Tina Thompson (Seattle) is the WNBA’s last original player. Fittingly, the 38-year-old Thompson, the league’s first player selected in 1997 who since has played in every season, was named as an All-Star replacement player by WNBA President Laurel Richie.
As a result, Thompson, the 2000 All-Star MVP and the W’s all-time leader in points, field goals and minutes played, last weekend set a league record ninth All-Star appearance in 12 seasons. “Anytime you get asked to play in the All-Star Game, it is a great honor,” she said. “I actually didn’t know that I set the record for appearances until I got here.”
“She is a great person to come in and let everybody, let all the fans give her that last [applause],” said Minnesota’s Seimone Augustus of Thompson. “It is a great way for her to go out.”
Although she didn’t score, Thompson afterwards said how proud she was to be a part of her final All-Star contest. “You were able to see the future of our league in a lot of ways with the young kids that were out there, how good they were, the plays they made down the stretch,” said the forward.
“[Thompson was] overlooked a little bit by the outside world because she always played with so many stars or outgoing personalities,” noted Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi. “But I always say that Tina was the best player I have ever played with, hands down.”
The MSR talked to Thompson the day before the July 27 contest at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. She admitted that her fondest All-Star memories include hanging out with the players.
With still a half-season to go before her retirement, Thompson said, “I think it’s really cool that so many people have showed me so much love and appreciates what I have done for the game. But right now I am just enjoying it.”
A certain Hall of Famer, Thompson played on the league’s first four championships in Houston, often overshadowed by Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl Swoopes. She later was selected to the WNBA’s All-Decade Team in 2006 and named to the league’s Top 15 Players two seasons ago.
“I have been able to have a lot of success that most players just don’t get in terms of winning championships and being able to play with some extremely talented players. I have been pretty lucky. I’m really OK and happy where I am.”
“I was a little disappointed we didn’t get the win but…I still had fun,” said first-time All-Star Washington Mystics guard Ivory Latta, who finished with an East team-high 15 points with Chicago’s Epiphanny Prince. She also won $100 for swishing a half-court shot during Friday’s practice; the 5’-6” guard actually made two such shots.
“I enjoy playing alongside them instead of against them,” said Los Angeles’ Candace Parker on playing with four Lynx players — Minnesota and the Sparks are currently one-two respectively for the Western Conference top spot. Parker won MVP honors with a game-high 23 points in her first All-Star contest.
“Yeah, I am old, officially,” said Indiana’s Tamika Catchings on her eighth All-Star Game. “I don’t feel older. I feel young.”
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