October 17, 2017

VIDEO: Kym Hampton reminisces about the very first WNBA game, her life leading up to the WNBA and after

The legendary FIRST center of the New York Liberty basketball team (WNBA), Kym Hampton, stopped by the What’s The 411TV studio and gave us a wide-ranging interview. Kym Hampton, talked to the What’s The 411Sports team of Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald about how she got interested in basketball, why she chose Arizona State University, how she was able to excel at basketball even though there were virtually no women basketball players as role models when she was in high school, the WNBA, and at the end of the day, life.

After college, with no real professional basketball options in the United States, Kym like other women collegiate basketball players at the time, traveled overseas to play basketball professionally. Eager to leave her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and explore the world with wanderlust in her heart, Kym did not allow oceans and different languages and cultures get in the way of her love of the sport of basketball. While playing in Spain and Italy, she learned to speak Spanish and Italian, which she demonstrates during the interview.

The Road to the WNBA

Kym Hampton’s road to the WNBA came as a surprise, she knew eventually there would be a women’s professional basketball league in the U.S., but she didn’t expect it to come before she hung up her sneakers. Kym gives an honest inside look into what it was like the first day of the first WNBA season. She even talks about how she wasn’t exactly happy to be on a team in New York City because her friends and other players she knew were playing in Cleveland for the Cleveland Rockers. Good thing, it didn’t work out, because the Rockers were dissolved in 2003. As time went on, Kym understood quickly what playing in New York City could do for one’s career.

UCONN Women’s Basketball

Mike McDonald asked Kym if she thought the UCONN women’s basketball team losing in the Final Four round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament would be a good thing for women’s basketball going forward.

“I don’t think it should be dependent upon whether UCONN wins or loses, or that they’re dominant,” Kym Hampton said. “I really think that every program, every individual that plays should really put effort into and focus on what they can do to get better to compete against a UCONN. Guess what, Geno (Geno Auriemma, UCONN women’s basketball head coach)has the opportunity to get the best players in the world…Don’t forget that he pushes those players mentally and physically harder than probably most programs. I heard that if you want the cushy feeling, you’re doing a great job, Mike, I’m proud of you (with her arm around Mike’s shoulders demonstrating what Geno and many coaches would probably do), you’re not getting that from Geno from what they say. But, he’s building character, he’s building strength, just so you can be prepared in these situations.”

“But there going to be like anyone else,” Hampton continued. “They are going to have some great recruiting seasons and then they are going to have some lulls where they’re not and that’s what it was.”

And, then Kym Hampton put on her general manager hat.

“I think our focus is wrong…I think players should challenge themselves to want to go to other programs, to build other programs up, Hampton stated. “I think coaches should challenge themselves to really learn to utilize the talent that they have and to improve on decision-making, improve on people skills…UCONN is going to be UCONN…they are like everyone else, they can be beat.”

Life After Basketball

Keisha Wilson asked Kym Hampton what has she been doing since retiring as a professional basketball player?

Kym likes to sing and wanted to be a professional model, but because she is shy, she didn’t push herself. It seems ironic, but Kym loves public speaking.  When Kym is on the speaking circuit and particularly at high schools, the one thing that she sees that is so striking is that so many high school girls are very shy.

“We weren’t created to fit in and belong,” Kym tells the girls. “We were created to shine as an individual. We each have our own individual DNA." I love motivating and inspiring girls and women.”

"I love motivating and inspiring girls and women," Kym continued.

With a bit of self-reflection that highly motivated people do, Kym added, “I’m not quite where I want to be, so it’s still a transition. But it’s partly me, understanding and knowing how to ask, make the ask, and who to ask, and just being diligent. My thing is I don’t want to be a pest to people. Sometimes, in order to make things happen, I can’t do the things that I was created to do if I don’t make the ask to make it happen.”

No truer words were spoken; I hear you loud and clear. Note to self!

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez becomes the Nets leading scorer passing Buck Williams with 10,444 points

In this episode of What's The 411Sports, Keisha and Mike are talking about

1) Oklahoma City Thunder guard, Russell Westbrook, breaking Oscar Robertson's 55-year-old record of 41 triple-doubles in a season and whether that makes him worthy of being the 2017 NBA MVP.

2) Professional golfer Sergio Garcia wins the PGA Masters

3) Tony Romo is hanging up his cleats as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys and is going to the broadcast booth. However, the question is will Romo make it to the NFL Hall of Fame, and;

4) Brook Lopez, the center for the Brooklyn Nets and side-kick to Jeremy Lin, breaks a Buck Williams’ 28-year-old scoring record

WNBA legend, Kym Hampton, is our special guest. Ms. Hampton is the first center for the New York Liberty, and the woman, who along with Basketball Hall of Famer, Lisa Leslie, did the ceremonial tip to usher in the Women’s National Basketball Association. Ms. Hampton takes us down memory lane and is providing a good deal of life lessons whether you are an athlete or not.

