Thompson Continues to Stand Out
UNCASVILLE, Conn -- There�s a certain measure of symmetry in place.
With the WNBA�s next big thing, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft Brittney Griner forced to sit out of the 2013 Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star Game due to an injury, it was the WNBA�s first big thing, the first ever WNBA draftee, Tina Thompson, who was chosen to replace her.
Thompson, who says she will retire at season�s end, has a resume that speaks for itself. She is the league�s all-time leader in points and minutes played. She was a member of the Houston Comets teams that won the first four WNBA titles (1997-2000) and she is the only player to take the court in every WNBA season.
What may be most incredible, however, is that Thompson, voted one of the WNBA�s Top 15 players of all time, never envisioned this kind of basketball career.
�I didn�t think I�d be here at all,� Thompson said. �My plan was just to play a few seasons, stack up a little cash so I could pay for law school and avoid student loans. So being here 17 years later is amazing. It�s a blessing, and it�s something I never could have predicted.�
Now, as one of the league�s elder statesmen, many of the league�s younger players � the 2013 Boost Mobile All-Star Game actually features nine first time All-Stars � tell Thompson that they were once fans of her. When asked how often that comes up, Thompson laughed and said �too many.�
�That was another reason why I was like dude it is time for me to roll out,� Thompson joked. �Too many of these kids are like, �oh, I used to watch you when I was younger.� So it�s cool to know that I influenced them, but it�s bittersweet.�
If one thing is clear, the respect that Thompson has from her peers is unwavering.
�Tina exemplifies everything you want in a WNBA player,� Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said.
�Tina�s meant a lot to the game,� Indiana�s Shavonte Zellous said. �She started it when � I�m not going to put her age out there � but a long time ago. Kids like me and others looked up to her and the Cynthia Coopers and the Sheryl Swoopes, so for it to be her last time around we�re just going to try to make it fun for her.�
Even grizzled veterans like Tamika Catchings, one of the most decorated women�s basketball players in history in her own right, can say that Thompson has meant something to her.
�She�s been awesome for me,� Catchings said. �I just think the relationship that we built has been great. She�s become my mentor, my big sister, my everything as far as just always being so supportive and inspiring.�
With this being Thompson�s ninth and final All-Star Game, many fans and players, past and current, will be reflective, thinking about the legacy of one of the game�s true icons. One person that will not be thinking about her legacy, however, is Thompson herself.
�I don�t really think in those terms,� Thompson said. �When someone says legacy I think like an older person. I mean I�m probably a little old to be playing basketball, but I don�t consider myself old. I hope that people know that I�ve respected this game totally and that I�ve loved it and played it without any regrets. So if that�s what people remember about me I�m cool with that.