SIKIDS.com reporter Emma Carmichael was on hand for the WNBA All-Star game. Check out our exclusive video footage and Q&As with the biggest stars in women’s basketball!
SIKIDS.com: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Taurasi: My favorite was Magic Johnson. Talk about a man who loved to play basketball and who enjoyed it the most. And growing up I was big Katie Smith fan. I get to play against her, I’ve played with her in the Olympics, and I’m still a huge fan.
SIKIDS.com: How did it feel to play back in Connecticut for the All-Star game?
Taurasi: It always feels good to come back. It really does. These are people who have been our fans for a long time, so it’s great to see them. The fans are going to come out here and get to see some homegrown product on the court.
SIKIDS.com: Are you excited about your former coach, Geno Auriemma, being named the U.S. coach for the 2012 Olympics?
Taurasi: In this era, I don’t think there’s a better coach in any sport. He’s a man who can motivate and get a group of people to do something, even if they don’t want to do it. There’s no one who can do that like he can. It’s a dream come true, it’s a wish come true, to be able to play under him again. I feel like a little kid again, the minute he got named, I got this feeling of, ‘Man, he’s gonna be our coach again?!’ I can’t wait.
Los Angeles Sparks
SIKIDS.com: You’re playing at home in Los Angeles this season. How does it feel to be back?
Thompson: This is my first year in L.A. It feels good to be at home and to play in front of my family and friends. I grew up in Los Angeles watching Magic Johnson. I’m a Showtime Lakers fan. The way he approached the game—he always had a lot of fun, he was always smiling and just kind of doing great things at the same time. So that was inspirational for me.
SIKIDS.com: This is your 13th WNBA season and your eighth All-Star Game. Does this year feel any different to you?
Thompson: This experience is probably a little more heartfelt simply because it’s kind of nearing the end for me. I don’t know when I’ll stop, but fairly soon, so, this will probably be one of my last few All-Stars. I’ve definitely taken in the experience, and [tried to enjoy] the moment a little bit more, instead of kind of like rushing through it like we usually do, with appearances and photo shoots and stuff like that.
SIKIDS.com: The Sparks have a jersey sponsorship with Farmers Insurance. How do you feel as a player wearing a logo instead of your team name?
Thompson: At first I felt like, how is this going to come off? Simply because it was very new, and you’re used to seeing the uniform a certain way. I definitely think that it doesn’t take away from the Sparks and what we bring, [but] it definitely puts things in perspective. Sometimes people look at the league like it’s just a game or whatever, and you just kind of see it in those eyes, but it is a job. It’s our work, it’s what we do. There’s a business side of it. So now for us it’s kind of more up front, rather than just behind the scenes.
SIKIDS.com: This is your sixth All-Star Game. What do you like about these experiences?
Bird: All-Stars are always fun games. You get to play with the best players, plus the fans voted me in this year, and I just like to go out there and give them a good show. Plus, this year there are a lot of connections out there for me. I have two of my Storm teammates [Swin Cash and Lauren Jackson]. It’s such an honor for three of us to get voted in. And then, the game’s in Connecticut with five former UConn players, so that kind of speaks for itself. It’s exciting.
SIKIDS.com: Who was your favorite basketball player growing up?
Bird: Mike Bibby. He’s not that much older than me but I watched his games at the University of Arizona and then all throughout the pros, and he’s my favorite player. I still watch him to this day.
SIKIDS.com: What are the best moments in basketball for you?
Bird: Just the competitiveness of it, it’s not necessarily a move or a play. It’s being out there and trying to win games. It’s always a good time.
SIKIDS.com: What do you do before a typical game?
Anosike: I would probably get up, eat breakfast, and go to shoot-around. Then I’d take a nap, shower, then get on the bus [where] I pretty much think about what I need to do in the game in order to be successful, and in the game I try to carry that out.
SIKIDS.com: At Tennessee you graduated with three degrees. How did you balance being both a serious student and athlete?
Anosike: I had three majors in political science, legal studies, and criminal justice. It was really tough, but I finished exactly on time. It’s well worth it now. Hopefully, when I finish playing basketball I can go to law school and see where it takes me from there. Right now I’ve just been enjoying basketball, but I’m sure law school will make up for the lost time. Time management is huge but you also have to make sure you throw in some time for yourself, and just have time to have fun, because that’s huge when you’re trying to focus. You have to be able to separate them to make time for yourself.
SIKIDS.com: You won two national championships, in 2000 and 2002, while playing at UConn. What made your teams so successful?
Cash: We had friendship and sacrifice and the main objective we had [was] a championship. We came into the year wanting [perfection] and that’s what we did. I don’t even remember some of the individual rewards we’ve gotten, but I could tell you off the bat how many championships we won. And I think that’s the most important thing.
SIKIDS.com: You’ve dealt with some tough injuries the past few years. How have you recovered?
Cash: I just never made excuses for myself. I stayed faithful and I have a great supporting cast around me. I keep people close that tell it to me like it is but also want to see me succeed. I went back into the gym and not only worked on basketball, I worked on building my body. You have to be physically able to be on the grind in this tough of a season. [I worked] on my strength, on my conditioning, on my agility, and that helped me be able to go back on the court.