Staley Honored by Hall of Fame Nod

Dawn Staley is a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and is recognized as one of the top 15 WNBA players to have ever played the game. Now a women's basketball coach at the University of South Carolina, she chatted with about this week's announcement that she would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year.

Aman Ali, Can you walk me through how you found out about the announcement?

Staley: I got the call last Wednesday. I actually was doing the end-of-the-year readings with my players. In between meetings, I got a text from one of my former players who keeps up with the sports world asking if I got in. I didn't really think about it and she made me look through my missed calls, and saw I got a call from the Hall of Fame. So I called them back and that's when I got the shocking news that I am going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. You made consecutive Final Four appearances playing basketball at Virginia, won multiple Gold Medals and are considered one of the greatest WNBA players to have ever played the game. Where does this Hall of Fame nod rank among your accomplishments?

Staley: I think it ranks number one. Because of what it stands for and the people that are selecting who goes in. To be considered among greatness, that has got to go at the top of the list. When you decided to walk away from playing basketball, you didn't wander too far from the court by pursuing a career in coaching. What keeps you involved in the game of basketball?

Staley: It is what I love. It is my passion and my livelihood. It's the one stable force in my life that I can always count on being there. It just feels natural. It feels like what I'm supposed to do - to play the game and coach the game and build my life around the game. It hasn't failed me yet, so logically basketball picked the right person to embrace it. At 42, you're also one of the youngest people to get inducted into the Hall of Fame. Now that you've been inducted as a player, is it one of your goals to get inducted one day for your coaching?

Staley: Anytime that you can get inducted into the Hall of Fame, that means you made a great sacrifice for the game and persevered throughout whatever basketball has thrown at you. If my coaching allows me to persevere through those things and get into the Hall of Fame as a coach, then I welcome it. I welcome all those challenges that come along with that. We're days away from the WNBA Draft, which features one of the most exciting draft classes the league has ever seen. How has the game grown since when you first entered the league and what are your thoughts on the upcoming draft class?

Staley: Because of the national exposure of the game now, it has allowed the game to welcome players like Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins to be great and become household names and recognizable. I want to welcome all the draftees into the league and wish them the best of luck in their careers. I think it goes to show you that when women get the opportunity to play basketball and be exposed in such a way, it opens up the door for girls to realize their dreams. You're recognized as one of the pioneers that has helped women's basketball become a mainstream sport. Is that an honor you embrace?

Staley: I've been around the game long enough and I've been called a pioneer and an ambassador of the game. I don't take that lightly. It's my passion and I've built my life around it. If I can build my name and help the game continue to grow, then I will do that because it has helped me.