Q+A: Cappie Pondexter
Catching up with the New York Liberty guard.
by Sherron Shabazz / @SherronShabazz
The city of Chicago produces ballers, and New York Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter is one of them. At just 5-9, the fearless Pondexter plays much bigger than her size. Like other Chicago guards Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose, Pondexter goes hard in the paint.
The WNBA’s fifth leading scorer at 19.1 ppg, Pondexter is tied for the third highest career scoring average in league history (19.3). In just her seventh season, Pondexter is 18th in WNBA history in total points scored (4,108), and 20th in total assists (917).
Pondexter is a four-time WNBA All-Star and a two-time WNBA champion as a member of the Phoenix Mercury. The former Rutgers Scarlet Knight left the Valley of the Sun in 2010 to bring her winning ways back to the Big Apple.
Before a recent road game against the Chicago Sky, we caught up with Pondexter. Cappie discussed growing up playing basketball in Chicago, winning a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, and her goal of winning a third WNBA championship.
SLAM: What does it mean to you to come back and play in Chicago?
Cappie Pondexter: It means a great deal, playing in front of my family most importantly, and my fans and friends. That’s the most important thing.
SLAM: What’s your best memory of playing at Marshall High School?
CP: Winning the state title in my junior year after losing in my sophomore year really bad.
SLAM: Who did you lose to?
CP: Olga Gvozdenovic. I think it was New Trier. [Note: Olga Gvozdenovic played for Loyola Academy]
SLAM: What is it about players from Chicago that go pro that they all have similar games? D Wade, D Rose, and yourself, you all play the same style of game.
CP: Playing on the playgrounds and being aggressive you’re always in attack mode. Any guard that comes out of Chicago, that’s probably the number one thing that we have the most, that toughness and tenacity to get to the basket and score.
SLAM: Another Rutgers alumnus, Epiphanny Prince, was having a great season until her foot injury. Her game is a little similar to yours, talk about the similarities that you see in your game and Piph’s.
CP: I think she has a great all-around game. There’s not too many players that can do everything and she has the ability to do everything. That’s probably the most similar thing that she has like myself.
SLAM: You won a gold medal in 2008, what does it mean for you to go to London and represent the United States once again?
CP: I’m not sure if I’m going back but winning a gold medal was definitely great.
SLAM: No? I thought you were selected?
CP: Nah, they didn’t select me.
SLAM: What? What’s that about?
CP: I have no idea. You have to ask them.
SLAM: Well, who got selected over you?
CP: I don’t know. You need to know that [laughs]. But it was great. It was a great experience. I brought my mom and I put the gold medal around her neck after the national anthem and it was a great feeling.
SLAM: How does the break for the Olympics affect teams when the season begins again?
CP: I don’t know. This is my first time ever experiencing this. We’ll see. I think we got great stuff lined up individually as well as when we practice collectively. So I’m excited just to rest and head into the second half with a fresh start.
SLAM: Your team has struggled a little this season (6-10). What do you attribute the team’s struggles to?
CP: It’s a lot of new things that were implemented and we got a lot of new players. Change is always difficult to adjust to but it’s still early. We have the second half and if we get ourselves to .500 we’ll be fine.
SLAM: What does the team have to do rack up some more W’s and get back to the playoffs?
CP: Just win. We just gotta win at whatever cost.
SLAM: Do you have personal goals for this season?
CP: Yeah, of course, to win a title. That’s always my challenge individually, team wise, and for the organization.
SLAM: Winning a championship never gets old?
CP: Never, never. And I’m really hungry for another one so…
SLAM: You’re top 20 all-time in points and assists. When it’s all said and done what do you want people to say about Cappie Pondexter?
CP: That I was just a tough motherfucker and I always competed and I always wanted to win.