Tina Charles: 'I'm Just a City Kid'
Last week, the Connecticut Sun traded Tina Charles to the New York Liberty, in a trade that surprised many WNBA fans. It seem liked everyone was trying to weigh in on the matter, except Charles, who is currently in Russia finishing up her season playing for Dynamo Moscow. WNBA.com reached out to Charles to give her the opportunity to speak on the matter. These are her words, unfiltered, about her decision to leave the Connecticut Sun and join the New York Liberty.
WNBA.com: Obviously, you grew up in New York and made a name for yourself in high school playing basketball. But what does playing for the New York Liberty mean to you?
Tina Charles: It's a blessing. It's a dream come true. I was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens. Where I'm from, people don't always get what they want. This was always the dream. My mom always took me to Liberty games growing up, my AAU team played during halftime of their games, I was apart of their ball ceremony when the starting five was called out.
WNBA.com: When you were in Connecticut, you were already commuting 2-3 hours every moment you could to be with friends and family back in New York. What do you think it will be like to have them there at your games more often now?
Charles: It's really great. My mom and dad are the biggest Liberty and New York Knicks fans. For them to be there courtside and to see me live, everytime. My mom works in the Empire State Building so it's just a short walk for her to see me at the Garden. It's a great thing not only just for me, but for my family and close friends.
WNBA.com: Tina, it came as a surprise to many people when the news broke out about you requesting a trade to New York. I don't want to get into a "he said, she said" about what's been printed out there. But for the fans, can you explain your thought process as to what led to your decision?
Charles: When it came down to it, I had a great experience in Connecticut. From my UConn days, UConn fans are the same fans that come out to Mohegan, they supported me and my other teammates very well. It was a great atmosphere. Mohegan Sun is a very close knit arena and you just always felt them there.
But the bigger picture was, I had an opportunity to play in New York, where I grew up. To play alongside Cappie Pondexter and Essence Carson, as well as play for Bill Laimbeer, I just saw the idea of winning a championship. I just looked at the bigger picture.
A lot of times you're going to have people stay in the moment, and that was my moment right then there. It was to go to the Liberty and I'm really happy with the decision I made.
WNBA.com: You're going to be joining Cappie Pondexter and coach Bill Laimbeer, two people who know a thing or two about winning championships. What do you envision the pairing of you three is going to be like?
Charles: I don't want to be a team where you read off the roster and the names jump off the page. I want to make sure every team we play, they feel our presence. I don't just want to be a pretty team that you're able to say "They have Cappie, Essence, Tina Charles, Kara Braxton and Plennete Pierson," I don't want to be that kind of team. I want to make sure you feel our presence.
It's going to take a while, just because you have to have the names, you have to make sure you can all collectively play together. I believe Bill will be able to lead us in doing that.
WNBA.com: Bill Laimbeer is known for his physical style of game play. How do you think you will fit into that?
Charles: It will definitely come out in me. Whenever I would play, they were one of the teams I knew it would be a battle when I was playing for the Connecticut Sun. I knew they were always going to make my job hard.
Charles: I can only feel that out once I get into a practice and see how we train and how we take things. I can't really foresee what's going to happen and everything, but I know its going to be a tough competition. So yeah, I'm really looking forward to the summer.
WNBA.com: What else are you looking forward to being back in New York?
Charles: Just to be home, just to be locally, to be with family and friends. I just love my city, I just love New York. It's one of the best places in the world, the atmosphere, the cultures, the many different people you meet. I'm just a city kid that takes the subway, so it's going to be great.
WNBA.com: Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you wanted to add or emphasize?
Charles: It was a bittersweet decision for me. I love Connecticut, I love my teammates. That's one of the hardest things ever. You're with people all the time, you see them. I'm really going to miss Connecticut.