Swoopes and Lennox Ready For Success

It is only the Tulsa Shock's second season in the WNBA, but seeing the team's first week of training camp, there is an obvious difference between this year and last. The way they play, the way they interact with one another, the way they communicate – this is not the same Shock team.

One major contributor to the dynamic change is the addition of two seasoned veterans, Betty Lennox and Sheryl Swoopes. After a successful career in the league, it may seem peculiar for the ladies to chose to come to a team in its second year, but both players confess Tulsa is the perfect place for them to be.

The decision was simple for Lennox, who is a native Oklahoman. Born in Oklahoma City and raised in Hugo, Lennox was drawn to the chance to finally have her biggest fan there to cheer her on.

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“My mom has never really had the opportunity to come and watch me play,” Lennox said. “So now, not only my mom, but my entire family can come out and watch me play every home game. I've been playing in other places for 11 years, and this is the end of my career and now I get the opportunity to play at home. It's exciting for me.”

Swoopes came to the WNBA during its inaugural season in 1997. But a back injury cut her 11th season short after only three games. Swoopes spent three years out of the league, but when the opportunity arose, she knew it was time to return to the game she loved.

“The time away allowed me to reflect on my basketball career and also think about what I want to do with my life when this is over with,” Swoopes said. “I made the decision to come back and I have never second-guessed it. I am thrilled to be here. I would not be doing this if I did not feel like I could still compete on this level.

“My age is 40, my body is not 40. I am not content with just being on the floor and going through the motions and saying, 'I can play three, four, maybe five minutes.' That's not why I am here. I am looking at this as my final opportunity to leave more of an impact on the game than just who I am and what I do on the basketball court.”

The pair brings a combined 22 years of WNBA experience to the team of six returning players and five rookies, and with that - experience, knowledge and wisdom they hope to share.

“I am one of those who have been around the block, and I can teach them the pros and the cons, the dos and the don'ts,” Lennox said. “I bring leadership to the team and I am always trying to build and keep their confidence up.”

And that leadership has been the key to the Shock becoming a well-rounded team.

“I think because they didn't have that leadership last year, that was huge part of why they didn't win very many games,” Swoopes said. “They didn't have a me or a Betty Lennox to tell them 'We are good.' and keep them focused and accountable.”

These veterans have a lot to give and just as much to prove coming to the Shock, but their focus is not on themselves; it is on playing together as a team and collectively having a successful season.

“We are excited to see everything we have practiced be put into play,” Lennox said.

They are not looking at their past or the Shock's past. Lennox and Swoopes have their sights set on a exciting, winning season.

“Regardless of what happened last year and how the season went, I could not think of a better place for me to go and fit in at this point in my career,” Swoopes said. “I am thrilled.”

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