's not much else... you can't sit in the hotel all day.
Swin also invited me over to her house today. She's having a little barbeque with her family, cooking and watching opening night of the football season. So that'll be nice. Colts and Saints. So I might check that out and get to hang out with Swin away from the game. Then tomorrow we practice again and just lay low. Get a movie at the hotel or go see "Ball of Fury," the new ping pong movie. You know I love me my table tennis. And you know I finished with like a 102-3 record in Russia, so don't go thinking you're better than me, I know you've said that before. I'm unstoppable.
Oh, so our team has a thing that we're doing, all wearing black nail polish. It's to go along with our whole "Fade to Black" theme. We're trying to fade into black this year and win it all. Actually, I always do black and everyone decided to copy me. But you won't see it on me unless you know where to look. The people probably won't see it on television, but I'm wearing the black nail polish on my toes right now. My toes were done by Jing Ling on Scottsdale and Camelback. She's an amazing woman. Believe it or not, I see her about every other week. I don't really like the stuff on my fingers, though. It's too distracting when I'm playing. I just take care of them myself. I have clean hands.
Sue, good luck in practice tomorrow. That should be fun.
So we made it to Detroit finally. Nothing like a five-hour flight and an hour-and-a-half bus ride the day before a game, but hey, thats basketball. We didnt even check into the hotel when we got here. We went straight from the airport to the Palace. We got there around 6:20 ET too bad we were supposed to be there for media at 5:30. Oh well. Got to catch Nancy Lieberman shooting around as we walked onto the floor, shes still got the stroke. Linda Cohn was shooting too, but we wont talk about that.
We met with the media and answered a lot of questions about our style of play and what will happen if the fast break slows down and we have to play in the half court. But I think weve learned to win games like that this year. No matter what, the last four minutes of the game, we want to take care of possessions, too. If there are two or three minutes left, we can slow it down and go to stuff that were good at, which really means us just getting out of Cappies way.
But we cant change the way we play now that were in the Finals. Thats what got us here. They play the way they play, and we play the way we play, so its going to come down to who can control the pace.
I'm guessing you heard about Catch by now? I just heard about her tearing her Achilles and needing surgery. All I could say when I heard it was wow. I was stunned. Especially because on that play it really didnt seem like much happened, but I guess thats how it happens sometimes. But you knew it was serious because you never see her cry or stay down. Even on that play she was still trying to call timeout. Then she tried to go back out there for the jump ball. I was like, Shes a monster! Going to Chile for USA Basketball without Catch is going to be tough.
So, who do you have in this series? I know you picked us to win after we knocked you out so I hope you're sticking with it... I know Detroit beat us both times we played this season, but that was like a month and a half ago. The game at home we played without Cappie and we lost that game in the last 20 seconds. The game here in Detroit, we played a good first half and then the second half they just went off and had an amazing game.
I dont think we were half as good back then as we are now. Weve put it all together. Our mindset has changed tremendously. After we got back from All-Star, we got together in the locker room and realized that this season is really up to what we want to do with it. We have some strong individuals and some strong personalities that had to mesh, and once they did that the things on the court started working out.
We really dont worry much about how we played them a couple months ago. Theyre a different team, were a different team. We cant concentrate on what they do. Theyre world champions for a reason and were trying to get there, but were going to try to go about it a different way.
You know in anything you do that you always want to play against the best. I think thats the only way you become a better player, a better team, so it seems right that were playing Detroit, because they are the most dominant team in the field.
Still, were coming in here to win just as much as they are. Were playing on the road, its the first time in the Finals for most of us and its definitely an experience for us, but once you throw that ball up, its 40 minutes of basketball. Were not going to be nervous. Were excited. If anything, were anxious to get the series underway.
Even though we havent been in the Finals before, we have people with a lot of experience. Kelly Miller has been in the playoffs three or four times, Tangela Smith went deep into the playoffs with Sacramento, Cappie played in big games when she was at Rutgers and Penny played with Australia in the Olympics. The big-game scenario isnt going to rattle us. We just have to go out there and play good basketball. Thats how you win games: by making plays and doing it for 40 minutes.
Weve got our work cut out for us, though. When you play Detroit, the boards are huge. Thats the first thing you think of about Detroit: theyre so big and they go after offensive and defensive rebounds like no other team in the league. Thats what makes them so hard to beat. Rebounding is kind of our Achilles heel, but when we do rebound well, we cause problems for other teams. Its going to be a test of our will against theirs.
And weve got to win at least one at their place. Weve won a couple road games in the playoffs and I think once you do it one time, it gives you a feeling that you can go into someone elses gym and be ultra-focused like we had to be to go into San Antonio and Seattle and win tough games. That gives us a little confidence now that we can come in here and win a game or two.
You know theres a certain feeling you get when you walk into a gym and theres 20,000 people rooting against you. How much do you want to win in that setting? I think thats when your true character really comes out.
So, youve been here before, what advice do you have for me in my first Finals? I was looking at what LeBron did this year in his first Finals. A lot of people said LeBron was shaky in the Finals, but I think he had a great series. He was poised. If there is one thing I can take from him is how poised he was, no matter what happened. Youre going to go through some difficult stuff when youre playing against the leagues best, but he kept his composure as well as Ive seen anyone do it.
Well enough about me and the Finals whats up with you? I know youre getting ready to train with USA Basketball. Youll be playing five-on-five at four oclock in the morning ooh wee yeah, I think Id rather be here trying to win a championship, which you have already. Swin has two already, so Swin doesnt need any more either. Really, Swin, how many is enough?
Did you see Ann playing on Monday for Indiana? She played really well. Swin was great Monday also, especially after not playing up to her potential in Game 2. You have to love Swins perseverance, but shes always been like that.
Swins mom is throwing a barbeque on Thursday and Ill be there. Wish you could be here for that. Anyway, have fun at USA training, say hi to everyone for me. Ill be here, eating at Mortons Steakhouse, trying to win a WNBA Championship. Im going to have dinner with Dan Orlovsky, my man from the Detroit Lions, hes a good friend from Connecticut. He used to jock me, but I never gave him the time of day. Hes a third-string quarterback in Detroit, but I liked the wide receivers.
We're ready to go. Finally settled in San Antonio with the big game tonight, but let me tell you something. The past 24 hours have been a major pain in my you-know-where... just a terrible travel day.
