Q&A with Teresa Edwards
Edwards is USA Basketball’s first and only American basketball player (male or female) to compete in five Olympics where she has won four golds and one bronze medal. She earned the distinct honor of being the youngest recipient of a women’s Olympic gold medal in 1984 and the oldest gold medalist in 2001. Team USA has compiled a record of 205-14 with Edwards on the roster. She was named the USA Basketball Player of the Year in 1987, 1990, 1996 and 2000 and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. She currently serves on the USA Basketball Board of Directors and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Board.
The University of Georgia (UGA) standout, Edwards is also an inductee in the UGA “Circle of Honor” and has had her number five jersey retired at the school.
Tulsa Shock: How do you react when people in the media and other basketball dignitaries call you the “most decorated women’s basketball player in history?”
Teresa Edwards: With MUCH respect for the media and a heart of gratitude to all the pioneers and dignitaries of the women's basketball world I simply say "thank you" and work hard one day at a time, being the best that I can be. I've never allowed myself to live through the media because I've been too busy making a world for myself through a game that I love with every fiber in me. However, flattering, I remain humble in my humanity. My only regret is I cannot continue to play and share this gift I was blessed with!
TS: How different was it for you going from a player in Minnesota to an assistant coach? What was the most difficult part of the transition? Easiest part of the transition?
TE: Transitioning into a coaching role from a player was a difficult task initially when I began in Minnesota. To the failure of my ability to adjust to this generation, I struggled to understand how to motivate others as to where they are today. Due to my level of success for the majority of my career, I was accustomed to "self-motivated competitors". I had no experience in coaching effort nor did I possess the patience. Coaching is very challenging and I must remain competitive to keep my edge yet more diligent in my understanding while teaching. I persevered as a player due to my willingness to adapt to changes, I will do the same as a coach in Tulsa.
TS: After being away from the league for the past two years, what made you want to come back?
TE: I'm a firm believer in fate. Getting back on a coaching staff right now for me is all about my self-belief in giving something of myself in hopes that it will help another somewhere along the way. Timing and opportunity also plays a vital role in making such a decision at this time in my life. I feel I'm in a valuable position working with General Manager and Head Coach Nolan Richardson. He is no doubt in my mind true HISTORY in this game and the community. I'm utilizing this opportunity to learn more of his courage as a human as well as his ability to successfully win championships from the sideline. He's a proven winner that's gone further than I have and for that reason alone, who he is speaks to the core of me with motivation.
TS: What are you expecting with your new role with the Shock and working with Coach Nolan Richardson?
TE: I know to expect EVERYTHING! This is a most exciting challenge because I'm hoping to share the world of women's basketball in Tulsa in such a way that we carve a new niche to excellence on and of the court. Knowing the little I know already, I will be expected to bring my absolute best and then some everyday. Coach Richardson has already set that standard and I will be honored to live up to it. I can feel his greatness over the phone, I've got to bring it all to the table in Tulsa!
TS: What are your thoughts on the current Shock team as it is constructed? TE: I bring no pre-concieved thoughts to the current team. I only want to provide positive attributes to the growth of the players, to remain confident in all that we as a staff will impart and see each and every player through a winning process that will carry them through life. "Goodness will show up whenever a person choose to be good but Greatness will take effort unbeknown to the average".
TS: With the second and seventh overall pick in the upcoming your draft, what are your hopes for Shock?
TE: The reality with this years draft is we are going to get some major talent. I'm excited that we will get to truly build out and flourish from some of these players. I feel Tulsa is in a position to make dreams come true for franchise players who are willing carry this wonderful opportunity forward. Ownership is dedicated and investing just as much sweat equity as the players and coaches are into this franchise. They are well connected and very accessible which allows for creativity to stream from various levels. My hopes for the Shock team in this draft is that we get competitors that are willing to learn but more importantly that we get players who aren't afraid to build their own empire. I would love to know that every Tulsa Shock player wears her pride in a way that says, "Tulsa is where I WANT to be!" because that is exactly how I feel.
TS: Assuming a successful draft and free agency period, what are your expectations for the Shock’s 2011 season on-the-court?
TE: My expectations at the moment are the ones I put on myself to be prepared. A greater me will be the example I will have to be if I expect the same from others. Coach Richardson has begun to chart this course and I intend to follow his lead. Because... Why play the game if you have no desire to be the absolute best? I expect to work towards a championship!