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Published on September 1st, 2019 | by Landon Buford

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Cappie Pondexter Talks Legacy and Being an Inspiration for the Next Generation

USA Today

On April 16th, 2019, Cappie Pondexter announced her retirement on Instagram, according to ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel. The former Finals MVP won two championships as a member of the Phoenix Mercury alongside Diana Taurasi and won a gold model in 2008.  The Mercury drafted Pondexter with the second pick in the 2006 WNBA draft.

During the next three seasons that Cappie was in Phoenix, the Mercury reached the mountain top two out three seasons before Pondexter requested a trade to New York in 2010.  She would play in New York from 2010- 2015, before being traded to the Chicago Sky in exchange for Epiphanny Prince in February of 2015. Pairing Pondexter with former regular-season MVP, Elena Delle Donne, who led the Sky to the WNBA Finals the year before.  Two would play two seasons together before  Delle Donne was traded to the Washington Mystics in exchange for Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper and the second overall pick in the 2017 WNBA draft.  Delle Donne recently spoke about her former teammate Pondexter deciding to call it a career.

“I love Cappie she a great player and played with all-out heart. So, I wish she could have gotten a better goodbye tour, but she had one hell of a career. I’m super proud of what she did in the WNBA,” said Delle Donne.

Former New York Liberty guard Tiffany Bias shared with The Hype Magazine during a recent interview that Cappie Pondexter was an influencer and inspired players such as herself.

“Cappie is one of the All-time greats just watching her play growing up. Her pride, passion, and it crazy how some many players from my generation took things from her game because she is an inspiring guard. She always had a chip on her shoulder to fuel her to play hard all the time, but she was an influencer. On and off the court and she left her mark on the women’s game. It is sad to see someone that can still play in this league retire, but everyone knows when it’s their time, and they feel like they have given it all to the game. We will miss Cap and what she brings to the game of basketball, said Bias.

“Cappie Pondexter is one of the greatest players and fiercest competitors in WNBA history,” NBA Deputy Commissioner and COO Mark Tatum, told ESPN back in April. “She made her mark on the league with her vibrant personality and distinctive style, earning two WNBA championships and seven All-Star selections along the way. We expect more great things from her in whatever she does next and wish her nothing but the best.”

Cappie Pondexter recently spoke with The Hype Magazine about her legacy and life after professional basketball.

Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselbeck shared with that if approached, and they would consider investing in WNBA franchises. What are your thoughts on that, and how would it help grow the league?

I think it is fantastic when having guys of their caliber and statue willing to invest in the company. The WNBA has been around for 24 years now, and to have the credibility that we have grown. As well as people wanting to invest in the league to improve it, I think it is excellent. As a former player, it’s a great feeling.

Before the 2019- 2020 season you announced that you would be retiring from the WNBA. What are some of the ventures you plan to pursue?

Honestly, I want to stay close to the game when I have opportunities to give back to the community, and I do it through the Nike Brand with USA Basketball, Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA. I give back to the game because it allows me so many opportunities, and it has blessed me in numerous ways. So, I must give back the game, but I still have other passions such as fashion, and I love entertainment. So, will probably start taking acting classes and try to get acclimated into the big screen. I stay in the music industry; I grew up with love for music just as much as basketball. So, trying to find new talent and finding out where they want to grow as artists. There are many opportunities, and I am a very talented person, that there isn’t a lane. There so many things to do, and I am looking forward to the next phase of my career. Whatever opportunities come my way that makes sense with my lifestyle, I will look at them.

What are you going to miss the most about being an active professional athlete?

I will miss the engagement with the fans daily, whether having appearances or at a game. I know during the season when having the opportunity to connect with fans on a much deeper level. I think that is what I’ll miss the most because they don’t have access to me now that I retired.  So, I will miss the engagement with the fans.

You recently participated in Chicago Park District and Nike Girls Camp. Can talk about being able to partner with Nike and giving back to your hometown of Chicago?

I have been a part of Nike since I was 15 years old, and being a part of the family, it’s significant. We are always trying to find innovated ways to give back to the community. Growing up in Chicago, I know what the kids go through daily from getting up and trying to go to school — not being in a stable environment. I think me sparking their interest and showing them no matter what we are faced with will make it out to be successful. So, I like it spread that type of energy, and I think that is the most important model that they can see. Any opportunity Nike gives me, I take part in it, especially when it comes to Chicago.

Chicago is the site for this year’s All-Star game. Do you plan on being in Chicago for all the festivities?

Of course! I wouldn’t miss that for the world. I mean I don’t remember the last time the city of Chicago hosted an NBA All-Star game. So, it will be a memory, and it is something I would love to be part of, and I must experience. The city did so well with Complex Con, and that kind of energy is necessary to help the city get over the negative context that we face daily.

Last season, all of the fans felt Derrick Rose was snubbed in this past season’s All-Star Game. Do you think that the NBA would snub him again in Chicago?

He deserves to be there, and being in the NBA or WNBA is a privilege. Out all the millions of individuals who work on their games to make it to the professional level. There are only 450 spots available, and Derrick Rose has had that spot for seven to eight years now? That’s great and awesome no matter what level or value it is. It’s still greatness, Derrick is a really good friend of mine, and I would love for him to get the opportunity to represent the city of Chicago in this year’s NBA All-Star Game.