We met at 7 o'clock in the morning to go to the airport for a 9 a.m. flight. So we're on the plane looking around thinking, "Man, there's a lot of weird looking people on this plane. So when we land, we find out that San Antonio is hosting the Narcotics Anonymous annual convention and we are here with thousands of recovering addicts. I wish them the best.
So we arrived in San Antonio, but our bags didn't. Only about half the team's bags even showed up. Not mine, not Penny's, not Schuey's, not Corey Gaines'... it's a mess. We're bagless. We went to the gym anyway to meet with the media, but we couldn't practice. We didn't even have our shoes. I was thinking about what would happen if our uniforms didn't show up, maybe we'd play shirts and skins. Hey Sue, do you remember the one year at Connecticut when they lost our uniforms and we had to play a game on ESPN with our practice jerseys?
But my night didn't really get any better from that point. I end up falling asleep around 12:30 after a good dinner, deep REM mode there for a bit, only to be woken up at 2:30 by a knock on the door. It's the bellman with my bag, finally. So I'm happy it's here, but not happy to be awake. So I finally get back to sleep, but then my phone rings at 5 o'clock. It's my wake-up call that I had scheduled for 10 a.m. I tried to explain that I really wanted it five hours later. But then at 8:30, I hear drilling outside my door and find out that they're taking apart a door frame across the hall. Are you kidding me with this ruckus?
It's a good thing that I don't believe in omens. But I should have believed in Ambien.
So where are you again, fishing in Lake Minnetonka? No, Las Vegas will be nice. Have a good time with your dad. I've had an early vacation the last three years, so I won't say I'm jealous that you're relaxing and resting right now. I think I can suck it up for another two weeks and then come hang out with you.
We have Game 1 tonight against the Silver Stars. We're excited and ready but know it's going to be tough. They have been playing great basketball so we have to match that tonight. I'm not sure what people are saying or writing about at this point because this us the first year where I haven't read anything or paid attention at all to the web sites or anything like that. I'm just focused on one thing now, and that's winning. In the meantime, I'm just listening to my music hard night now. I've been concentrating on a couple of bands like Enigma, Massive Attack... a lot of trip-hop. I'm tripping and hopping everywhere. Just focused.
The beauty of our team is that we keep on sticking to what we do and don't really focus too much on the other team. If you spend too much time on the opponent, you forget to do what it is that you do well. Make sense? Coach reminds us what we've been doing all year and tells us to stick with it. If we're good enough to win, we will. If not, we'll go home. But I'm not ready for that.
Saturday afternoon, just landed and got back to Phoenix after a late night in Seattle. We had to be up early for the 9 o'clock bus, but there was no practice. We went to the airport, flew here, I stopped at Wendy's on my way home and now I'm in my house eating a taco salad. Wendy's taco salad is the best.
So you're probably wondering what I thought of the game last night. When we rebound, we do a pretty good job of getting out and running. We rebounded well last night and set the pace. That sets a tone of the game. You know, people talk about how we can put up big numbers and are so offensive-minded. But just because we give up a lot of point does not mean we're not a good defensive team. The way we play, there are going to be more shots and more opportunities for another team to score. At the fast tempo we like to go at, there are more possessions for both teams. But I don't think we care about being underappreciated on defense. We're not trying to get anyone's respect but our coaches, our teammates and our fans. We're confident in what we do.
Winning on the road was great for us because we went in, worked hard and just grinded it out. The mindset of our team is a good one. We treat every game the same and the playoffs are no different.
The Post-Game Meal
After the game, a bunch of us went to dinner, as you know since you were there... got some sushi. That's our go-to. But nice to see Ashley, Lauren, Barb Turner who was also in town... so that was nice. But it's cool that we don't have to talk about the game. The game is the game. I do everything in those 40 minutes, but once its over, I can't really do much to affect the game anymore so I don't even talk about it at all.
I know Coach Auriemma would be proud. I know he reads our blog and wants to get in a guest appearance on here. He's down at his beach house in the Jersey Shore and he got NBA TV there just so he could watch our game last night. I think the Auriemma family enjoyed watching all of the Huskies that were in attendance last night, though I know he was obviously rooting for you. It is no secret that he likes Sue Bird more than he likes Diana Taurasi. But I did get him more shine and he hasn't won since I left. The proof is in the pudding. He must look great right now, though, sporting a tan like the good ol' Mediterranean Sicilian that he is.
Excuse me for a second. I have a little bit of cheese stuck in my throat.
There, that's better.
Teams make adjustments in the playoffs. That's what happens. I expect you guys to come back out and give us another hard game. The Seattle Storm are still a dangerous team. We just have to be ready for those adjustments and guard against your desperation. We'll make some adjustments, too, of course.
This series is far from over. That's why it's a three-game series and we still have a lot of work to do. I haven't been able to watch any other games in the postseason so far because of our practice and travel schedule, but I know that every team that won the first game then lost Game Two today and those series are tied. That's a lesson for us right there. And with all the lopsided scores, I will just say that it's tough when you travel, it's tough to play your best but on any given night, any team can win. That's why this league is so exciting.
We're about 24 hours away from Game Two, it's an afternoon game here in Phoenix, but that doesn't really affect the routine at all. We still have shootaround in the morning, we'll get to the gym, rest up, take a nap and just get to the arena a little bit earlier. Tonight for the rest of the night I'm just going to chill. I might have some family coming into town tonight or tomorrow morning so I'm just going to shut it down a bit, watch some television, read up some of the other players' blogs and chill.
I thought about seeing Superbad, the new movie, because one of my teammates saw it and gave it rave reviews. It's a bit raunchy (which is my middle name) and not for kids, but we gotta wait to watch it on DVD. I'll wait for you if you wait for me.
One + One + One = Three?
We have a great staff, from selling tickets and energizing the city to making sure we're taken care of. Every staff member is a part of the Phoenix Mercury and the Phoenix Suns and we all take pride in that. We traveled with a banner that demonstrates their appreciation for us and it has become our mission. One city, one team, one goal. It was great to have it in the lockerroom in Seattle and gave us a bit of a home feeling on the road.
Someone actually told me something that was quite perceptive. One city, one team, one goal. One plus one plus one equals three. And that's pretty self-explanatory - three being a special number for me. But I don't think that was by design to fire me up. It was probably designed to mean one plus one plus one equals one. One championship. Lol.
And ultimately... one goal, one life, one death. That still equals three. I like it.
