On Friday, many of the biggest stars of the WNBA met with the media as a part of the 2018 WNBA All-Star Weekend. Here are a few quotes from the media availability from the All-Stars in attendance.
Liz Cambage, Team Parker
On working with Dallas Wings’ assistant coach Taj McWilliams-Franklin:
Cambage: Taj is everyone’s big mama. She’s a really great role model for us. She was in the league for how many years? A long time, a long time. So she’s seen it all, she’s been through it all, all around the world. I have so much respect for her and it’s really great working with her on a daily basis.
Talk a little bit about the exciting surrounding this All-Star and being a part of Team Parker.
Cambage: You look at our team and it is stacked. It is stacked. So I’m really excited to be able to play with Candace (Parker), Maya Moore, got my girl Skylar (Diggins-Smith) with me. So I am really excited for tomorrow.
I was speaking to Candace (Parker) earlier and she said that picking you on her team was a no brainer. She was the most excited to have you there. What has it been like for getting to play against her and how much are you looking forward to being a teammate for this?
Cambage: Even before I was in the league, I loved Candace’s game. I loved her as a person. She is one of the all-around greats around this league. For her to put me on this team, it really hit my heart. I’ve always wanted to play with her and it’s going to happen tomorrow.
You’ve had a phenomenal season so far. What is next for you for what you want to accomplish personally?
Cambage: I want to get a ring. That’s all I want with Dallas. I want my team to do well. I want to get a ring. That’s what everyone plays for. Everyone wants a championship. So hopefully this is our year.
Skylar Diggins-Smith, Team Parker
Being an All-Star veteran here, how do you approach the game? Is it more competitive, fun or a bit of both?
Diggins-Smith: (laughs) You’ll get the vibe. You’ll get the vibe. I never feel like it’s not competitive. It’s supposed to be entertainment. It’s for the fans, but by the third quarter, the fourth quarter, everyone here is trying to win. Don’t let none of this fool you, everyone’s trying to win. There’s still bragging rights if your team wins. You want to be competitive, and that’ll come out. You’ll see it really quick. I think it will start out as fun and everyone will be doing their thing, but by the end of the third quarter, you’ll see it kick in.
How has the weekend been so far? You had the clinic today and being around the youth.
Skylar Diggins-Smith: We did the one yesterday, too. It was cool being around the young kids. They had a great crowd when we come out and compete here, and I don’t expect anything different tomorrow.
Any thoughts on the new format? You are on the same team with some of your teammates, so will it affect you much?
Skylar Diggins-Smith: Give me any 12 All-Stars, all of them are great. The best players are here, so give me any 12. I don’t mind it. I’m happy I’m on Team Parker with Liz, so it’s good to play with my teammate. You get to play with players you normally don’t get to play with. It’s pretty cool.
Diana Taurasi Media, Team Delle Donne
How do you approach an All-Star Game? Is it more fun or competitive?
Taurasi: There’s always that fine line between it being fun and an enjoyable night for the fans. But there’s always that one moment where it gets serious. Something happens, someone makes a play, score gets tight with the time winding down. There’s always that moment. You never know when it’s going to come but it’s going to come.
How has it been playing so many All-Star Games with Sue Bird?
Taurasi: It’s really bene one of the fun things of my career, to share so many moments with Sue. From college to Olympic experience, All-Star teams, she’s a great person. She’s been so great for women’s basketball. She’s done it in a very classy way and she’s playing the best basketball of her career. That just shows through a lot of hard work and commitment, the sky is the limit.
What’s it been like to keep yourself playing at such a high level for so long?
Taurasi: You have to have some inner motivation, you have to want to do it. You have to want to wake up in the morning and compete. I always say, the day I step on the court and don’t feel like fighting, it’s the day I’m going to be done.
Candace Parker, Team Parker
How important is it for the Sparks to get off to a good start after the break?
Parker: I know in years past, this break has been bad for us. We were hot and we came back and we played really bad after the break. I guess I’m hoping it’s the opposite effect. We played poorly before the break and now maybe we’ll figure out how to put it together. I think eventually we’ll figure it out. Obviously, health is something that you can’t control. All you can control is the players that are on the court. I’m pretty confident that we’ll get it together.
What was your strategy in picking your team?
Parker: It was really fun for me. I think it was kind of like a park atmosphere in terms of you pick the teams and things like that. For me, as with Elena [Delle Donne], there’s no bad pick. You’re picking All-Stars here. So forming a team was easy for me. Obviously, I wanted to make sure that I had my two teammates on my side because I don’t want to play against them. And then from there, I went with that.
Elena Delle Donne, Team Delle Donne
How did it feel being one of the first All-Star captains selected and being able to select your team?
Delle Donne: It was awesome. I love it. It’s humbling that fans came out and voted and wanted me to be in that position. It was really fun. I had a good time with it. And now that we’re all here hanging out, that’s what this is all about.
What’s your favorite part of All-Star weekend?
Delle Donne: Hanging out, that’s the best part by far. The team bonding is by far the greatest part of it.
As a captain do you have any sort of strategy at all for your team and what you want everyone else to kind of embody?
Delle Donne: Get buckets. Shoot your shot, put up a lot of points and have fun.
What was your strategy and what did you look for when selecting your team?
Delle Donne: I wanted to get versatile players that can kind of do it all. Because you know, with the All-Star game it is kind of who can handle it, who can shoot it. So just trying to get players like that. Definitely wanted to get some Lynx players because we need to get the home crowd behind us. Also, players that have great relationships with friends and have a good rapport. You get like one 30-minute practice so you just kind of have to know each other’s games.
Breanna Stewart, Team Delle Donne
Maya (Moore) came into the Seattle All-Star game last year and won the MVP. Is there any sort of fun motivation to come in and steal one?
