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July 15, 2007

Tina Thompson


TINA THOMPSON: First of all, I'd like to say I'm excited about being back here in D.C. I enjoy plague here so much. Other than my home fans in Houston, I think Washington, D.C. probably has the best fans in the WNBA, other than Houston, Texas. I think they have an awesome view of the game, very unbiased. Although it was an Eastern Conference-hosted game, they enjoyed the basketball in general. And I felt that being a Houston Comet, and coming in here playing against the Mystics, they enjoy great women's basketball, and it shows in the way that they support the game, and they cheered good plays whether it's on the opponent's side or their home team, and I think that's awesome.

Q. As a young elder stateswoman of the league, you've been to almost every All-Star Game. Talk about this game and past games, and will we see you in future games?
TINA THOMPSON: Well, you know, it's awesome. I think that it's definitely very gratifying in being picked to an All-Star Game. I think that we have an awesome group of women's basketball players in the WNBA. So there is such a large number of players that can be here. So to be picked to that elite group, it's always an honor. And I have enjoyed it every single time.
I'm going to be honest, I was so tired. I actually didn't want to come. But there was no way I was going to pass it up, and once I got here, like all of that just went away. Being around these young girls and just what they're bringing to the game immediately, like an immediate impact, and they're coming right in out of college, and just showing what they have to offer. And just also showing how far women's basketball has come. It's very exciting, and the level of showmanship has just gone to unbelievable heights. And it's fun, because it shows that our game is evolving in that we don't only work really hard, that we also have exciting plays and other things to offer.

Q. Hands down, you were definitely the MVP on the West Coast team. Looking at your numbers, you were 5-for-9. Your three-point shooting, it just stays the same ever since I remember playing against you. What are you doing in the off-season to just, I mean, how many threes do you shoot regularly?
TINA THOMPSON: Well, honestly, I grew up playing with boys, so I mean, although when I started playing basketball with girls, I was actually one of the taller players. But because I started playing basketball with boys, I was kind of, you know, I wasn't a physical presence. So it forced me to develop an outside game or else I wasn't going to compete. So as my game evolved, I had to learn how to be a better post player, than kind of an outside shooter. So just in the off-season I always try to add something to my game, whether it's just kind of facing up more, and doing things off the dribble. This year I've had the opportunity to play outside a lot more. I've been playing the three for my team, which is a different experience especially at my age, 32.
I played basketball for a long time, so to be in my last days to try a new position is pretty ridiculous. But it's worked, it's gone well. And I've had some success there. So I'm just really excited about the fact that being among the much younger players, that I'm able to still kind of have an impact on the game. Although I'm a little slower, I'm still able to add something (laughing).

Q. Has it been difficult to retain your All-Star status in your later years?
TINA THOMPSON: You know what, the funny thing about it is that at no time have I ever played to be an All-Star. I've played to kind of make my team better and to win basketball games. And I just think that when you win, when you work hard, when you go into a game completely, just giving your complete best and want to go work as hard as you can to get good results, then everything else will come. So I've been very blessed to be a part of all the All-Star Games, except for the year that I had my son, Dylan. And it's just been an unbelievable run.
I've just had some really great successes, and I have no regrets. I have no worries. It's been awesome.

Q. My question might put you on the spot a little bit: As a veteran of the women's league, can you speak a little bit of the disparity as far as salaries for the men and women. As you say the evolution of the game, the women have come a long way, but there is still a major disparity of millions of dollars between the women and the men. Can you speak as a player on that.
TINA THOMPSON: Though I think the WNBA has had great success, we're still very young as far as years. We're ten years and going into our second decade. But when you talk about the NBA, and you talk about several decades of basketball. So, although we're in the new millennium, we're starting at a place that they did a long time ago. So that growth -- I remember when I was, I think maybe in junior high school or whatever, and Magic Johnson signed this deal with the Lakers for ten years, $10 million, and that was unbelievable. Myself and all my friends were like, whoa, ten years, $10 million, that is so awesome. And now players that sit on the bench or they play 25 minutes a game make $10 million a year. So that's just how far the game, like, has come.
And I think that the best is in store for the WNBA and there had to be a foundation set. And I guess, fortunately and unfortunately, I'm one of those players that has set the foundation. And years from now, someone else will benefit from that. But I think that that's what makes us and this league so awesome, that we're willing to make those sacrifices in order to continue to have a league for women and be the most successful league.

Q. Talk a little bit about motherhood and being an All-Star.
TINA THOMPSON: It's great. My son, Dylan is awesome. I could be a little biased, but I think he's just the best kid ever. He enjoys the game. He's adapted so well to my lifestyle. I think that I felt that I was going to have to make some complete changes to my life with just him being a part of it, but it's been the opposite. And I don't know how that happened, but it has. He's improved my way of life, but also, he's adapted to my lifestyle in general, the late nights, being at the game and we're not getting home until midnight or early morning, and flying all over the country. Dylan is two years old, and I think at this point, he's been to ten countries, and he loves it. He flies well. He never cries. I mean, it's just unbelievable that the experience that he's allowing me to continue to have. So I'm forever indebted to him.

Q. Millions have watched the game today, and the WNBA players are such an inspiration to millions of young girls, what words of inspiration would you give to young girls coming up who are looking at you and say, I want to be like Tina?
TINA THOMPSON: Well, I think that that's just inspiring in itself, in that little girls can watch the WNBA and have a role model in their likeness, whereas, when I was younger, I didn't have very much opportunity to see women's basketball players, and to have someone to model myself after.
Like, I had admiration for male basketball players, because that's all that I saw. I could probably name, like, maybe five basketball players that I was really familiar with. And about three of them played in Southern Cal, you know, in my home city. So I think that that is so inspiring in that with national television, with the WNBA, with the fact that we can get out and make an impact in our communities and in the inner city, and that it's visible for us to be role models is just an inspiration in itself. So the sky's the limit.
And I think in my opinion, I always dream very, very big. Because even if you fall short, you're going to accomplish quite a bit of things.
THE MODERATOR: Tina, thank you very much.

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