Monday night, four days until the first game... I've been waiting all weekend to write this baby.
Isn't it destiny that this is the matchup after we've been blogging like this all year long? But I'm excited for it. Our whole team is really excited. Four years of no Playoffs and we finally broke through this year. We're going in playing well, too, so that's what I'm most excited about. And this is what fans wanted, right?
There are a lot of good individual matchups in our series, don't you think? With any series, you know what you're going to get out of the starters, which is why I think the bench is so important. That's why we've been playing so well, because my teammates off the bench have really been productive. I think that's actually going to be the key to our series. Both team have good people in those roles... I like our chances with Mazzante, Snell and Schumacher. Our bench is pretty strong.
To win, we're going to have to play our best basketball. Having won at other levels, I know that it's the teams that really go out there and take the game from the first minute to the 40th minute. That's what we're going to have to do to beat you. I'm not falling for the whole 1-4 seed thing or the difference in records. Please. The Seattle Storm are a championship team that still has been there and won it. You've done it. It's fair to say we've been in a lot of big things in my basketball career. Final Fours, USA Basketball, All-Star Games... but this is the biggest thing we've ever gone against each other in, I think.
Keeping It Real
Today we had the day off and I just did some chores around the house. I made myself unreachable, laid around the house, did my laundry, washed the dishes and just scrubbed down my dinner table. Keeps me busy. Tomorrow we have practice and then get into Seattle on Thursday early afternoon. We may actually practice early in the morning here. I know it's going to be exciting for everyone involved. It's going to be intense in Seattle, I'm sure, because you have a great crowd. I think the last game we played in Sacramento was probably the closest playoff atmosphere I've been in since I got to this league so this will be different.
So I know this is the playoffs and we're fighting to win championship, but we should still get together, get some sushi. I do want to see you and Lauren and Ashley Robinson, my old old friend since 8th grade. People kept asking me too if we'd rather play another team since we did lose a couple of times to the Storm already, but you know what? Not really because to me, you guys are amazing basketball players. I always feel like to win a championship, you have to go through the best. We have a lot of respect for the Seattle Storm. We know we'll have to play really well to win.
Let Our Play Do The Talking
People are going to expect the smack, the trash talk this week. You know what, though. We really don't trash talk that much. You don't really talk that much on the court at all. The last time we played you in Seattle, I tried to talk to you and you wouldn't give me the time of day so I'm done talking to you on the court. But I don't really talk that much smack. People think I do, but I don't. I only talk to my teammates, never the other team. I will say I'm a little loud on the court, but I think I'm really just misunderstood. Lol. I'm just having fun. This is basketball. It's a game. If you can't have fun playing, then you shouldn't be out there.
It's funny how this all plays out. We spend so much time together and probably even more time talking when we're not together. Teammates and opponents. If I had a choice, I'd obviously rather play on your team than against you. I'm not at all ashamed to say that Sue Bird is an amazing basketball player and really does know the game better than anyone I know. I've learned a lot from you on the court. But it is fun playing against you because you are such a competitor. Beating you is fun, too, when we can. Keep playing hard and keep wanting to win because you are my hero, Sue Bird.
Oh, and I hope you got your Sidekick working again. That's always a good excuse for not calling people back.
Well obviously I want us to win. That's for sure. But I see this as a very competitive series. Every game will be close. The team that makes the most plays is obviously going to win. I say Mercury in three... our fans deserve to see as many playoff games as they can since they haven't done so in nine years or something like that.
We played Sacramento yesterday and the game obviously didn't mean anything from a standings perspective or seeds, but our fans were so appreciative and had a sellout. It felt so good going into the playoffs knowing that we have their support. The city of Phoenix just loves basketball, so let's give them a good show.
I realize it has been like years since I last wrote and that's my fault. Starting now, you're going to get daily updates. No, not daily, hourly. At the very least, weekly. Or monthly. Either way, I'm on board. But this Blog is going to be amazing because we have so much to catch up on. We've been on the road for the past ten days, which hasn't been easy. But thanks to my teammate, Kelly Mazzante, for keeping everyone informed during our road trip. Have you been reading?
Since I last wrote, we actually clinched a spot in the Playoffs. That's a big achievement for our team. We still have five or six games to go, which is always interesting when you clinch this early. But I'd rather be in this position than where we were in the last three years where it comes down to another team winning or losing. I'm happy for what we have done, but this is truly just the tip of the iceberg for us. Home court is now the goal and it really is so important. It's so hard to win in Sacramento, Seattle and San Antonio so whichever team gets the homecourt advantage really does have... the advantage.
Even though we've clinched, I wouldn't say the pressure is off of us. Yes, there was that monkey on our backs that we hadn't made the Playoffs, but eight teams make the Playoffs. Going deep into the postseason is something that is definitely in our sites and pretty realistic. This team is talented enough to make a lot of noise. If things finished right now as is, we'd play you guys. Phoenix vs. Seattle in the first round. But do I care who we play? Nah. Whatever team it is, it is. We can't really be concetrating too much on anyone else at this point. We want to finish the season strong and be playing our best basketball as the season ends. I'm sure it's the same for you guys. And if it happens, we'll have more to write about.
Home Sweet Home
We are currently in Los Angeles where the X-Games are wrapping up. I'm not sure how they got all of the dirt out of Staples Center, but I was just there for shootaround and you would never know the difference (unlike going into an arena after the circus has just left town). I actually used to go to the X-Games when I lived out here when I was in high school. Did you see the skateboarder who fell and his shoes popped off? That was some crazy shi... stuff. Those guys are amazing.
L.A. is where I grew up, you know. Last night I went back to Chino and spent the night in my house and got to see my family. It's nice being back in familiar territory. It's no Syosset, but it's still fun. You have that bagel place but we have the best donuts in the world. Oooh. Mama's Donuts. Mama's Donuts will knock anything else out of the ballpark when it comes to breakfast. Aww yeah. It's the bomb. They had this sugared donut that I grew up on. We used to hang out at this place all the time because it was open 24 hours. Nothing beats a donut at 2 a.m.
Speaking of donuts, I have NOT seen the Simpson's movie so everyone needs to stop talking about it. I heard it's funny and I'm a big fan, but we know that's what Russia is for. Rome second season just came out today and I'm going to go buy that and put it away, I'm also going to get Big Love and then I'll be ready to go overseas. In four months. Maybe I'll go early. It's always good to show up to work early and they do pay me a lot of money so I have to go.
