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September 18, 2005

Donna Orender

Sheryl Swoopes


THE MODERATOR: Welcome everyone to the 2005 WNBA Finals here at ARCO Arena the home of the Sacramento Monarchs and also a very special welcome to those of you watching on NBA TV. I'm Heather Cox and the 2005 season has been full of many exciting moments and a lot of firsts, including Katie Smith becomes the first woman in United States woman's basketball history to score a 5,000 points. That happened on July 13th. And then on August 18th, Anne Donovan became the first female WNBA coach to win a hundred games. Today we have another WNBA first, and this time I would like to introduce new WNBA president, Donna Orender.

DONNA ORENDER: It's nice to get applause at a press conference, right. It it's really great to be back at ARCO Arena. This is great place to watch basketball. It's a great organization and I think we're going to see a great game today. It is my pleasure to tell you about the 2005 WNBA Most Valuable Player. I met her earlier this season and she told me, she said to me a little personal comment, "Just watch, I will be back this year." And she has come back in such an unbelievably dramatic way. You know her because she's a three-time Olympic gold medalist, a four-time WNBA champion, a five-time WNBA All Star, and three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. She took a Houston Comets team that was 13-21 last year to 19-15 this year, and back into the playoffs in a most dramatic way. She now has a distinction among all others, of being the league's first three-time Most Valuable Player. I had the chance to give her a trophy at the WNBA All-Star Game as the Most Valuable Player then, and it is indeed my pleasure to now introduce Sheryl Swoopes of the Houston Comets as the 2005 WNBA Most Valuable Player. (Applause.)

I would lift this up but I am not strong enough, I don't think.

SHERYL SWOOPES: I'm going to make this really quick because I don't want to get emotional. Thank you, Donna. First of all, I just want to start off by saying how excited I am about getting an opportunity to be accepting my third MVP trophy. I think of all of them the other two that I received, this one is probably the most special to me for the simple fact that no one really expected the Comets to do what we did this year. And I think there were even a few people out there that were kind of ready for me to retire. They said that I couldn't compete with these players anymore. And to come out here and have the type of season that I did individually and even more than that the type of season we did as a team makes us very gratifying to me. I want to thank everybody out there who voted for me and who did believe in me. Because I kind of felt like all along that I still could compete with the best of them out there. And I think there was so much talent in this league this year, I could think of two or three other players that could easily be standing up here. So I want to say to them congratulations and great job, and that would be Lauren Jackson, Tamika Catchings, Yolanda Griffith, even Taj McWilliams-Franklin. I think all four of them had incredible seasons. So for me to be the one standing up here walking away with the trophy this year, I want to say thank you for everybody that voted for me. And the only thing that would make this better would be if we were in Houston today getting ready to play Game 3. Unfortunately, that's not the case, but I'm very excited just to be here today getting to watch a very good game and Jordan is not here. I know he's at home, he's going to be watching this, so I want to say to him, son, we did it. He told me at the beginning of the year, "Mom, you're still good, mom. You're going to win the MVP. I know you can. I know you can." So I want to say to him, thank you for believing in me, thank you for helping me get through this season. And also I want to say to Scotty, thank you for being here, believing in me and having the faith and the confidence in me that I could get the job done. So thank you and see you next year. (Applause).

THE MODERATOR: Sheryl, before we open it up to questions, I would like to ask you a question as well. A year ago you told me you did contemplate retirement and Jordan was really the one that talked you back into coming back to play. At that time would you ever dream that your season would culminate in this award?