Today, the New York Liberty, a WNBA team, issued a statement that Tanisha Wright will not be joining the team during the 2017 WNBA Season.

“I want to inform our fans that Tanisha Wright has decided she will take time away from the game to rest during the 2017 WNBA season,” Isiah Thomas, New York Liberty President, said via a press release. “Tanisha has the full support of the New York Liberty organization as she does what is best for her health and future.”

“Tanisha has played a pivotal role in all our success both on and off the court over the past two seasons,” Thomas continued. “As a leader in the locker room and the community; she has been a tremendous ambassador for the WNBA and our franchise. We wish her all of the best as she takes time to rest and recover, and hope to see her back in a New York Liberty uniform in the future.”

A graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, Wright was drafted by the Seattle Storm (WNBA) 12th overall in 2005. Wright helped the Seattle Storm win its second championship in 2010. On February 2, 2015, Wright signed as a free agent with the New York Liberty. In between WNBA seasons, Wright has played on overseas teams in Israel, France, Poland, and Turkey, where she is currently playing according to Wikipedia.

Tanisha Wright, Kiah Stokes, and Tina Charles gained history-making stats; Sugar Rodgers came up big with points at the right time

It was yet another memorable night in the World’s Most Famous Arena as the New York Liberty took on the Dallas Wings. Coming off a win 15-point road win against the San Antonio Stars, the ladies of New York defeated the Wings 91-88. This victory wasn’t the only accomplishment that took place in the arena on Tuesday night, Liberty vet Tanisha Wright recorded her 1,000th career rebound making her the 11th player in WNBA history to record 2,500 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds. Kiah Stokes also moved higher in the ranks clinching the 6th spot in New York Liberty history with 89 blocks. To top it all off Tina Charles hit a career high after she nailed three 3-pointers against the Wings, she never played a game where she completed more than one shot from beyond the arc.

The Liberty had an explosive first half capped off by two early shots made by Carolyn Swords, who has been  indispensable in the paint this season. However, the team struggled in the early moments and was down by as much as eight points. The Wings were able to capitalize off of New York’s miscommunication which allowed them to score four points off of the Liberty’s four turnovers. Dallas stars Odyssey Sims and Karima Christmas demonstrated their skills from beyond the arc early in the game after nailing two treys apiece. Nearly half of Dallas 26 points in the first half came from -three pointers. However rising Liberty star, Sugar Rodgers carried the team on her back once she displayed her skills from the three point line with less than two minutes remaining in the quarter. She soon followed up with the and-1 to tie it up 22-22 before the start of the second quarter. Rodgers scored 8 of her 18 points in the first quarter alone.

After only scoring 6 points in the first quarter, Charles led her team with 11 points in the second to outscore the Wings by 10 before the half. The Liberty was able to slow down the Wings defense forcing them to commit five turnovers and shoot 45.9% from the field. The Libs walked into the locker room with a 6-point lead (56-50). After soaring through the third the Liberty led by as much as 10 over the Wings, but the 4th quarter became a nail biter when Dallas came back and maintained a 4-point lead in the final minutes. Stokes served as the saving grace for her team after she deflected a lay-up attempt by Wings forward Christmas. This led to a sweet trey by Rodgers which sparked off a 6-0 run for Liberty. Charles led all scorers with 28 points and her late jumper in those final seconds bought the Liberty to their 91-88 win over the Dallas Wings.

With this win, the Liberty improved to a 6-4 record putting them second in the eastern conference. They hope to add to their two-game winning streak when they face off against the Connecticut Sun on  tonight. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm eastern standard time.

Looking Ahead at WNBA’s 20th Year: new president Lisa Borders, Diana Taurasi returns, and it’s the last season for 10-time WNBA all-star Tamika Catchings

Last week was a historic week for the world of sports. The Golden State Warriors set the best record in NBA history, Kobe Bryant dropped 60 points in his final career game and the 20th WNBA Draft took place at the Mohegan Sun Arena for the third consecutive year. Thirty-six of the nation’s best women collegiate athletes were selected into the WNBA on Thursday night. For the first time in the history of the WNBA Draft, the top three selections all came from the same school. The Huskies from the University of Connecticut took the top three spots and dominated the first round of the draft just like they dominated the NCCA Championship earlier this year.

