Secaucus, N.J. - As always, the 2005 WNBA Draft was quite
the event here at the NBAE Studios. With 15 of the top college players in the
nation, their families, friends and, in several cases, their college coaches,
not to mention the dozens of media outlets and NBA and WNBA officials, things
can get quite hectic. Of course, you see very little of that on ESPN2 and NBA
TV, but much of what goes on behind the scenes is often the most entertaining.
1. New York, New York
nothing to do but wait, a dozen picks visited the NBA Offices on New York's Fifth
Avenue Friday to meet some fof the league personnel. After the formal introductions,
they were free to roam about town. For several, it was their first trip to the
Big Apple. Later that night, on the eve of the biggest day of their lives, the
top prospects headed to the ESPN Zone in Times Square for a night of bonding and
"I think it took our minds off of things, gave us an opportunity to play
some games and mingle among each other," said LSU guard Temeka Johnson, Washington's
No. 6 selection. "It was fun. I enjoyed it a lot."
One of the activities at
the entertainment venue included a basketball arcade game. However, the competition
was not as intense as one might expect.
"I don�t think we tried to be as competitive
as we normally are," Johnson said. "I think we just made it more fun. We�re just
trying to enjoy the moment and soak up everything."
Although many of players
needed the distraction of the night out to cope with the pressures of the Draft,
Florida State guard Roneeka Hodges was not one of them.
"I've been fine all
the way through," the eventual 15th selection of the Houston Comets said. "It
makes me nervous I�m so calm about it because I�m thinking I�ll get really weird
on Draft Day."
2. Two of a Kind
If Hodges was calm about entering the world of professional basketball, perhaps
it was because she had already experienced it. Her identical twin sister, Doneeka,
was a second-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2004 WNBA Draft.
"She just told me don�t worry about it, because some things are out of your
control," the newest member of the Comets said. "We usually talk about different things
on a day-to-day basis but nothing that specific. I�m already kind of experiencing
things in Doneeka's career through her, so I have a better feel for things."
3. Baby Boy
The Hodges sisters
were not the only set of twins associated with this year's Draft. Detroit Shock
center Kara Braxton, the seventh overall pick, also has a twin sister who played
at the University of Georgia. Braxton sat out her senior season in Athens while
pregnant with her three-month old son, Jelani. During the interview process, the
big question WNBA teams had about the 6-6 forward was whether or not she could
shake off the rust of such a long layoff.
"I�ve had a year off," Braxton said.
"When I went to the Pre-Draft camp, it was a little challenging just because of
the fact that I�m coming off a pregnancy and hadn�t played in a while, and the
other girls had played all season. Once I go to training camp and get my wind
back and all that good stuff, I think I should be good."
Also present at the 2005 WNBA Draft was 6-1, 230-pound
Georgia linebacker Odell Thurman, Braxton's boyfriend and the father of the couple's
child. Ironically, Thurman is an expected Day One pick in next week�s NFL Draft.
"It�s real exciting because both of us are kind of going through the same
thing right now," Braxton said. "It�s fun, an honor to be here, and my boyfriend�s
going to go [in the draft] next week. It�s just so exciting to me, I can�t wait
to see the results next week and he�s excited for me this week. I�m just happy."
Thurman was proud of the way Braxton battled past the adversity of having
to sit out her senior campaign.
"Kara's getting a chance to pursue her life
long dream," he said. "She stayed focus. She worked through it. We�re still where
we want to be today."
As for Jelani, Braxton had this to say: "He�s big. I�m
the tall one, the 6-6 long one. Odell�s a big one as well. So our son is long
and has muscles already."
5. What You Didn't
ESPN and NBA TV used 50 crew members, six cameras and six microphones
to stage the television production of the Draft and beam it live into your living
rooms. The set of the Draft at NBA Entertainment's studio took all of Friday to
assemble, was partially deconstructed during an evening taping of an NBA TV show
and then resurrected Saturday morning. The television set was not the only thing
requiring assembly, however. A hospitality tent was erected for players and their
families to dine in while a connecting tent served as a press conference area/media
The WNBA Events and Attractions team created the 4,200 square foot
space over a period of four days. Items served in the hospitality tent included:
beef tenderloin garnished with pepperoncini; chicken marinated with free thyme,
clover honey and Dijon mustard; grilled vegetables and mozzarella cheese with
pesto olive oil wrap; and tri-color tortellini salad.