Legendary WNBA star Tina Thompson sits down with us to chat.
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Tina Thompson was the first-ever draft pick of the WNBA. She was selected by the Houston Comets in 1997. What followed was a 14-year WNBA career including four WNBA Championships, nine All-Star appearances, two Olympic gold medals and more. However, the choice to take the very first step in what was an illustrious career was not easy.
We sat down with Thompson Friday ahead of her induction. Like many women then (and still), Thompson prepared herself for a life without basketball upon graduation for the University of Southern California. Therefore, being drafted to the WNBA was somewhat of a disruption to her post-grad plans.
Thompson had her reservations—at the time, there was a history of women’s leagues in America being unsuccessful. She, like another historical first draft pick Ann Meyers Drysdale, had to make an important choice.
Was it worth it?
Things turned out alright for Thompson, who will also be inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in September. In fact, Thompson is now in her second basketball career as a coach. She credits her faith, and her ability to always have a plan to her success. Her family instilled these values and they were reinforced by her mentors throughout her career.
We closed our interview by asking Thompson what she would tell young athletes of today in other start-up women’s leagues deciding whether the sacrifices of a new endeavor are worthwhile. Whether in lacrosse, hockey, or even pushing for equality on national teams, women in sport today still need to fight for opportunities equal to their male peers.
Luckily for them, women like Tina Thompson and Ann Meyers Drysdale have been down that road and are willing to shed some light and perspective on the road ahead.