Swoopes Enjoying Today

by July 07, 2008

By Stephen Litel

Sheryl Swoopes is, quite simply, one of the greatest female basketball players of all-time. Most everyone knows her amazing resume–WNBA fan or not. She’s positioned herself for whatever she’d like to do once her playing days finally end, whether as a broadcaster, coach or in a front office.

In the midst of her first season as a member of the Seattle Storm, Swoopes statistics aren’t where fans may expect them. Don’t mistake for a moment her lowered stats indicate a lowered desire or love for the game or that her contributions aren’t a key factor to Seattle’s playoff push. Although she’s coming off multiple injuries and surgeries, Swoopes is enjoying her new team, teammates and the game she was born to play.

Thanks to the PR staff of the Seattle Storm, Swoopes was gracious enough to answer questions from SLAM’s Stephen Litel. In a conversation regarding her injuries and her future, Swoopes comments were so eloquent and real, it seems best to post them in their entirety without edit.

On her injuries, surgeries and rehab the past two years…

“Dealing with an ACL, there was not a doubt I could come back from this. I have to go through the rehab and it’s going to be hard, but there was never a doubt in my mind I was going to come back. Now, having back surgery in the off-season, it’s a whole other injury and my mindset was like, ‘You know what? I’m done.’ Having the doctor say, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen. If you’ll be able to come back and play, I don’t know, but to be in a position where I am playing again, I’m enjoying it and it’s fun, honestly, I haven’t even thought of next year.”

“My focus right now is every single day. Coming to this gym, playing and enjoying it and you know what? Whatever happens happens. If I’m able to play next year, I’m healthy and I’m enjoying it, then absolutely. If I’m not, then I want to make the most of this season and wait until this season is over before I decide on what’s going to happen next year.”

On how her struggles changed her mindset…

“To be able to be a Mom and to go and watch my child and throw the ball with him, those are things I wasn’t able to do. Lots of times, even as an athlete, we take for granted the fact that we wake up in the morning, we can come to this gym, run up and down the court and you just don’t give it your all because you feel like, ‘Oh, I’ll come back tomorrow and make up for it.’ Being in that position where I didn’t know if that was going to happen, that’s scary. It’s scary, it’s sad, it’s frustrating, but to be able to do those things now and—knock on wood—I’m feeling better than I have for two or three years by putting in all that hard work before practice, after practice and training camp. Looking back on it, I was so frustrated. My questions were, ‘When am I going to get over this?’ or ‘When am I going to see glimpses of the old Sheryl?’”

On the thought of coaching after her retirement…

“You know, the coaching one, I go back and forth. Some days I’m like, ‘Absolutely when I’m done playing, I would love to coach.’ Then I have my days when I see how we are as players and I’m like, ‘I don’t want that job.’”

“I have people that tell me the good part about coaching and the bad part about coaching. Now, if I did coach, I would personally like to coach on the collegiate level. I’d love to start there. If an opportunity presented itself and if it was a great opportunity, then I would like to be in the WNBA. I feel like I have a lot to offer the game and I’d like to be able to do that at the collegiate level and be able to help develop some of those players and help them get to the next level. On the other side of that, be able to let them know and teach them what the next level is all about. I would like to start there.”

On the thought of working in a front office or as a GM…

“Front office position? That’s kind of interesting to me. A GM of a team? I could definitely see that and I’d like to do that. I’d also like to possibly have a front office position in the WNBA, like maybe player personnel. I just kind of feel like I’ve been around the league long enough that I kind of know what players like, what players don’t like and to be able to take the knowledge that I have as a player, take it to the next level and make players a little happier. I would love to do that.”

On how soon her playing days might be over…

“How soon is that going to happen? I don’t know. Right now, I’m at a point where I’m just happy to be playing this game again. Being in a position where I didn’t know if it was going to happen, if my career was going to end in a way that I didn’t want it to end, but to be in a position where I’m able to come back out onto this court and play, it just makes me appreciate the game all over again.”

A parting comment that should make Seattle fans happy, as well as fans around the league…

“Sitting here, talking to you today and being able to just move and do things and not hurt, oh my gosh, I feel so good. I can’t sit here and say, ‘Yeah, next year I see myself coaching or in a front office.’ I don’t know that because I feel really good right now and I just want to continue to work hard, get better and take it one day at a time. Just kind of wait and see what happens.”

“Let me just say this. If everything goes well and, God willing, this is definitely where I want to come back and play next year.”