Today, Olympic gold medalist, the first woman to be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame, and WNBA legend Cynthia Cooper sat down for an inspiring new episode of the Knuckleheads Podcast with Darius Miles & Quentin Richardson to discuss how she developed her tenacity by playing pickup games in the inner city of Los Angeles, the decade she spent dominating the basketball scene in Italy (and becoming fluent in Italian), and coming back to play for Team USA, then in the first-ever WNBA season and winning four consecutive WNBA championships with the Houston Comets, and why she is made to coach in the USA.
During the episode, Cynthia “Raise the Roof” Cooper, goes on to share how her time at USC prepared her to live abroad and take in the culture as an inner city kid, what the late Kim Perrot meant to her the Houston Comets team, her top 5 WNBA and NBA players, and much more in this motivational episode – that even made Quentin want to go back out and hoop!
Episode highlights include:
- Question: Who was the first person to bust your ass in the WNBA? (0:05): Answer: “NOBODY….Well I didn’t really play no defense. That wasn’t my role.”
- Cynthia reveals how playing with guys growing up helped develop her mentality and scoring game (5:40): “Guys instilled in me that killer instinct. …Back in the day, guys wouldn’t just let girls play with them. I couldn’t even come in the gym and call a game, I had to get my brother to call a game and select me on his team. …At the end of day, when you play with guys they don’t accept mistakes from women. …They instilled the mentality of scoring, the mentality of finishing around the rim, and the mentality of being creative when you’re going to the basket…. For me, when they let me play with girls I was like ‘Yes! This is what I’m talking about’.”
- On making the 1987 USA Basketball team (22:30): “I actually went to an open try out with everyone else…200 people. We were two days in and THEN the invited group came. Have I mentioned that I’m an assassin? You know I don’t play. I’ve got this laser, this zoom focus. I would say ‘OK who are the two guards’ – anybody on the wing – point guard, wing, anybody – I’d take them ALL down and you know why? Because I need to make this team. I never had a doubt that I would make the team. So I made the team and that started my USA Basketball career.”
- Cynthia reflects on what former teammate Kim Perrot meant to the Houston Comets (41:20): “When you talk about the soul of our team and the glue that can keep the superstars in their place, in their lane…Kim was a magician as far as that goes. And she was a scorer.”
- Cynthia looks back on her time coaching in the WNBA and makes the case for why she is better suited to be an NBA coach (48:09): “Coaching in the WNBA wasn’t really my thing….At the end of the day what I’d love to do and what I’m made to do is to coach in the NBA. They have my mentality. They want to be great. And by the way, I brought the Euro step here NOT James Harden.”
Stay-tuned for upcoming episodes featuring Shawn Kemp, George Gervin, Deron Williams, and more…Fans can look forward to new episodes on Tuesdays on all major podcast services and online at The Players’ Tribune website and video of the episodes will be available on Thursdays on The Players’ Tribune YouTube!!!