Editor's note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she speaks with...
Editor’s note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she speaks with Storm forward Tina Thompson, who announced on Friday she’d retire after this season. The league’s inaugural No. 1 draft pick in 1997, Thompson is a four-time WNBA champion.
Seattle Times: Retiring isn’t surprising after your storied career, but why announce it now instead of toward the end of the season?
Tina Thompson: I wanted to do it that way, but in talking to the WNBA and my agent, they felt it probably wouldn’t be the best idea considering I’ve played for such a long time and done some cool things, that it would be good to just announce it and give everyone a chance to say goodbye.
ST: You’re not a “farewell tour” person, right?
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Thompson: We’re not going to call it that. I don’t want a circus. I’m here to play basketball. Our team is a lot different. There are new faces, unfamiliarity. We need as much focus as we can. Once we get ready to play, I don’t want anything deterring us from where we need to be to compete. It takes a lot of time and standing. I’m not looking forward to that part.
ST: When Lisa Leslie retired in 2009, she was honored in every city, even Seattle, and you were on that team. What was it like?
Thompson: I didn’t like that. Sometimes it took more time than (when) we warmed up. From that perspective? No. It’s not me and I feel like it took away from our game a little bit. It is a celebration but our purpose is so much more than me leaving.
ST: Your son Dyllan is 9-years-old, that played a factor, too?
Thompson: I played in Korea (last year), so I’ve been home schooling him. I don’t know many moms who home-school and have a job. It’s a lot. We spend quite a bit of time in the gym and then go home and have a seven-hour school session. It’s grueling. Sometimes we’re doing school work until midnight. He doesn’t want me to retire, but I don’t think that’s something a kid should have to do And … I’m 38! It’s been 17 seasons!
ST: I know!
Thompson: No matter how it looks to everybody else, these old bones. (Storm coach) Brian (Agler) was like, ‘You could play five more years.’ Are you serious? The recovery is different at age 38. Once I’m dialed in, it’s cool. Afterwards, sometimes I wake up in the morning walking on my heels. That’s not cute.
ST: Do you feel you’re leaving the WNBA in good hands?
Thompson: I do. When you look at somebody like a Diana (Taurasi), Seimone (Augustus), Tamika Catchings; they have a sense of ownership, and rightfully so because they’ve put in the work and have been consistent. They’ve also seen the struggle and how we’ve progressed. I don’t put expectations on the younger girls because they don’t know.
ST: What will you do now?
Thompson: I would like to be a television analyst. I won’t be too far away from the game. I’ve grown up on it. I’ll be a fan. But being courtside at every game is unlikely. I’m going to enjoy my summers.