Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Tamika Catchings discuss being in New York for NBA All-Star, their careers and more
— Newsday Sports (@NewsdaySports) February 13, 2015
Veterans Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Swin Cash (New York Liberty) and Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) are among the WNBA stars participating in this weekend’s NBA All-Star festivities in New York City. The trio participated in a press conference today and discussed a variety of topics. They will compete in the 2015 Degree Shooting Stars competition Saturday Night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn along with the Chicago Sky’s Elene Delle Donne. The contest features four teams composed of one current NBA player, one current WNBA player and an NBA legend competing in a two-round, timed shooting competition.
On growing up playing basketball in the city
Sue Bird: That experience playing in Queens on the playgrounds and then later on I’ve played a game or two in the city as well. And when you’re a female you’re trying to earn people’s respect. At the same time, I don’t really care if they respect me or not, I’m just going to out there and have fun and play. It’s always the same reaction. First you step on the court. They see a girl. They are like, oh, a girl. They take you lightly. You hit a couple of jumpers and they take you more seriously. And by the end they are asking you where you played and all this stuff. It’s like the same story every time.
Q. When you play on the playground, maybe different from when you play in the WNBA. What may be your style, your attitude that’s different?
Sue Bird: I don’t know. I think my game is more for a WNBA game than it might be for a playground game. I think when you’re playing at the playground, just hanging out, you’re trying to have a good time. Like I said, be creative. Go out there and do your thing. There’s not much thought involved. Go out there and play. It’s really like basketball at its core. It’s fun that way. Just playing.
Q. What was it like being part of the basketball culture in Connecticut? So many great players…
Sue Bird: That was amazing. I’m really thankful that I can say that I played there and I went there and I was part of that family. Because like you said, so many great players, both men and women, came out of that school. It was fun while I was there. I’m proud to say I was part of it few.
Q. You won New York Player of the Year your senior year?
Sue Bird: You’re asking me about something a long time ago.
Q. Do you remember what it was like to be recognized amongst all the great players?
Sue Bird: Yeah, I knew — looking back — I don’t know if I knew it then, but looking back I know my name will kind of be amongst all New York greats, whether it’s men’s basketball, women’s basketball. And I’m happy to say I had that opportunity and it was great. I was on a really good team my senior year. It wasn’t just me. To be recognized like that is always an honor. I know when you go back in the record books, it’s going to have a list of names, and there’s going to be some impressive names on there. It’s pretty cool that my name will be on it.
Q. Swin, can you just talk a little bit about the environment, being in New York?
Swin Cash: I mean, it seems like All-Star is on steroids here in New York. But you kind of expect it. It’s New York City. It’s the Mecca. It’s exciting. Just the vibe from the NBA and what they’ve been talking about as far as going forward. You see it here with the media, you see it out on the streets. I’m excited to be a part of it.
Q. What are you expectations for the contest —
Swin Cash: You know, we’re never picked. We’re never favored to win it. We kind of the underdog. We’re going for the three-peat and then we’re going to retire.
Q. Is that the plan, you’re going to retire after the three-peat?
Swin Cash: That’s what ‘Nique said? So I’m going with whatever he says.
Q. Who would you say carries you guys on your team?
Swin Cash: Chris always seems to make some clutch shots. But I’ve been working on that half-court shot. So I have to have his back this year. ‘Nique said he may be on the injured reserve with the shoulder, a bit for the long ball. So yeah.
Q. You’re going to have to carry him.
Swin Cash: I may have to get ready.
Q. Defending the important title. What’s your strategy?
Swin Cash: To win. You know, just have fun doing it. I think the last couple of years we just went in with the same — nobody is picking us to win. We’re not the favorite. But let’s have fun.
Q. ‘Nique on Atlanta now —
SWIN CASH: It’s been working for us.
Q. That’s good. One of the big themes of the weekend is just kind of celebrating basketball in New York. Obviously you played here a lot over the course of your career. Talk about just coming into The Garden and what it’s like.
Swin Cash: It’s interesting. There’s something magical, they always say, about The Garden. But I love the fact that the NBA is taking this whole approach to just not make it about just The Garden, and have this combination of Brooklyn and MSG. I think it says a lot about really everybody coming together. Not only basketball and the celebration of the game, but the community outreach. Those two pillars together really shows what the NBA is truly about.
Q. USA Basketball just launched their coach licensing program. I was going to ask you, for USA Basketball, any youth coach that sticks with you that made a big impression on you?
Tamika Catchings: As far as youth coach, I would have to say my gym teacher had a big influence on me. Not necessarily my coach, but her name was Coach Janusiac back in junior high. I think the biggest thing that sticks with me is just her influence in making sure that all the girls participated in sports, participated in different things they had in gym class. I love gym class, but I love playing. I think her influence on me back then was great.
Q. I spoke to your mom for a USA Basketball story, I don’t know if you ever saw that, about six months ago. Talk about what it’s like growing up and playing basketball. How you got into it.
Tamika Catchings: Okay.
Q. What do you remember most from your youth basketball games?
Tamika Catchings: For me, the thing I remember the most is starting basketball when I was in third grade. That was the first time I played basketball. And I know everybody was kind of like, that’s weird you waited that late. But I played soccer first. Then I played softball. Then I actually played organized basketball. My dad was the coach.
Q. How was your dad as a coach?
Tamika Catchings: Dad as a coach, he was good, especially back then. We’re young. So he wasn’t too forceful. Not too harsh on us. But he was a good coach.
Q. What can you tell us about Becky Hammon and her role with Popovich?
Tamika Catchings: I’m so excited for her. When you look at a WNBA player such as Becky, as far as being an ambassador for all of us, opening doors. I couldn’t think of anybody better. She’s a great person. But I think her commitment to basketball and what she brings to the Spurs organization is great as far as her knowledge of the game, thinking outside the box, I guess. She brings a lot to the organization