Also in L.A... It's Beckham Mania! I love that guy. He's doing great things for the sport even if he hasn't played much yet. People here love not only the sport, but also how big of a celebrity you are and that's what it's all about. He has made such a big impact already. Look at the coverage soccer is getting!
What It's All About: The Stats
I was driving down Rodeo Drive with Ilene from Nike, Lindsay Kawaggga and Cappie when I heard that I was Player of the Week. It was a big moment in my life. Do you get a trophy for Player of the Week? It's nice, though.
I do think Lauren has the scoring race wrapped up. Scoring and putting up big numbers just happens when you get into a groove. It's something I don't even think about and it just happens. At least that was what happened when I won it last year. I was in such a zone, and that's what Lauren has been in all year long. Someone told me I'd need to average 52 points per game over the last two weeks to win it. I could probably do it if they don't foul me out. 50 is definitely realistic. I know you led the league in assists a couple of times, but leading the league in scoring is much tougher. If I concentrated 40 minutes on passing the ball, I could easily get five assists. Actually, passing is a lost art in this league, something that only a few like you, Lindsay Whalen, Ticha and a few others do well.
At this point, though, the scoring title means absolutely nothing to me. It was fool's gold for me last year and I realize that if it takes an individual that much work, the team may not be better for it. The thing about our team this season is that we have all five starters averaging in double figures. I don't know when that has happened in the WNBA, but it can't be too often. I'll tell you what, though. I am averaging a career-best in blocks per game. That's something I've always tried to do in college. I'll bet I'm like Top Ten all time in blocks at UConn. I used to foul out a lot and Coach Auriemma used to hate it. I just like to play aggressive and this year I've just found myself in some good spots. And I'm bringing them down. I block shots like Dikembe Mutombo.
Things To Close With
I've been busy these past few days with Shark Week. Is there anything better? I've been watching since I was in Fourth Grade. Amazing stuff. I was talking to my brother-in-law last night about swimming with sharks. I want to do it. You can actually go shark diving in San Diego where you go down 35 feet and swim with great whites. That's a rush that I would love to do. They're just sharks. I'm a person. Actually, I probably won't be doing it anytime soon.
I see you're back on track, playing well again. Every time you see us, you have a heck of a game. 111 points on Sunday against us. Thanks for that. How come no one brings up the fact that you gave up 101 points, though? Lol. You won the game, but what's the difference if you win 51-50? I guess people do like the scoring. It's what the league needs more of. I think the league has made some good rule changes and it's paying off and we're seeing things go in the right direction. And I will serve on the Competition Committee, if called upon. If anyone's listening or reading...
I was also reading that Sheryl and Tina are considering retiring. We'll see. I'm telling you, the minute Sheryl is healthy, she is one of the best players in the world. Hands down. I see her going out with a good year. Tina, too.
The ponytail... I might still pull it out for the Playoffs. Why not? I'll just throw that out there. It's something that the people want. I know you also want a guest blogger. Penny's in her room right now, so another time.
So I have some friends coming into town later this week to hang out and I'm just excited to see a lot of friends and family at the game who I haven't seen in awhile. I'll see you down the road, too, at some point. Maybe sooner rather than later. Until then...
P.S. - Remember you have to call Bed about our vacay. Special plans. Gonna be huge...
The 2007 WNBA All-Star is in the books. What a fun game. If you want some analysis, we had a good first half, played hard and got into a rhythm. In the second half, we came out a little flat and missed a lot of open jumpers. The East made a little run and we couldn't catch up all the way. It was like a real game. Looking back at the stat sheet, it might have been free throws that did us in. In close games, free throws really dictate whether you win or lose and today we missed a bunch and that was our doing.
That's enough analysis. It's not like I'm trying out
Now it's back to work. Tomorrow morning I'm flying back to Phoenix and guess who's coming to town... The Seattle Storm and their hobbled leader, Sue Bird. I know you're coming and cannot play on Tuesday night, but it will be good to see you. It's a huge game for us. But then after the game I hope you'll join me to participate in that event we talked about before.
We're going to Majerle's for a fundraiser. But this is a good one. Majerle's is a restaurant/nightclub and all the money is going towards renovating a Latin American and spanish-speaking learning center out in Guadalupe. Nike's putting some money in, the WNBA is putting some money into it and I hope we'll raise a lot of money. Cappie is coming, too, so we should also invite Lauren just so it's fair.
So you are coming. I have you booked. And if you don't, you'll be 0-for-2 in terms of committments to me because you didn't come to my clinic last year in Connecticut. So I guess I don't have to write that much more to you since I'll see you in a few days. Looking forward to it. Now get better, kid.
Sue, I tried to call you at 9:30 this morning but you did not pick up. I realize that was 6:30 your time. Where were you? Just got to the lockerroom and getting dressed and had a few minutes of downtime before it REALLY starts to get crazy. Looking around, I'm just in awe of the talented players around me.
Just to catch up to this point, last night was that Welcome Party. AOL got involved and it was a really cool event. We also got to see Vanessa Carlton perform, so it was awesome.
We are now getting ready to play the Eastern Conference. I look around and this is a focused group. Everyone is really in-tune to what is going on right now. Taj is texting. Cappie is texting. Becky is texting. Kara is texting. I think they are texting plays back and forth to each other, actually. Kara is also eating some chicken right now for some protein.
Sophia is over there really concentrating. She flew in late last night and was pretty jet-lagged. But she is ready to go. I think we're all ready to go. Lauren is getting ready to go warm-up. Or go to the bathroom. I'm not sure where she is going actually. The energy is just pouring out of this lockerroom. Pouring. It's electric.
No tricks tonight, I'm thinking. Tricks are overrated. I like treats better than tricks. Speaking of Halloween, we're in the orange and black jerseys again this year. It's like a whole theme. I like Halloween during the summer.
Speaking of candy, I'm chewing this new gum that Penny gave me that tastes like those candy apples. I always chew gum during the game, but I don't chomp as loud as Becky. You can hear her teeth clacking around the arena.
So final prediction: 123-119 West. And then it's going to be down to me and Penny in the 3-point shootout. We're taking on everyone.
Thinking about you, Little Birdy. Spread your wings and fly. Til you hit the sky.
So we are about to head to practice now and things have been hectic since I last wrote. Last night was really low key. I had a great three-pound lobster at Capital Grille and a great bottle of pinot noir.