NBA 2k just recently announced that they would be adding WNBA players to this year’s game. When you first heard this was happening, what were some of the thoughts that came to mind?

Honestly, I didn’t hear anything about it until it was announced on social media. I think it is excellent. It is empowering for younger kids to play the game and even adults. We are finally able to showcase our hard work to be put in the game, and I think it is excellent that Ronnie has given us the opportunity for the young ladies to be part of the game.

Teresa Weatherspoon is going into the Hall of Fame later this year. Can you share with us how she was able to influence your game at the guard position throughout your career?

I had the opportunity to play under T-Spoon for five years when I played in New York. I know when I first started dreaming about possibly playing in the WNBA, T-Spoon was that energy that the league highlighted. When she played in The Garden, she owned The Garden. Any basketball player will tell you that energy has not been matched.

I think I did a great job of trying to attempt to match her energy, but when thinking about any player that played in the Garden T-Spoon name comes up. That’s a player you can ever go into The Garden and not talk about, to see her nominated for her hard work, it just shows the impact on a lot of people and players in the game of basketball. I am very happy for her, and she inspired me through my career, and I am forever in debt to her.

Tiffany Bias talked about how you were an inspiration to players around the league. When you hear that from some of the up & coming players, what does that mean to you?

It means a lot because when are going through the whirlwind and trying to be the best player can be. You don’t really take all of that in until later, and I appreciate Tiffany Bias. She is a young lady that reaches out to me often to ask about things. When players take the time to reach out, it makes me feel great, that my hard work on and off the court didn’t go unnoticed. And I was able to inspire someone that has the same passion as myself. Tiffany is an amazing young woman.

What did the city of Chicago miss with the combination of Elena Delle Donne and Cappie Pondexter?

I intended to bring a championship to the city. LeBron James just brought one to Cleveland the year before I moved to Chicago, and my thought process was, if he could bring a championship to Akron, I could do the same for Chicago. Having a player like Elena Delle Donne, who reminds me of an early Diana Taurasi in a sense and I jump at the opportunity. Ironically, there was a lot of issues with the management that I wasn’t aware of and tried to play the mediator, but unfortunately, it is a business that is something we must remember. That is something that we must not forget as players and fans. Something things happen, and the players must do what’s best for them and their families. Elena wanted to be close to her family, and I think it was a tremendous solid move, and Washington is an excellent fit for her. So, I look forward to following her, and I always wish the best to the Chicago Sky.

What was it about Diana and yourself that made you so dangerous to the rest of the league?

I think because we were fire!  We were competitors, and I’m not trying to toot my own horn on this, but I haven’t seen two players on the same squad, who competed at such a high level at the same time all the time. It was so much fun working with her; we built a friendship that I think will last longer than our basketball careers.

I look forward to when she finally retires so we can sit back and enjoy some wine and talk about the memories we created at a young age and is one of the best players I have ever played against and played with. So, big ups to Diana Taurasi because she is a legend for real.

How much did Allen Iverson inspire you growing up in Chicago?

First, I would have to say it was Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and then Allen Iverson. You have Michael Jordan, who gave a voice and the face for black athletes, globally, then you think about Kobe, who was a global phenomenon because he grew up in Europe. He can speak all these different languages and cultured. Then you have Allen Iverson, who was a voice for the urban community and those communities saw one that made and could follow suit. Allen Iverson made his own moves and his own style with the du-rags and the baggy clothes. He is a culture, and we are starting to see the things he implemented come full circle. Allen was the voice of a lot of people, male and female. He’s the G.O.A.T in my eyes, and I love him so much!

Jamal Crawford is still considered to have the best handles in the NBA, and you were believed to have the best in the WNBA. How do you feel your games were similar throughout your career?

Jamal Crawford probably has the record for most four-point plays ever. I don’t think I reached that level, but for sure the way we handled the ball is in an elite class. I took pieces of his game and implemented it into mine. I’m sure he could say the same thing. Jamal Crawford is a legend, and I hope he can finish his career the way he wants to. He came up in that era with Allen Iverson and me.  To see him handle the ball the way he did throughout his career is crazy. If I had a kid or you are mentoring a kid Jamal is the type of player to go watch on YouTube without question. To see Jamal Crawford as a part of NBA history is a testament of his hard work throughout his career.

What do you want your legacy to be at the end of the day?

I’m just a winner that’s it. No matter the situation that is thrown my way, I get up and I win. I don’t quit on myself, especially during my first career. I’m going to use that mentality as a transition into the next phase of my life. I’m three months removed from retiring, and now I’m trying to enjoy that. I look forward to winning at the end of the day, and my legacy is going to spell out winning.


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About the Author

Washington State Graduate Past Interviews include Grammy Award Winner Kenny G, David Banner, WNBA President Lisa Borders, What's Trending's CEO Shira Lazar, Ice Cube, NBC's Chicago PD LaRoyce Hawkins, Family Matters Darius McCrary, En Vogues Maxine Jones, Team USA Track & Field Member Norris Frederick, James Kyson, WNBA Great Lauren Jackson, and more.


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