Chatting With One of the Newest Hall of Famers
Lynx Coach Jen Gillom had a big weekend.
This past weekend the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inducted the 2009 class into their hall. The inductees were Jennifer Azzi, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, Sonja Hogg, Jill Hutchison, Ora Washington and Jennifer Gillom. Congratulations to all of the inductees, as they have all achieved wonderful things throughout their respective careers.
As I’m located in Minnesota, I had the opportunity to speak with Jennifer Gillom before the Lynx hosted the Seattle Storm last week about the honor and her career. Keeping the conversation brief as not to interrupt her preparation for the game at hand, Gillom was gracious with her time and smiled with a child-like enthusiasm looking ahead to her big day.
SLAM: Tomorrow is a big day for you, huh?
Jen Gillom: Oh my gosh, what a day and it starts early. I don’t even get any sleep tonight. I have a 6 a.m. flight to be there at noon, then it’s going to be like a ratrace from there. I’m sure as soon as I get in I’ll see my family and talk some, but I can’t even do that because I have to get everything ready before the ceremony. I’ll be there less than 24 hours and have a lot to do in that time, but I think it will be a great day and I’m really looking forward to it.
What an honor, man. It’s there, you try to soak it in, you try to take it all in, but it’s hard to when you’re focusing on a game tonight and so many things to think about. I’m sure when I get there tomorrow and see all the inductees and all the things that lead up to the ceremony, it’s going to be a wonderful day.
SLAM: Why do you love the game of basketball? What brought you to the game in the first place?
JG: It’s just the competitiveness of it. From the beginning, I just loved competing. I just liked the ball swishing through the net. I just like to create, the moves and watching people play so gracefully when you watch a Kobe Bryant or a Michael Jordan. I’ve just been attached to it like it was instilled in me as a child because I’ve had this since I was little. This round ball just attracted me for some reason, you know? It was just meant to be. I was given a God-given talent, I believed, I worked on it and it was instilled in me at birth.”
SLAM: Looking back on your career, is there one game that really sticks out?
JG: When I played in the WNBA it was two games back-to-back to get to the playoffs. The first one we were playing the Cleveland Rockers and I scored a three-pointer, falling on the floor, bank-shot to take us to New York to get to the playoffs. Then, I get to New York and hit a running three-pointer on the wing. I mean, the angle was horrible.
This was back-to-back nights to send us to the playoffs that year and it was just like, ‘What is going on here?’” It was like Angels in the Outfield or in the Arena. I mean, it was just amazing how that happened back-to-back nights to help us get to the playoffs. Those are my fondest memories of the WNBA for sure.
SLAM: What’s the best experience you’ve had in your life that you may not have had without the game of basketball?
JG: I think the overseas experience. I would not have been able to travel and see the world without basketball. There is no way. I mean, I lived in Italy for ten years, I’ve been to Greece and Turkey. I’ve seen a lot of countries and had it not been for basketball, none of that would have happened and I’m just so grateful for that. To me, that was an experience that you’ll never forget and the experience of a lifetime. Man, how basketball has brought me a long way.
SLAM: What is your legacy as a basketball player?
JG: That I would be remembered as one of those players that wasn’t only a great player, but a person who gave credibility or character to the game. A person that had great sportsmanship that touched lives in something bigger than basketball because that’s what it’s all about. When we’re on the court, we’ll compete, but I want people to say ‘she gave it all both on and off the court.’