This morning we had the always-fun player personnel meeting where the league comes in and tells us all the things we are doing and not doing over the next few days. We also signed a lot of balls for the charity auction and sponsors and other VIPs. All of the All-Stars do it, so I forged your signature on the balls, too, so you don't feel left out. After that, we all went to the Be Tour and got to play around with some of the fans, which is always fun. I also got to work on my 3-point shooting for tomorrow's competition. They had a few racks there and I got some practice in, so hopefully I'll perform a little bit better than I did last year.
So here we are. And by we I mean me because you're not here. All-Star 2007.
I actually arrived here early this morning, taking the redeye from Phoenix here to DC. Penny and Cappie actually took an earlier flight and got in last night, but I just wanted to spend an extra day in Phoenix to relax, chill out, sleep in, so I did that. Being difficult is in my nature, I guess.
But it ended up biting me in the butt because it was a loooong flight last night. We stopped over in Vegas and stayed there for about an hour and a half. I kept myself busy with the Wheel-Of-Fortune slots. The lady there, Sharri, told me that the very machine I played paid out $4.2 million, but not for me last night. Not this time, Sue, it didn't happen.
The whole weekend, as you know, is just going to be about the fun. You'll hear everyone say it, but it's true. You get to be around a lot of people you don't get to hang out with casually that often because you play against them all year and don't always communicate and fraternize with the enemy.
You know what, though. It's not going to be the same here without you. It's crazy. Every thing I have done since I've graduated has been with Sue, whether All-Stars, USA Basketball and the Olympics, going overseas, so you've kind of mentored me. Now it's my time to shine! Just kidding. It's going to be sad without you here. We always have a good time. And for the fans to not be able to watch you play, they voted you in, and it's sad.
We're trying to come up with a little something special so you know that you're missed. I'm not sure what it will be yet, but maybe we'll all wear those harmonicas on our head to honor your Jewish heritage. Or we could do those curly sideburns. What do you think? I just don't want to get fined. I was going to wear your special shoes, but they didn't bring them in my size. Size 12, baby. Big feet, big socks.
I'm about to do the media circuit, which means a lot of pictures and interviews. You're actually lucky you're not going to be here for that, but then it's on to this luncheon with Condoleezza Rice. I have a funny story about her, too. Two years ago, we went to the White House for a Reading event and met her. But I kept calling her Ms. Leeza because I thought her name was Condi Leeza. So for twenty minutes, I kept calling her that. But I will redeem myself today and call her by the right name.
While I have my computer still on... I just got a call from the league and I've been voted in by the fans to start in the All-Star Game! It's great. Fan support has been great and they have always been awesome to me. This year has been no different.
I heard that I got voted in as a forward, which is funny to me. How does that make any sense? The voting is always funny because so many people play different positions. But at least I get to play with you. You're always going to get voted in. No surprise that you're the leading vote-getter, and I came in second. I'm sure it was not very close, either. I think your levels of votes are unattainable, though. I'll never surpass you because as many people as there are that vote for me, there are a lot of people who don't like me. That's the way I live.
No one dislikes Sue Bird. That's the key.
I'm just looking forward to hanging out with everyone. It's cool to see everyone and be on the same court as everyone we usually play against. We always have a good time at All-Star, though some people take it so serious. I don't. I just like to entertain the fans.
I'm not sure if I'll try to dunk again like I did last year or other tricks up my sleeve. If it wasn't the fourth quarter, I think I could have put it down. My legs were tired. It was a long game. I dunked all the time in college. When I was skinny. With a volleyball.
And I don't know who's throwing the parties next year, but I hope I get an invite. I don't make the plans. I hate being in charge of that stuff. I'm a freeloader. Or maybe we'll just find a quiet place and chill out with a few people. Lay low. I've done the big party thing and I'm over it. Let the game be the party. Everyone's invited.
Hey, make sure you call Bab (which is Bob with a really bad accent) to get Hawaii set up.
Hey Stranger, Sorry it has been so long since I last wrote, but I have been, shall we say, out of commission for a little while. First game back is tonight. A week off is always good, but there is nothing worse than having to sit back and watch your team play without you. I couldn't even be in the gym. I watched the first game at my house on the computer and the second in Houston back at the hotel on my computer. Both ended up being good games for us, but it's terrible being so close to the action and not getting to be a part of it.
I'm not looking to try and do too much tonight. No 50-point guarantees or anything like that. We're just trying to get a win. We're on a little bit of a roll, playing well and just trying to keep that going. I have to give love you my girl Penny for the way she's been playing. Killing. I'm just trying to fit in.
I was able to keep busy last week by putting on the first of these clinics that we'll be holding for kids in the Phoenix area. 25 kids. Along with some of my coaches, we had a bunch of people come out... Kelly Schumacher, Mandisa Stevenson... so it was cool. We put together a three-session camp. Usually when you do these camps, you don't get to see the girls again, so this was different. It's fun working with kids. It's great when you see the different levels they're at - some are really good and others are playing for the first time. We'll did drills and some games and all the money is going towards a new learning center in the area, so it was all for a good cause, too!
So I'm in Minnesota now getting ready for tonight's game. I'm in my hotel room watching Wimbledon, though it could start raining at any moment. They know it's going to rain like this every year, yet they keep doing it. I love tennis, though. I've been watching since I was a little kid. On the men's side, I like Nadal and Roddick. But my all-time favorite player is Gabriela Sabatini. She's from Argentina and had that big old mullet and was like the first women to use the big racket. She had an oversized hairdo and an oversized racket. She was great, our pride and joy, but I think she only won like one major.
Anyhow, big game tonight, glad to be back and thanks, Sue, for being there to talk and listen. Also, thanks to the fans for their ongoing support...
For the Fourth...
We're actually heading back to Phoenix tomorrow for the holiday. It's been hot. Like 118 degrees hot. It takes like five minutes for the car to cool down, and by then, we're already at the gym. It's swletering hot. I shower three to four times a day. It's gross.
We're having a big potluck barbeque kind of thing. We don't do contests like you do for your meals, though. I just hope there is ping pong there so I can show my teammates a thing or two. I dominate, as you well know.
It is amazing to me that you have a poll for bowling scores. I had the best score of the year. That's all that counts! I had the highest score and you never came close. I specifically said before we started that high score wins tonight. High score. Not head-to-head or any other garbage. Once I get my high score, I get bored because I've already conquered the game.
