For Cash, All-Star Selection is Special
Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | July 14, 2009
After being voted to start the 2009 WNBA All-Star Game, Seattle Storm forward Swin Cash described herself as, "Just excited. I feel very blessed, honored to be back in the All-Star Game again."
Along with teammates Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, Cash was selected by fan vote to start for the Western Conference. While Bird and Jackson have been annual fixtures amongst the starters - Bird has been voted into every All-Star Game of her career, six and counting; Jackson has been picked to start the last four times after making her first three All-Star teams as a reserve - Cash's selection was somewhat more unexpected. She made her last All-Star team in 2005 while playing for the Detroit Shock and becomes the first Storm player besides Bird and Jackson to represent the team in All-Star competition.
The All-Star selection comes less than a week after Cash was picked for the Storm's All-Decade Team, and the support of fans in both votes touched her.
"It's kind of a shocker," Cash said. "First it was the All-Decade Team. When KB (Storm CEO Karen Bryant) told me, I was like, 'Huh?' because I've only been here a short time. When I got told today about making the All-Star team, same thing. The fans' support and appreciation, that's part of why we play this game - to give them a great experience with basketball and compete really hard.
"I appreciate their support over the years, even when I had issues with my back and health in general and not playing so well. You have your people who are going to criticize you, but then there are the loyal fans who have continued to e-mail me on my Web site and talk to me in the airport. For me, this is a great thing not only for my family and friends but also for the fans."
Cash has gone through a number of tests to get back to the All-Star Game. When she was voted a starter in the 2005 All-Star Game, Cash was still rehabbing from the torn ACL she suffered the previous season and returned just in time to play in that game, also played at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Arena. More recently, a back injury limited Cash's effectiveness.
Offseason surgery - and hours of work as part of the rehab process - has allowed a healthy Cash to play her best basketball in years. Her scoring average (12.5 ppg) and shooting percentage (.439) are both her best since 2004, when she was an MVP candidate. Cash has been even better recently, averaging 16.8 points and 7.5 rebounds in four July games.
"I put work in after my back surgery," she said. "Now to see that paying off, it really means a lot. That's why I'm so thankful for the people that helped me at (the University of) Kansas [where she rehabbed], my better half Chafie (Fields) and my family and friends. They've been with me when I wasn't doing anything and they understand how hard of a struggle it's been for me to get back on the court and play like I know I'm capable of playing.
"I guess the good part about this is I still don't feel like I'm where I need to be yet. I feel like there's room for improvement and I'm still getting better every single day. That, to me, is the beautiful part about it. I'm having fun just playing."
SEE THE STORM'S ALL-STARS
Now, she'll have fun at the All-Star Game, which will be played on ABC on July 25. For Cash as well as Bird, it will be a homecoming to the state where they starred at the University of Connecticut and still have many fans. Their college teammate Diana Taurasi is also sure to be named to the squad, and they could be joined by another teammate in Connecticut's Asjha Jones.
"It's going to be a blast," said Cash. "When they announce the reserves, there's going to be a couple more players that I played with in college. The game should be entertaining, but to be back there with some people you've gone through some things with and won championships with makes it even better."
No matter where the All-Star Game is being played, Cash is thrilled to be part of it once again.
"I feel like I've been playing strong enough to get there," she said. "To see that the fans voted me as a starter, that made it even cooler for me. I was just overwhelmed because I've been through a lot the last few years - publicly, personally. To know how hard I had to work and what I put into it to get my body and get my game competitive like I needed to be right now, it just means a lot to have the opportunity to play in the All-Star Game again."