The W Exclusives: Charde Houston
On breaking records, personal improvement and the future.
Charde Houston can do just about anything on the basketball court — and do it exceedingly well.
You need her to score? She can put up 20 or more points on any given night. Need her to rebound? She’ll get you 8-10 boards a game. Need her to distribute? She can do that too. One of the most efficient players in the league today, Houston provides an added element on the court for the Minnesota Lynx that cannot be taught.
Like Shawn Marion used to do for the Phoenix Suns, Char always seems to find a way to put the ball in the basket without necessarily having a specific play drawn up for her. Her shooting percentage is high, her efficiency rating is through the roof, and she fits in well with any system.
Hence, her value to the Lynx’s future success is immeasurable.
Coming off a superb All-Star season for Minnesota (15.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.1 apg. 1.3 spg), Houston is a key member of an extremely talented core group of young players for the Lynx who look to be a strong force in the WNBA not just in 2010, but for years to come.
I caught up with Char to talk about her stellar 2009 campaign, the future for the Minnesota Lynx, and asked the burning question we all want to know – is there, perhaps, a recording/dancing career ahead for Charde Houston?
SLAM: Does it ever get old hearing that you broke Cheryl Miller’s California High School scoring record?
Charde Houston: No, that will never be old for me, or those who followed my career. That was a very pivotal moment for me because I’ve done something that nobody will be able to do for years to come. Although I have set a new record, records are meant to be broken. I hope a player is capable of reaching that milestone. It will only show that women’s basketball is improving, and more and more female athletes are able to do great things!
SLAM: You, essentially, increased and improved in every statistical category in 2009 — what do you attribute that to?
CH: I would have to attribute that to my willingness to be a better basketball player. There is not point in playing this game if you don’t want to improve. I have so much respect for those who paved the way for me. My way of respecting the game and paving the way for others is to show that hard work pays off in every aspect. Not just in basketball, but in your everyday life as well.
SLAM: The loss of Seimone Augustus was incredibly tough, yet, the Lynx still managed to fight and put together a solid year. Is there a genuine excitement in Minnesota for 2010 with the team that is assembled under Coach Jennifer Gillom?
CH: For sure because we have all of the tools necessary to make playoff runs such as we did. Each year, we get closer and closer to reaching our goal. Everyone will be back, and healthy, so we will be able to make the strong run ever toward the Playoffs. We have amazing team chemistry, and our shortcoming has fueled each and every one of us, to want work hard, and do everything that we can to fulfill our roles.
SLAM: What was it like playing in your first All-Star game in 2009?
CH: Words can’t describe how happy I was upon hearing the news. It was an experience that came so early in my career, and I am so thankful for that. From here on out, I know what it’s like to be named to the All-Star team, and I will work my hardest to try and reach that goal every year. Diana Taurasi congratulated me, and said, “This should be something that you should want to work toward every year.” She’s right. Just to be amongst the greatest players, not only in the WNBA, but in the world was so humbling. I am so thankful for being able to be a part of it all.
SLAM: In terms of popularity, how do you see the WNBA? How much did this season help the league?
CH: I would have to credit it to people like Lisa Leslie. Her retirement ceremony was amazing, and it’s an example of how everyone should want to leave the game. Will it happen that way? No, but you can strive to leave your mark on something that means so much to a lot of people. There were young talents in both my class, as well as the rookie class who are setting standards. When the ‘Greats’ leave this game, people are going to have step up and carry the torch of the WNBA, and everything that it stands for. We not only represent great athletes, we represent great women who are willing to go above and beyond to make a fan feel happy.
SLAM: Your thoughts on the 2009 WNBA Finals?
CH: I would have to say A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! That series was exciting to watch because it shows that we don’t need to dunk and shatter backboards in order to play great basketball. It takes amazing athletes to put on a performance like that. The Finals were a prime example of how the game is growing, and attracting more attention. There are so many people who I’m sure watched basketball for the first time in their lives. Those are the things that keep people coming, and remaining life long supporters of the WNBA. When we play the game, we have to remember that we not only do it for ourselves, and our families, we do it for the fans as well. We (WNBA) players do an amazing job of keeping that in mind. We play with passion, and that one of the great aspect of our game! That’s why the slogan, ‘Expect Great,’ is wonderful for us. We expect to go put on a great show every single time we step on the court.
SLAM: Here are some rapid fire questions for you. First, what is currently in your music play list?
CH: I’ve had Crystal Lewis’ “I Still Believe” on repeat for days now. I am totally in love with gospel music because it completely sets your soul free. I’m not afraid to confess my love for Christ Almighty.
SLAM: Favorite singer/band to listen to for motivation?
CH: I would have to say J.Moss. He is a gospel singer that helps me to remain calm. When I go into a game “worked up” I usually don’t play at my best.
SLAM: Favorite movie?
CH: I don’t watch too many movies. I barely watch television [laughs]. So I will go with my favorite Television show which is “The First 48.”
SLAM: What are the chances we’ll hear a Charde Houston album in the future?
CH: There is a strong possibility that I will release my album. I wanted my release date to by December 21st but it’s not looking too promising. Since it’s going to be produced by me, it is taking me some time to get my lyrics down, and find a nice beat. Although I posted some demos on twitter, I need to come really strong so I can go Platinum lol. However, I will keep you all posted.
SLAM: Twitter or Facebook?
CH: Oh, Twitter, hands down. Twitter is wonderful because I can interact with my fans, without the pictures, and long bios. You can discuss anything that you want and get immediate feedback. This social media outlet has hit the nail right on the head. Fans are able to interact with those whom they love the most! It develops more personal relationships between the player and the fan. Fans feel more connected in a sense that they get to see you for who you really are.
SLAM: Hidden talent?
CH: I love to skate, and I used to be so good at it. Since I haven’t skated in a long time, I’m not exactly sure if I have what it takes to be a professional. When I was younger, I could do every single trick possible. I was so advanced; I even owned my own pair of black shiny roller skates!
SLAM: Favorite dance move besides ‘the old man?’
CH: [Laughs] The old man was just a dance that my best friend and I made up on the way to mall of America. Maybe one day, I will become popular! Anyone that knows me knows that I love to dance. I typically know all of the dance moves. If I don’t know something, I practice in front of a mirror until I learn the dance. For me, it is another way to exercise off of the court. It also helps me to step away form basketball for a little while, and express myself through the art of dancing.