Ticha Penicheiro announces her retirement from the WNBA

May 19, 2012 - Ticha Penicheiro during the first half of this WNBA game between the Mystics and the Sky at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mark W. Sutton)
May 19, 2012 – Ticha Penicheiro during the first half of this WNBA game between the Mystics and the Sky at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark W. Sutton)

WNBA Photo Gallery: Ticha Penicheiro: 15 Years of WNBA Excellence

After a prolific career as one of the world’s best point guards, Portuguese native Ticha Penicheiro announced her retirement from the WNBA today, a day after her 38th birthday. She was drafted by the now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs as the second overall pick in the 1998 WNBA draft and became the the first player in league history to reach 2,000 career assists.

Penicheiro and fellow Old Dominion University alumna Hamchetou Maiga-Ba helped guide the Monarchs to the league championship in 2005. Last year during All-Star festivities, the league named her as one of the top 15 players in WNBA history,

“I’ve been in the WNBA for fourteen years, never in my life did I dream when I started played basketball that I thought I would accomplish this much and the game of basketball would give me this much,” said Penicheiro after receiving the top 15 honor. “It’s really hard to describe how exactly I feel.”

After the Monarchs folded in November 2009, Penicheiro joined the Los Angeles Sparks before the start of the 2010 season. She joined the Chicago Sky before the start of the 2012 season.

During her days at ODU, she helped the Lady Monarchs rule the Colonial Athletic Association. The team reached the NCAA Final in 1997 and fell to Tennessee finishing the season 34-2. Penicheiro ended her college career as her alma mater’s all-time steals leader (591), and second all-time assists leader (939) as well as the CAA all-time leader in assists and steals. She earned the prestigious Wade Trophy during her senior year and was a two-time Kodak First Team All-American (1997 and 1998).

WNBA highlights:

  • The WNBA’s record holder for career assists (2,560)
  • Ranks second in steals (756) and games played (435)
  • A four-time All-Star from 1999-2002
  • Helped lead Sacramento to the 2005 WNBA title
  • Two-time First Team All-WNBA performer (1999, 2000) who earned a Second Team selection in 2001
  • Named as an honorable mention for the league’s All-Decade Team in 2006 as well as the Top-15 Players of All-Time in 2011.

Penicheiro’s retirement letter posted on her website:

I have decided to write this note as a “THANK YOU” for all of the support that you have been giving me throughout my career. I was introduced to the game of basketball by my dad and brother. Basketball was, and will always be, my first love. Never in a million years I would have thought to get SO much from this game. People I have met, places that I’ve traveled to, memories that I will cherish forever, friendships that will last a lifetime…

I knew that, eventually, the day would come and I would have to say “good bye” and hang these Nike’s up. This season has been very frustrating as I have dealt with so many injuries… I’ve spent more time in the training room this whole season than my whole career. I’m not sure if it’s a sign from the Man above, but the time has definitely come for me to walk away from the court.

There are so many people responsible for my success that is hard not to name them individually…so in a very general way:

– I would like to thank GOD for this talent HE has blessed me with. I never took it for granted and I always respected and honored the game of basketball.
– My family’s love and support was second to none. I knew it wasn’t easy for my parents to see their little girl pack her bags and head to the US of A to chase her American basketball dream.

– Thank you to my Old Dominion family for offering me a scholarship and give me the opportunity to get an education while playing basketball, but most importantly, to welcome me to this amazing country with open arms.

– To my native country, Portugal. I’m so proud of being Portuguese and I’ve always tried to represent Portugal to the best of my abilities and remind people that it doesn’t matter where you are from. If you have dreams, believe in them, and work hard to accomplish all that you want.

– To my friends (and I have so many), thank you for always encouraging me through the ups and the downs, through the assists and the turnovers, through the wins and the losses…you all have a special place in my heart: FOREVER!!

– All of my coaches: starting with my dad who was my first coach, to Pokey my last coach. I’ve learned from all of you, not just the typical basketball X and O’s , but you all shaped me to be a better person off the court.

– I appreciate all the hard work of trainers, strength coaches, equipment managers and teams’ staff. Your work doesn’t go unnoticed!

– To all the worldwide media that has always covered my teams and showed me love, thank you for all the coverage throughout the years.

– My teammates…WOW, I have been so blessed to play with such amazing athletes. As a point guard, you guys made me look good. Thank you for all of the assists :) I truly wish I could name each and everyone of you, but there are just too many of you, all over the world.

– To my agents who always guided and advised me in the best way possible. Thank you for always putting my needs before yours…I’ve learned a lot from you, and now I’m coming after your job! :)

– A special thank you to the best brand in the world – NIKE – since I started playing this sport, even before I inked my contract, I never wore anything else but the “swoosh”.

– To the WNBA: thank you for making my dreams come true and be able to play basketball as a job. I wish you continue success and will always support
this amazing sport. I will be watching and cheering! :)

– Last, but definitely not least: the FANS. You guys are amazing. I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the support, cheering, and money that you have spent to be a part of this incredible sport. A special shot out to my Sacramento, LA and Chicago fans. It was an honor to represent and wear your team’s 21 jersey!!

I’m overwhelmed with all kinds of emotions, but I walk away from the game in peace, knowing that I gave it my all and
always tried to be the best professional I could be.

Basketball will ALWAYS be a part of my life. It is my passion and I will continue to give back in any way that I can to see it grow and expand like it deserves.

At the end, I will always remember the wins, the championships, the individual accolades, BUT… The most important thing is the memories and the friendships that will last a life time.

Thank YOU ALL for being such a HUGE part of my life. It has been an amazing ride. MUCH LOVE,

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