by Stephen Litel

Players such as Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl Swoops may have taken some of the spotlight, but Tina Thompson is the preeminent face of the Houston Comets. Representing Houston’s franchise from Day One to now, Thompson’s star shines just as bright as her flashier former teammates.

In recent years, many have wondered how much longer the legend would grace the basketball court as a player. Saturday before playing the Minnesota Lynx, Thompson spoke with Stephen Litel on her future plans. Also giving a brief look back at the accomplishment on her impressive resume that brings her the most pride, Thompson continues SLAM’s discussions with the greatest players in league history.

Sheryl Swoopes last week. Tina Thompson this week. Look out, Lisa Leslie. You’re next.

Have you begun to think about how much longer you’d like to play in the WNBA?

“Yeah, I have for the last few years. Not very much longer.”

Any interest in coaching after your playing days are over?

“Absolutely not. No interest. I just don’t see myself as a coach. Maybe it’s a lack of patience.”

Any interest in a front office position or becoming a General Manager of a team?

“Probably not. I think that if I’m involved in basketball in any way, it would probably be as a color analyst or something like that. As far as coaching, front office or anything like that, I don’t see it. Who knows? I mean, I can’t predict the future, but I just don’t see it being in my interest right now.”

Why would working as a color analyst appeal to you?

“Well, I mean I just enjoy watching the game and I tried to be a student of the game when I started my career, so I think I have a pretty good grasp or knowledge of it. I think that would be something that could be appealing.”

Looking back on all your accomplishments on a basketball court, is there one that might stand out from the rest?

“I’ve been very blessed to have a lot of very good things happen to me through basketball, so to pick one out, I don’t know if I could. I mean, just getting a scholarship and being able to go to college would definitely be one of them. I went to Southern Cal, which is a very expensive university, so I don’t know if I would’ve been going there or I’d be up to my head in debt right now considering if I had to pay for it myself. I would think that would be a huge accomplishment, but I mean, I’ve won four championships in the WNBA, as well as Olympic gold medals. All of them have a special spot in my heart, so I don’t know if I could choose any of them.”

What are your overall thoughts of the WNBA from the inaugural season to now and what are your hopes for the future of the league?

“I think the growth has been great. There’s a lot more diversity from when I started. I was one of the very few young players making an impact or even playing a lot of minutes on their team because at that time we were a veteran league. I think, from that aspect, it’s grown tremendously where now you have different generations of basketball in the WNBA. You have this year’s draft picks and then you have the Seimone Augustus and Diana Taurasi and then Lisa Leslie and myself are kind of in a different class. I think just the evolution where you can separate players and kind of put them at a certain time in basketball shows the growth of the WNBA. If players like Candace Parker, Seimone Augustus and Pondexter can continue to come out of that college basketball crop, the sky’s the limit for the WNBA.”