There are no sports that you are better than me at. I killed you in ping pong, it's not even close. I know you played high school soccer, but I was amazing growing up - look at my family. It's in my blood. Give me three months and I could make the U.S. National Soccer Team. And I killed you in tennis in the Bahamas that time, even though it was raining and we might not have been in the best "shape." Like Wimbledon.
Just chilling sitting here in my hotel room in Washington, or Maryland to be more precise, for a game tonight against the Mystics. Had no shootaround this morning because yesterday was a disaster of travel coming from Phoenix. Apparently it's raining everywhere. We circled over D.C. for two hours before landing in North Carolina to refuel, sit there for another hour and then flew to Washington. I just slept to stay calm. I also watched two pretty good movies on my computer, The Illusionist, which was okay, and Notes on a Scandal, which was good. I love me my Cate Blanchett movies.
So yeah, the whole ponytail thing fell through, didn't it? But Minnesota got a win in that game, their first win, so I guess I can take a little pride in helping them with that. I just had a three-game stretch there where, individually, I don't know what it was. But I had nothing to give. Stuff happens where your body and mind just don't work together. But I'm better now after my weeklong slump and I'm ready to go. We've won two in a row and getting set to play a good Mystics team that somehow has not yet won a game. Last time I called the Lynx the best 0-7 team I'd ever seen. Well this is the best 0-8 team, that's for sure. Alana Beard, DeLisha Milton-Jones, Monique Currie... they have some really good players.
On a traditional day, we have shootaround, but since we got in so late last night, all we did this morning was watch film and went over their plays, players and preferences. I just ordered some room service and been watching ESPN all morning. I'm getting the Finals analysis since I didn't get to watch the game last night. Then I'll take a nap and start getting ready. I have no roommate on the road this season, though I was with Ashley Robinson my first two years. That was easy. I've had some difficult roommates, that's for sure. Like you. You were pretty bad, always having to shower first, always taking the better bed. It was impossible rooming with you on the road.
Room service real quick. Give me a second.
I'm back. Got some crab soup and a steak salad. How unappetizing does that sound? But it's gooood. So onto the big stories... I feel like a newscaster. PANDA WATCH!
Good Luck, Chamique
You know what? If she's happy, I don't see a problem with what she's doing. When a doctor or lawyer retires, they don't have to give a million answers why they are retiring. They are tired of doing something or they're no longer getting happiness out of doing it. This is America. You can retire or quit whenever you want. So if she's happy and this is the decision she wanted to make, I'm all for it. I don't know if her owners and teammates feel the same way. As a player and someone who can appreciate situations where you might not feel comfortable, if this is her time to go, I wish her the best.
What else is happening? Everyone's talking about the Sopranos. I didn't see it. I don't think you did, either. I'm so far behind, like still on Season Two. So we can just get the DVDs and wait for Russia to catch up.
I also read that Tennessee and UConn aren't playing anymore, and all I can say is that is some bullsh**. Can I put this in the blog? No one will mind if I do it every once in awhile for dramatic effect. If Matt Wurst and his people get fined, I'll pay the fine. I want to be the first person to ever say the word "sh** on WNBA.com (Sorry, but the editor says no chance).
Anyway, this game being cancelled is a good example of what's wrong with women's sports. People don't think big picture. This is a petty decision that has far-reaching effects, don't you think? This was going to be the first year when ESPN and College GameDay was going to actually go and do their show from the game. That's such a big step for our sport. And for them to take this away from women, all of us who have worked so hard to get this respect... People always say the players should think about the people who came before us and the people who will come after us. But what about people in other positions? They should do the same thing. Whoever decided this is very selfish and made a bad move.
This was up there as one of the best rivalries in all of sports. Yankees-Red Sox, Duke-UNC. It was talked about in that regard. We should all do a little soul-searching after that. But we're UConn, so we'll find another school to play and start a new rivalry.
Also in the news, the Gaza Strip is going crazy. That's my expert political analysis. It's really too bad because Israel was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I know you are now an Israeli citizen, too. That's your homeland! I think they could get so much money on tourism if they made it safer there.
How's that knee doing? You look very Morgan Valley-ish in that knee brace. And I mean that as a compliment. You look very stealth.
I've had freak injuries like that. In college one time, I hurt myself stretching before a game against South Florida. I must have twisted my ankle or something and it got all swollen. I couldn't explain it either. But you're one of the toughest people I know, so I don't think you're faking this...
So I told you the Spurs were going to kill the Cavs. That's not even a challenge. I predicted Spurs in five. So Cleveland will win the next one, but then it's over.
Not to burst your bubble or anything, but I was re-reading what you last wrote, and I'm not getting rims for my Range Rover. I've done a little bit of modifications. I drive from L.A. to Phoenix a lot and they say once you put the rims on, it drives different. I like the way it drives. It's smooth like a sports car. So I might not do it after all. I'll leave that to the young kids. I don't get people who put DVD players in their backseats. What a waste. Who has parties in their car? Actually, now we're talking...
I also just heard that the WNBA people are meeting with Olive Garden this week to get them as a new sponsor or partner. Didn't we always used to go there on road trips? People won't believe me if I say this but as an Italian, Olive Garden can always be counted on as a solid meal the night before big games. I have probably been in an Olive Garden in 35 out of 50 states. They should hook me up with a gift card or something. I wish they had Olive Gardens in Russia. That would have helped.
Oh, and I finally stopped getting called out by the WNBA for having my shorts too long. I got them hemmed. So now the WNBA won't be getting anymore of my paycheck.
In Washington, So I Should Vote
I should go right to our web site and vote because I think I have my starting five down for each conference. We should compare...
In the west, my starting point guard is... Helen Darling. No, just kidding, it's you. How about Sue Bird with the championship performance last night in Chicago? 13 points, 11 assists and two rebounds. Nice! Then Cappie Pondexter as the other guard and Penny Taylor as my starting forward. Or Tina Thompson. She is only averaging like 19 and seven. She shouldn't be on because she's on a struggling team? Come on. What more can she do? Is LJ listed as a center? Or a forward? I should really check these before doing this. Oh well. If not, my center is Taj McWilliams-Franklin. All I know is that I don't deserve to be an All-Star right now. I've been sucking.
