Cynthia Cooper is all smiles during Tuesday's press conference.
Andrew Ware/Comets photo
On missing the competition:
As a coach for Phoenix, I didn�t necessarily miss the competition, at first. I went through a phase in my life where I just wanted other things. I�ve since gotten married. I have two beautiful (twins) children. That�s really helped me be a more well rounded person. I thoroughly enjoy being a parent. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me, to be the mother of twins. I played for the first time (July 2002) out in the Virgin Islands � I was doing a basketball camp � and I was there with a couple of NBA guys. We played a three-on-three game, outside, in 100-degree heat, on a dirty outside court with bent rims. We played against a few teenagers from the island over in Virgin Gorda. It was me, Joe Forte and one of the teenagers�it was the best fun I ever had, or I had had in a long time, playing basketball. We won�I just want to be clear on that. I think that�s what sparked the interest to return, that�s what gave me back the passion (to return). At that moment, I did miss playing basketball.�
On returning to the Comets and the city of Houston:
Houston is such an amazing city. The fans have all been awesome. The fans who I�ve seen, walking down the street or in the malls, everybody has come up to (me), �Cynthia are you coming back? Are you coming back? We need you, we want you, we love you, we miss you.� Thank you to all of those fans. They have been awesome�they have been awesome. It�s a great city to play for. Coach Chancellor is a wonderful coach to play for. He has a wonderful coaching staff. This is a wonderful organization�Carroll Dawson, Les Alexander. Les has shown such great enthusiasm with the idea of me coming back and the same with Carroll Dawson. We�re a family here and it�s great to be back as a part of the Houston Comets family.
On the chase to reclaim the WNBA title:
The ultimate goal for any player in the WNBA is to win a championship. So yes, that is the number one goal. Right now, LA being the two-time champion is the team to beat. I definitely come back hoping that my return can help the Comets win another championship. I don�t come back to be the one missing piece of the puzzle. I come back to join a great team with Sheryl Swoopes, with Tina Thompson, with Janeth (Arcain)�all of the other players, Michelle Snow, Tiffani (Johnson), all of the other players who have contributed to this organization. I�m coming back to join them as one unit, hopefully we can fight for and win another championship.
On returning to play for another team besides the Comets:
My desire to come back to play was strong enough that if it did not work out with the Comets that I would�ve played for another team. But, there was never a time that I thought it wouldn�t work out with the Comets because Houston is home. This is where I wanted to play. I spent time in Phoenix, and Phoenix was great for me. The Phoenix organization gave me a chance to coach�get some coaching experience and really experience the WNBA from a different perspective. As a player, this is the organization that I wanted to be affiliated with, that I wanted to play for, and this is my home as a mother, a wife and a player in the WNBA.
On when she knew she was ready to return:
A lot of people in the media saw me working out, which was not my plan. My plan was to just get in shape. To get in shape and see if this was something that I could do. To see if I was able to come back and be the player that I was when I left. That was my goal and once I determined that, then decide whether I wanted to come back and play in the WNBA. I didn�t make my decision until I started shooting with Coach (Kevin) Cook, before I didn�t touch a basketball. I had to get in shape in order to work out. When I started shooting with Coach Cook, it just felt great to have the ball in my hand, it felt great to make moves to the basket, it felt great to even miss shots. I got that feeling that I�m not too far from being where I want to be and having the rhythm I want to have, and so working out with Coach Cook and actually doing some real basketball drills, really gave me the confidence that I can do this.
On when she made the decision:
Since February�I�ve been in pretty good condition since mid-February. I�ve just been waiting for the Collective Bargaining Agreement to be signed and everything to work out.
On what influenced her decision to come back:
The only thing that influenced me was my love for the game, my passion for the game, my passion for the Houston Comets organization and the players. That�s the only thing that influenced my comeback, no Michael Jordan, no one else.
On being ready to play:
I�m not ready to run forty minutes. I�m not ready to be at the top of my game and I don�t think I should be ready right now � that�s what training camp is for. I�m looking forward to beginning training camp. I�m looking to getting into playing shape and being able to play as many minutes as Coach Chancellor needs me to play in order to help us be successful.
On fitting in with the returning players:
That�s what will help me mesh better with the Houston Comets, the new faces of the Houston Comets. We pretty much have the same nucleus as before, they know me and I know them and that will help me make the transition back into the organization and the team. I haven�t been gone so long that the other players don�t know me, they�re not familiar with my game. I�m not familiar with their game because it�s a two-way street�I have to get used to them, they have to get used to me. I don�t think there should be a real big problem meshing with the current team.
On tarnishing her legacy:
I just want to play. I�m not worried about a legacy. I�m not worried about anything other than playing. One of my prerequisites for coming back was, if I actually believe that I could come back and play at the level that I was playing at when I left, I wanted to come back and be Cynthia Cooper. I feel like I am Cynthia Cooper and I will be the same player that I was when I left.
On being ready for the younger players challenging her:
I�m not right now, but by the time the season comes around, I think I�ll be prepared for the young players. That�s no different than what I saw while I was playing in the league. I don�t think it�s only me, you have the MVP, Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson.
On the younger players wanting to play with her:
She (Michelle Snow) ages me when she says she grew up watching me play. I think Michelle is very, very talented. I actually got a chance to play two-on-two with Michelle and a couple of other players�I�m excited. I�m excited to play with players as young and talented as Michelle. I can�t wait until we get out there when we�re practicing our alley-oops, because I want to be the assist to her dunk. I�m excited to play with players like Michelle, and I also feel honored that they look forward to playing with me.
On her fondest memory:
Championships, the first two years. I�m partial to the first two years�my mom was still alive, Kim (Perrot) was still alive, so I�m partial to the first two championships.
On her body responding to her comeback:
I don�t think my body has changed as much as I thought it had. It was just hard getting back in shape. Two years away from basketball, as much as I tried to stay in shape, you can never be in the type of shape you need to be in order to play on a professional level. You really have to train in order to be an elite athlete.
On returning as a player after coaching in the WNBA:
I think I see the game differently. From a player�s perspective, I�m able to separate the two.
On the return of Cooper:
Let me say this, I think Cynthia hit the nail on the head. It�s not a missing piece to the puzzle, I�m just glad to have a lot of pieces of the puzzle, and you�ve got a player that can do so many things�carry the ball to basket, penetrate, dish off, shoot the ball. When you add somebody like that and somebody who can shoot the ball from outside, yeah that�s good. I think we�ve had a pretty doggone good draft, Cynthia Cooper. Forget everything else, forget all the dispersal drafts, forget all the college drafts�I�m excited about Dominique Canty, but it�s also hard to think about adding a player of that caliber.
On the message Cooper�s return means to the WNBA:
The message has been the same since we�ve been here. They asked Tina Thompson after we won the first championship, are we thinking about repeating, and she said, �Let me tell you right now, we�re thinking about beating New York the first game.� Our message is, we got a game, let�s go get better and play. We don�t believe in sending messages, we believe in winning basketball games.
On adding the new players to the returning players:
I think that will work out pretty quick. Give me players and all those other little problems you think about, they�ll work out. I�d rather coach great players. Let me tell you, the secret to coaching is pretty simple�load the bus with good players and coaching becomes a lot easier.
On Cooper being 40 years old:
I don�t believe in rookies and I don�t believe in 40-year-old players. I just believe in players. If you can play, you can play. Forget all that other stuff.