As expected, Breanna Stewart was selected first overall by the Seattle Storm, this is the second year that the Storm has had the number one pick. Expectations are set high for the 6’4 forward, she is a 4-time NCAA champion, 3-time player of the year and she is the only player to be named the NCAA Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player four years in a row. The Storm has not won a championship since 2010, hopefully, Stewart can keep her championship streak going at the professional level. The No.2 pick went to the San Antonio Stars, who selected Texas native, Moriah Jefferson. The Huskie also has 4 championship titles under her belt and was named the American Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Jefferson set a school record with a total of 659 career assist not to mention she is a 46% 3-point-shooter. Her versatility on the court is just what the Stars need this season.

It was a big night for the Connecticut Sun, who went home with two consecutive first round picks. Coming in at No.3 was Morgan Tuck from UConn. Aside from becoming a champion for the fourth time in her career, Tuck finished her final year with an assist-turnover ratio of 2.1/1, which was the second-best in the league. The No.4 selection, also for the Connecticut Sun, was Rachel Banham from the University of Minnesota. She is most remembered for her 60-point game earlier in the season, a performance that was recognized and duplicated by NBA star Kobe Bryant. Banham was named the 2016 BIG 10 player of the year and has set the all-time scoring record with 3,093 career points. The Dallas Wings, formerly known as the Tulsa Shock had the No.5 pick and they selected Aerial Powers from Michigan State. Powers is a 3-time first team All-American and set a school record with 47 career double-doubles.

The Los Angeles Sparks selected Jonquel Jones of George Washington as the No.6 overall draft pick, Jones is the only player to average a double-double for 3 consecutive seasons. At No.7, the Washington Mystics selected Kahleah Cooper of Rutgers University. Cooper sits at No.3 on Rutgers all-time scoring list behind, Cappie Pondexter and Sue Wicks. Courtney Williams of the University of Southern Florida was selected 8th overall by the Phoneix Mercury. The Indiana Fever selected Tiffany Mitchell as the 9th overall pick. Mitchell played for the University of Southern California and led her team with 85 assists this season. The 10th overall selection went to the Chicago Sky who picked Imani Boyette. Boyette played for Texas State and was named the BIG 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Boyette is the daughter of WNBA legend Pamela McGee, they are the first mother-daughter duo to have played for the league. The Atlanta Dream selected Bria Holmes of West Virginia 11th overall. The New York Liberty wrapped up the first round selecting Adut Bulgak 12th overall. Bulgak is a 6’4 center out of Florida State and was an Honorable Mention All-American in 2015.

Fans have a lot to look forward to this season as Diana Taurasi will make her return to the Phoenix Mercury, newly acquired WNBA president Lisa Borders will participate in her first active season and most importantly this will be the last season for 10-time WNBA all-star Tamika Catchings. The WNBA’s historic 20th anniversary season will kick off on May 14th.

VIDEO DISCUSSION: First time Liberty has made the playoffs since 2012, also first WNBA team to reach 20 wins

The NY Liberty clinched its first playoff berth since 2012 and are the first WNBA team to reach 20 wins this season. In fact, this is the first time the Liberty reached 20 wins in 5 years!

Additionally, rookie Kiah Stokes recorded her THIRD career double-double against the Connecticut Sun. Talk about #BURNINGBRIGHT.

Welcome back to What's The 411Sports, and the following events are in the pipeline:

On Tuesday, September 1, the New York Liberty will take on the Atlanta Dream at Madison Square Garden. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m.

On Thursday, September 3, the Liberty will play the Chicago Sky at Madison Square Garden at 7:00 P.M.

The 2015 US OPEN for tennis will be held on August 31 – September 13.

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Despite loss Liberty still No. 1 in Eastern Conference; but where is the media coverage?

 

 

VIDEO Discussion: Freedom Williams Weighs in on New York Liberty and Women's Sports

New York Liberty’s Epiphany Prince dropped a season-high 30 points against her former team the Chicago Sky! She also surpassed Liberty top scorer Tina Charles’ game-high Friday night and the team has the best record in the Eastern Conference as of now. If the Liberty continues to play at this level they will have a golden ticket to the playoffs!!!

SEE VIDEO: 2015 WNBA All-Star Game Report

The WNBA Western Conference won the 2015 WNBA All-Star game held on July 25th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, defeating the Eastern Conference 117-112.

Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore was the game’s MVP scoring a record 30 points for a WNBA All-Star game. Additionally, Moore posted six rebounds and five assists.

New York Liberty center Tina Charles led all scorers with 13 points in the first half.

This is the last WNBA All-Star appearance for Tamika Catchings, who holds a record 10 WNBA All-Star Game appearances; she is retiring in 2016.

For more detail about the game see The 2015 WNBA All-Star Game: New Records and End of an Era.

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