The East.. I'm going with Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan as my guards. They should start, definitely. I'll go with Catchings as my three. I do want to throw a Liberty player in since they're playing so well. Maybe Cathrine Kraayeveld. I also think Loree Moore should be picked coming off the bench. I've known Loree since we were in like fourth grade playing against each other. We're from the same area. She has been playing amazing and is the nicest kid. If Cheryl Ford is a center, then her. But again, I have no idea how these positions are done. If not, then maybe Tammy Sutton-Brown. I just hope someone good doesn't get left out.
Wow. This may be the most I've ever written in my life. Your turn.
So right now I'm sitting here in your hometown, New York City, and we just lost again. When it rains it pours. And it's actually raining out right now. How do you like that metaphor or symbolism or whatever that is?
Today was the second half of back-to-backs against Connecticut and New York. I guess you can say things could have gone better for us after two losses in a row. But here I am, in your city, about to go to dinner with your friends at a restaurant that you actually recommended? Jealous?
Being back in Connecticut was cool, too. Same old, same old. It's four years later, so it's not really like it's the big homecoming that people make it out to be, right? But it's still exciting because we get to see friends from school and got to have dinner with Coach Auriemma. We started at his restaurant and then ended up at Michael Jordan's restaurant. I guess you can call that a step up.
New York, New York
They are a really good team. Expectations for them weren't so high before the season, but they are tough and fight hard and I definitely see them in playoff contention. I mean, they haven't lost yet so I'm not really going out on a limb or anything. I struggled after the first quarter and got into foul trouble, which took me out of my rhythym, I guess. Ashley Battle, our old teammate, was matched up against me. People ask if there's extra motivation when going against friends or former teammates, but it happens pretty much every game whether it's a UConn person or a USAB person. So I don't really think about it that way. Whenever AB is on me, we laugh and joke around during the game. I ask how her mom and aunts are. She played great tonight, I'll tell you that.
Last week you said I should be shooting more. But you know what? I'm okay. In the flow of the game, you get shots. If you make them, you keep shooting, if you miss, you keep shooting. But I don't care. I have great confidence in whoever has the ball down the stretch... Cappie, Penny, Kelly Ma, myself... we all have confidence in whoever is going to take that last shot. Tonight the ball ended up in Cappie's hand, she took a good shot and it didn't go in. Road trip over.
Today was also Dads and Daughters Day in New York. A few years ago, they invited my dad to New York for this game, which was awesome. But he didn't get the invite this year. You know what, though, it's cool. You got the daddies and the daughters. Daddy-Daughter Day. I like saying that. Daddy-Daughter. But what about Mother-Daughter Day? How come the moms get no love? And what about Mommy-Son Day? I think we should start a new thing next year for moms and sons. And it can be on Sundays. Mommy-Son Day Sunday.
Another cool thing they did today in New York was honor the Rutgers women's team that went to the Finals this year. I gave them some love coming out of a time out... you know... Big East and all. I'm over the whole rivalry thing. After beating them for so many years... people ask me, don't I hate these teams... Rutgers, Tennessee... but I love them. They gave us a lot of wins in college. So why would I hate them? And I cheer for Big East schools, obviously.
The Spurs Are Winning The NBA Finals
NBA Finals start this week now that the matchups are set. LeBron did play crazy last round, but I'm going with the Spurs in five. No doubt. The Spurs have big guys who can defend LeBron. You know, people keep asking who's going to defend LeBron, but who's going to defend Tim Duncan and Tony Parker? I just don't think that the Cavs match up well at all with the Spurs. People keep talking about the two regular season games, but I think people are crazy if they think Eric Snow can stop Tony Parker. He's going to go off. No one can contain Tony Parker. They're also going to have to double down on Tim and double Manu coming off the screen. There's just too many problems to worry about. The Spurs only concern is stopping LeBron. He'll probably get 58 points and 19 rebounds back in Cleveland in Game Three, but that will be their only win.
Letting Our Hair Down
So you want to talk about hair? I'm going to give the people reading this a little scoop... that you're getting a Japanese straightening perm. There it is... the cat's out of the bag. Want me to change things up, too? How about this... I'll wear a ponytail the next game. I'll do that to change things up a bit. So you heard it here first. How's that for more good scoop, WNBA.com!
Should I also tell the people about the baking contest that you lost? What was the story? Your team had a big pot-luck dinner and you made cookies that didn't go over too well? I heard it was terrible. I think you got last place, right? Did you cry after that, too? I've never cried on a basketball court. Actually, that's not true. I did once, after the game in St. Louis my freshman year at the Final Four.
So the road ahead... From here we're finally heading back home. We got Minnesota Tuesday, who is probably the scariest 0-6 team out there... then someone Thursday and someone Saturday. We'll figure that out when we get to it. But whoever it is, we have a tough few games of us after this two-game slip. You guys have lost two in a row, too, I think. We just have to pick it up a bit now at home. No panic yet. It happens over the course of a season, so you either have to work though it or keep losing games.
So here's the story. I think I just lost my cool. There were a couple of calls that I didn't agree with and I lost it a little bit. No big deal. Stuff happens and you move on. People are making a big deal out of it, like I killed someone, though this was the first time I've ever been ejected from a game. So I guess it was a long time coming, but it's not a big deal to me. Of course, it happens on the same day as me winning Player of the Week, but I don't really care. I was Player of the Week because I was Player of the Week.
I really was just happy our team won. That's the only thing I was concerned about. It didn't end up costing us anything as far as the game goes. I'm really happy with the way our team responded to the whole thing. We got
a good win against a very good team so that's all I was thinking about afterwards. So it is what it is. I'm not making a big deal out of it. I'm obviously not going to do it again for my teammates and the organization. That's not how I want to represent them.
Three Wins In a Row
People talk about the fact that we're 3-1 and in first place or other teams are 2-0 and playing great. You know what? It's a long season and we know that from our experience last year where we started 4-11 and were the worst in the league and we went on to win seven in a row and were one of the hottest teams at the end. This league is so up and down, so you can use this first week as a measuring stick, but it's way too early to really see where you're at.
Looking around the league over the first ten days or so, I think Houston going 0-3 is pretty interesting. You know that's going to change because the Comets are way too good to keep losing. But sometimes, and I know this well, it takes time to gel with a new coach. Sheryl and Tina will get them back on track. I think New York looks good at 2-0, but we'll see what happens throughout the year. There are a lot of quality teams in the league.
