Tina Charles on What It Really Means to Be Home Again

Better food mostly.

“They don’t really have Jamaican food in Connecticut,” said newly acquired New York Liberty center Tina Charles at a media event in the WNBA’s New York City office.

Charles, formerly of the Sun, is half-Trinidadian and half-Jamaican and grew up in Jamaica, Queens. And although she loves Jamaican food, what she really loves about calling New York City home are the options. “I’m pretty random,” she says of her tastes in not only food but also music and other pop culture indulgences. (“I like Jay Z, but one time Cappie [Pondexter] walked in on me listening to Frank Sinatra.”)

For a pregame meal, she might like to carb-load with something Italian, but her favorite cuisine is Chinese. And not to mention, she gets to enjoy a home-cooked meal as often as possible. The 2012 MVP, however, is likely not doing any of that cooking.

“Not when I have so many options here," she said. "More so when I'm overseas because, you know, it's like the Hunger Games out there.”

Charles, who has played in both Poland and Turkey was leery of the unidentifiable meat. “I cook chicken, mostly.”

Though she (like most of her peers) spends most of her time overseas, she never feels quite at home until she’s in New York. The biggest difference, she’s noticed, is the way the fans interact with the game of basketball.

“Overseas the fans go to the game to entertain themselves, not to actually watch the game," she said. "Fans will go to games to yell at the opposing team’s fans, but here, in New York for example, fans will go at the games to yell at the Knicks.”

But between the duration of her season overseas and the intensity of the WNBA, the 6-foot-4 center has very little time to rest. The world championships are coming up again this year where Tina will be reunited with her old college coach, the infamous Geno Auriemma, who also serves as the UConn coach and USA Basketball coach.

Luckily Geno knows exactly what he’s doing.

“Geno knows we're smart and that we’re professionals. He doesn't make us run around like 15 year olds,” she said, “but sometimes you just have to forget you have a body and keep going.”

If anyone can handle that intensity, though, it’s Tina Charles. And it’s really no secret that she’s in very, very good shape.

What’s her workout secret?

“I'm gonna be brutally honest… I have the best genes on my dad's side,” she said, but added “I mean I run and lift.” And, for those interested, Tina Charles does not do yoga.

“No I don’t do that,” she said succinctly.

Sometimes it’s probably a good thing to stick with what you know, and there’s no doubt that Charles knows good food and good basketball. And what better place for that than New York City?

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