SHERYL SWOOPES: To be honest with you, probably not. I think any time you deal with injuries, which is what I dealt with last year on a daily basis, having to deal with nagging injuries, one day it's a toe, an ankle, a knee, a shoulder or something, I think it gets very frustrating. And that was a point in my career when I was just very frustrated and said, well, maybe I don't need to do this anymore. Not that yeah, maybe I don't, maybe it's time for me to move on and do something else. But that's when Jordan came to me and he absolutely loves what I do? He loves the WNBA. He loves being around and I asked him, I said, "Son, do you want mom to retire?" And he said, "No, mom, no, mom. You're still very good. I want to go watch. I love the WNBA." And I think it's because of that, the belief that he had in me and even the belief that I had in myself, made me want to come back and play this year. But never did I imagine that I would have the type of season I had this year, that the Comets would have the type of season we had. So I think that's why it makes this trophy that much more special for me.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.


THE MODERATOR: At this time we would like to open it up to the media.

Q. How old is Jordan now and how much longer do you think you'll be playing and do you think you'll have the same Comets team back next year?

SHERYL SWOOPES: Jordan is 8 now. Sometimes I think he's about 15. You know what, I just kind of told myself that I'm going to take it one day at a time, one year at a time. If I feel anywhere close to the way I felt this year, health-wise, I definitely know I'll be back next year and maybe another 10 -- no I'm kidding, not 10. I don't know. I still love the game. I got the hunger back for it. I found the fun in it again. So I don't know how many more years I'll play. But as far as the Comets, I definitely think we'll have the same team back next year and hope to plan, hope -- plan on going a lot farther than we did this year.

Q. Would it be fair to say you came into this year with a bit of a chip on your shoulder?

SHERYL SWOOPES: You could probably say that. For the simple fact that last year was very disappointing, not only for me as an individual, but for our team. Last year was the first year we didn't make the playoffs in WNBA history. And that was very frustrating and very disappointing. For me, I didn't come anywhere close to having the type of season that I wanted to have. And just hearing a lot of people saying, well, you know, the Comets are done. The Comets aren't going to make it. Sheryl is done, that, I used that as motivation. I think there were a lot of people out there who didn't believe and in not only myself but didn't believe in us, and for us to come out and have the type of season that we had this year was satisfying. Obviously, we would love to still be playing and our goal was to try to win a championship, but unfortunately that didn't happen. But for me to be here today and to walk away with the trophy, it's pretty satisfying to me.

Q. To follow-up on that, have you thought about your place in history in the WNBA, being the first three-time MVP?

SHERYL SWOOPES: I can't think about my place in history yet because I still plan on playing for awhile. But there's been some great talent in this league. Cynthia Cooper, winning two MVPs, Lisa Leslie winning two, and Lauren and Yolanda. For me to be the first player to win three, not to take anything away from anybody else, but I think that just, that proves to me that I can still play this game. And I can still play with the best of them out there. Again, when I do retire, and I'm not playing in this league anymore and playing this game anymore, I just want to walk away from it knowing that I left everything out on the floor, every single day, every single year, and that's all I can ask for.

Q. Why do you feel that this award is more special than the first two?

SHERYL SWOOPES: I think there's always been great talent in the WNBA. Obviously I think there was so many players this year that had incredible seasons and fortunately or unfortunately, there's only one MVP. I have so much respect for every player in this league. Tamika Catchings, and I tell people this a lot, I might be older but Tamika Catchings is like my idol. She works extremely hard every single day. You know what you're going to get from her on both ends of the floor. And you have to respect a player like that. Lauren Jackson, you can say enough about her. One of the -- not just one of the best players in the WNBA, but I think one of the best players in the world. And I have so much respect for what she brings to the game, just so much respect for her as a person. A player I didn't say earlier, Deanna Nolan I think is a phenomenal player, great talent. I think she had an incredible season. So I think that it makes this one a little bit more special because of what we went through as a team. We played half of our season without Tina, who is a huge part of what we try to do with the Comets. So for us to be in a position to make the playoffs and do what we did and then for me to be able to walk away with the MVP after seeing how much talent was in this league this year, and it could have easily gone to anybody, I think that's why it makes this one that much more special to me.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you all for coming. That does conclude the WNBA Most Valuable award ceremony. After a brief photo opportunity, Sheryl will be available for interviews and again thank you for coming and enjoy Game 3.


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