Stewart: You know we’ll see how the game goes. People have said that a few times but whoever knocks down shots early. That’s the one you’re going to feed to get them.
Do you think we are getting to the point in this league where teams are going to need to have a you or an Elena Della Donne in order to compete at the highest level?
Stewart: Well I think it helps. Especially with the size, being able to be 6-4, 6-5, and being able to handle the ball, be on the perimeter, be in the post. It’s un-guardable in a sense. It’s just tough for other people to guard. Even when we (Stewart and Delle Donne) guard each other it’s still hard. Obviously we know what we like to do, but it is still hard to stop.
Sylvia Fowles, Team Delle Donne
Will you serve as an ambassador for the WNBA family this weekend?
Fowles: I’m more relaxed with the WNBA family. I get out a lot on my own while we’re in-season, so I get to explore a lot. You only can give them so much in a short amount of time. Since they’re only here for a weekend we want to make sure their hours spent here are amazing. We’re just going to try and show them a good time.
Do you feel like the WNBA has as much star-power as it’s ever had?
Fowles: We have a long way to go so it’s hard to say. You definitely see growth in the direction that we’re going. I’m loving the process as I’m sure many of us do. I can’t say that this is the best, as of right now. I’ve only been in this league for 11 years so I can’t speak for everyone else but we’re definitely on the up and up.
As far as the Lynx go, you all have a lot of catching up to do in the second half of the season. Where is the team’s confidence level heading into the break?
Fowles: Our confidence is fine. It was fine when we were losing. We’re just going to take it one game at a time. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. We will take it one game at a time and see where we end up.
Sue Bird, Team Delle Donne
This is your 11th All-Star Game now. What makes this one special?
Bird: I don’t know. There are times where I’m like here I am. I’m still playing. There’s no fancy story about it. It’s not some, in my mind, great accomplishment. At times, mostly when I’m asked questions about it, I do take a step back and I’m like OK. I’ve played in 500 games which recently broke the record. Why haven’t other people done that? I’m in my 11th All-Star Game. Why had nobody done that before? So while I’m doing it, I don’t really necessarily think I’m doing anything special. I’m just kind of trying to stay as healthy as I can so I can play as long as I can. In those moments of retrospect, I’m like OK – I guess it is pretty unique and cool that I am the first to play in 11.
So how often do the moments come?
Bird: Not very often. I think those are things that are reserved for when you’re done playing and you can kind of look back and realize what you accomplished, but in the moment, I’m just enjoying myself. This basketball thing isn’t going to be here forever. I’m just trying to enjoy every moment.
Do you keep up with Maya Moore from afar? Being in the UConn family, do you keep track of her?
Bird: I think when you play in the league and are part of the WNBA family, you’re always aware of what people are doing and the careers they’re having. We play against each other. We play with each other. We’re all very connected in that way. And of course, you add in the Connecticut factor which is very much like a family. Especially when we all get together with USA Basketball, then you kind of understand how great it is to have that connection.
Maya Moore, Team Parker
So being an All-Star veteran, is it more competitive, fun or a mixture of both?
Moore: There’s always a level of competitiveness whenever you step out on the court. For whatever reason this year, I feel more celebratory and excited to be here. I want to celebrate and enjoy this. After we get on the court, it’ll be a bit more relaxed for me this year.
Being the host city this year, how has the experience been so far?
Moore: It’s been great hosting, especially since we have so many beautiful things to show off. With the Target Center being renovated and having people enjoy the city, even though it’s gotten a little bit cool these last couple days. People will have to bring their jackets. It’s been fun and it’s good to be home, and be even more proud of our home now that we have guests coming.
Any thoughts on the new format, playing against some of your teammates – what’s that going to be like?
Moore: Yeah, that’s going to be interesting. Seimone (Augustus) has been chirping a little bit. We might be cross-matched a little bit at some point, and I might have to remind Seimone about my defense. We’ll see!
A’ja Wilson, Team Delle Donne
How does it feel to be in your first All-Star Game?
Wilson: It feels great. It really does feel great to be around all these great vets. Just to hear them, pick their brains, laugh with them – see the human side of them. Obviously, you see in a scouting report and you see it as a player, but just to be around and see them as humans. It’s good.
How does it feel to have your teammate with you here?
Wilson: Super exciting. I remember when I first showed her the roster we were on the same team and we were like Yes! Kayla deserves to be here more than anyone, I think. She really worked hard throughout the course of the season. She’s really helped us out and helped me out as a rookie. Just to have her alongside and be with me on my first trip here, it’s a lot of fun.
What do you think of the new All-Star format?
Wilson: I like it. I like this whole situation with the draft and captains. I think this is a lot of fun. We can just show a good side of it. Who gets to pick us and things like that. Takes us back to childhood days when we’re picking dodgeball teams.
Chiney Ogwumike, Team Parker
How does it feel to be an All-Star again?
Ogwumike: It means the world for me to be here. Coming off of an injury and also working a full-time job at ESPN, it’s been a very challenging year. My goal was to get back on the court somehow and contribute. However big, however small. To be here after all the ups and downs, it means the world to me. Not many people get to do what they love multiple times. I’m just really excited to be here and play with the brightest, best here in the league. Just have fun. I like the new format. To be part of the new format for the first time is great.
It is bittersweet to be here without your sister?
Ogwumike: That was a bummer. When I found out, she probably wasn’t going to come up. I was like No! It was like back to my Stanford flashbacks. Back to my Cy-Fair High School flashbacks, AAU because basketball has always been a “we” thing for Nneka and I, not a “me” thing. I know there’s going to the time and place for us to play together again. So fingers crossed, that happens.