Ford is nursing a bone bruise in her left knee and was only supposed to play 10-12 minutes in Sunday's game after discussing her status with East coach Bill Laimbeer.
�Bill told me if I got the hot hand that he would continue to play me and if not he would sit me down the rest of the game,� Ford said. �I was actually looking forward to getting some rest, but it didn�t happen.�
Ford played just under 27 minutes and tallied 16 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and five assists to lead the East to a 103-99 win over the West.
�I think I�m still in shock,� Ford said about raising the MVP trophy over her head. �It�s a great award; it�s a great achievement for me and for the Detroit Shock organization. It�s a great feeling. I guess I just had the hot hand today and coach kept giving me the ball.�
Ford realized that she had the hot hand at the 5:09 mark of the second quarter.
�I think I had it going after I made a 3-pointer,� Ford said with a laugh. It was the first three-point attempt and make in her WNBA career. �I surprised myself and I know my mom was out of her seat.�
Laimbeer, who also coaches Ford with the Shock, could not decide which was more of a surprise, Ford hitting the three or dishing out five assists. What did not surprise Laimbeer was the effort that Ford put forth to lead the East to its second straight All-Star Game victory.
�Cheryl plays that way every game,� he said. �She�s always double-digit rebounding, she�s becoming a better offensive player every game, every season. Nobody really expected her to jack up a three ball and make it, but it was her day. It�s great for her because she�s such a great person.�
Laimbeer and Ford both said the East�s focus on rebounding in the second half was a key to the squad�s victory.
�The All-Star Game is all about fun, but in the second half we wanted to win and we knew we had to pick up our energy and our intensity,� Ford said. �In the first half we were getting outrebounded so we had to stop that. Even the fans knew we were getting outrebounded; I heard them all yelling out �Get some rebounds!� We knew we had to get more rebounds and stop letting them get second chance shots.�
Unlike many All-Star games, this year�s contest was highly contested, which suits Ford�s competitive personality to a tee.
�We come here to play and have fun, but I like to win," she said. "I don�t care if I�m racing my little niece around the corner, I want to win. I�m a competitor and I love to win. Today we wanted to come out and defend our title and we had to come and work extra hard to do that.�
Cheryl Ford became the first player in WNBA history to be named All-Star MVP and WNBA Rookie of the Year, which she did in 2003.
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