By Roger Zotti
Before the August 6 Connecticut Sun-Los Angeles Sparks game at Mohegan Sun Casino, the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) announced its inaugural class of former Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) players. Founded in 1992 by basketball greats Dave Cowens, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave DeBusschere, and Oscar Robertson, the NBRPA has 600-plus former National Basketball Association, American Basketball Association, and Harlem Globetrotters members.
Teresa Weatherspoon made basketball history by becoming the first WNBA player selected to join the NBRPA. Currently head women’s basketball coach at Louisiana Tech, Weatherspoon, a two-time U.S. Olympian, began her WNBA career in 1997 with the New York Liberty, retiring in 2004 as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks.
“With a world-class basketball legacy and dedication to give back and serve the community, ladies like Teresa embody the traits we seek from NBRPA members,” said Otis Birdsong, a four-time NBA All Star and NBRPA Chairman of the Board.
In addition to Weatherspoon, former WNBA players Sheryl Swoopes, Penny Toler, Dawn Staley, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, Nikki McCray, and Carla McGhee were selected. A three-time Olympian, Sheryl Swoopes began her career in 1997 with the Houston Comets and retired as a member of the Seattle Storm in 2008. She helped Houston win WNBA championships in 1998, 1999, and 2000. From 1997 to 1999 Penny Toler played point guard for Los Angeles and was, the NBRPA website reports, “the first player to score a basket in a WNBA game.” She is now the Sparks’ President & General Manager. Dawn Staley is a three-time U.S. Olympian and began her WNBA career in 1999 with the Charlotte Sting. A six-time WNBA All-Star, today she’s women’s head basketball coach at the University of South Carolina.
Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, a three-time WNBA All-Star, was a member of Houston’s 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000 championship teams. A two-time Olympian, she retired in 2003. She was twice named the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player. Nikki McCray’s WNBA career began in 1998 with the Washington Mystics. She was a three-time WNBA All-Star and a Gold Medal winner with U.S. Olympic team, in 1996. Today she’s assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of South Carolina. A star at the University of Tennessee, Carla McGhee was a Gold Medal winner with the 1996 U.S. Olympic team. She began her WNBA career with the Orlando Miracle in 1999, retiring in 2003.
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