And after ten days... your M.V.P.... is Erin Thorn! Go Liberty. We'll see you on Sunday, New York!
So I got to throw out the first pitch at a Diamondbacks game over the weekend, which was really cool. It was my first time... so I guess I had a few firsts this week. I also had chicken wings named after me at Cooper's Town, Alice Cooper's place right across from the arena, and that's never happened before. Taurasi's Italian Chicken Wings. You're going to have to try them when you come to town next time. Though this is actually the second piece of food named after me, I think. There is a Taurasi pasta at Coach Auriemma's place at the Mohegan Sun. I'm delicious. I actually haven't tried it, though, so this weekend back in Connecticut will be a good opportunity to try it.
I am always excited for the Connecticut-New York road trip, which we have this weekend. It's like a little homecoming everytime. They all stay there and we're the ones who circle through. You know how fun those weekends can be... dinners with friends is always fun.
I got my new Sidekick last week, so thanks, Sue, for the whole hook-up. I'm actually on it right now. It's nice to be able to look at new phone. You know when you are looking at the same phone over and over again how boring it gets? This one has white paneling with a basketball on the back. It's pretty cool. It also has a bunch of 3's on it, and you know that's no coincidence. Well maybe it is. So now I think I have something good for you for your birthday, though I have some time. The thing with you, though, is that you really do have everything.
It's funny that you accuse me of carrying the ball because you are one of the worst at it I've ever seen coming off that pick-and-roll. You're just low to the ground, so it doesn't look as bad. When you're tall and you slightly carry it, it looks worse because you're elongated. You carry it just as much, but the little players get away with it.
I guess we really do argue about a lot of things. The thing is, we usually argue a lot more when we're together in person, but we're usually pretty civil over IM. So why are you trying to start with me? I guess that's the point of this blog, is to get uncivilized a bit. I think the most recent thing we've really gotten into it over is this whole Kobe Bryant thing. We actually argue about Kobe all the time, don't we? He's such a big part of our conversation so I wonder what's going to happen with him now in L.A.. I know he demanded it today and all, but I don't think he's really going to get traded.
But you know who we should be talking about? LeBron. He's a beast. One word. Beast. I love how everyone was talking smack about him after the first two games against the Pistons, he should have passed, he should have shot, whatever. But you know what? He's an amazing player. He's a superstar who had two bad games. And he's proven that he's a stud these past two games. He's just amazing. People who commentate on games and watch games, most of these people have never played the game at such a high level.
So people can criticize him all they want, but he's doing it right. And this is coming from someone who gets doubled and tripled all the time.
This is weird. I just talked to you like two minutes ago. Well, we instant messaged. We don't talk on the phone. We only IM. You know my rule. If you're not in the same state as I am in, don't call me because it's not even going to go through. There's just something about the phone that I really don't like. I think I may have a phone phobia, if there's such a thing. Should I talk to someone about that? Nah it's all good. But this should work out well. We can keep talking without really having to talk.
So where should we begin? Since we parted ways last week, I went straight to my sister's wedding before going on to Phoenix to meet up with my teammates. It was beautiful, looking out over the mountains of California. It was great. There were 200 people there, friends, family and a lot of people who I haven't seen in years. It was nice that we could all be together.
People have been asking me how I got my dress fitted since we flew back the night before the ceremony. When we were still in Russia, I actually went to the guy who made our uniforms, who is also a tailor. He took my measurements, I sent those to my sister and got fitted the night we flew back to L.A. I got fitted again the next morning and it was good to go. And you know what the name of the lady who made my dress was? Terry Cloth. I'm not joking.
I don't know about you, but I am totally jetlagged still. My time clock I have no idea where it's at. The other day, I was up at 2 o'clock in the morning even though I had set my alarm for 7 a.m. So I got up and drove out. It doesn't affect me on the court or really at all during the day, but when seven o'clock hits, I can't keep my eyes open. So every day I've been trying to go to bed a half hour later. Tonight I'm going to watch the Suns game and be all good.
Speaking of the Suns, I think they're going to take these next two games against the Spurs. I don't think what happened with Amare and Boris was very fair, I really don't. If anything, I think they showed good judgment and restraint. Boris took one step and went back, and Amare thought about it and went back because he's not dumb. And they got no credit for showing good judgment.
It's so hard being a celebrity. It's not easy. There's paparazzi everywhere. Everywhere we go eat, there's people taking pictures. I'm kidding. But I enjoy it, I have a good time with it. Whenever I go to dinner or the movies, people will ask for autographs and it makes you feel good. It's great that people are interested in basketball and yourself, so it makes me feel good.
The preseason we missed the whole thing. I want to say it's important if you're actually in it, but when so many people are missing it, it's not that important, am I right? I know your team is in the same boat, so if you go team-by-team, so many players are coming in late. It's disappointing, but that's the way it is. If anything, we're not worried about it because our teams are very much intact from last season, so if anything, we're okay with it. How are you guys getting along?
You know what I was just thinking about from Russia? That song "Take it Easy," by Mika. I think there are a lot of people who know that song. We listened to some really bad music over there.
By the way, I like what you did signing a new contract. You've given yourself some more leeway for next year. But it's not like you're going
It's funny. I am not always in a scoring mode. I wasn't born with a scorer's mentality by any means. The minute I get my stat sheet, the first two things I look at are turnovers and rebounds. Points are whatever to me. So if you ask me whether or not I'm going to win the scoring title, I am going to do it, but I don't care about it. At the very least, it's going to be someone in a Mercury jersey, but we're not sure who yet. But you know what people overlook? My assists. I was top five in assists, too, last season, which is pretty good.
Let's talk about the West, because that's where we are. Obviously we have to put Sacramento in there because they have so many veterans. I think they're going to be just as good with Coach Boucek. Next I'll pick you and Lauren and the Storm. I think this is going to be the comeback year. You played lousy last year, at least to your standards, so I think you're going to have a breakout year, I really do. Lauren is healthy, right, so I think it's going to be a really strong team. I'll also go with Houston. I think they're going to have a good year. We played with Tina (Thompson) in Russia and I haven't seen her play like that in years. So the fourth team will be the Phoenix Mercury. I really think we have a great cast of players this year and hopefully we can put it together. And who cares about the East, right?
So as we start this season tomorrow, I just wanted to wish you good luck. This is a crucial season for your career. I think it's time for you to take the next step and be the dominant player we know you can be. So just ball out. Ball like a dog.