WNBA All-Stars Eager To Praise Retiring Staley

By John Smallwood
Updated: July 13, 2006

NEW YORK – Numbers are quantifiable permanents, but sometimes, the details surrounding them fade with time.

In the case of Dawn Staley, who is retiring as a player at the conclusion of 2006 WNBA season, that would be a shame.

Three Olympic gold medals (1996, 2000, 2004); two FIBA world championships (1998, 2002); two NCAA National Player of the Year Awards and three Final Fours at the University of Virginia; founding member of the American Basketball League, four WNBA All-Star teams and a spot on the just-announced 10-player WNBA All-Decade Team.

They all tell only a part of Staley’s impact on women’s basketball.

Considering the number of people who have played with and against Staley at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night, the 2006 WNBA All-Star Game was the perfect place to find the rest of the story: � “It’s been since 1989 until now, that’s how long I’ve played with Dawn. We started together when we were kids in the national program. The things that come to my mind when I think of Dawn are love, loyalty and heart. That completely defines the person she is.” – Los Angeles Sparks center Lisa Leslie, Staley’s teammate on the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic champions, the 1998 and 2002 FIBA world champions and WNBA All-Decade Team.

� “I can remember her doing stuff at the University of Virginia in the Final Four that still stick in my mind. She encompasses so much that you just can’t pinpoint one thing. You have to say that she’s an ambassador on all levels.” – Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and ESPN commentator Nancy Lieberman.

� “What she’s done for the game and what she continues to do for the game by being a coach [Temple University and assistant for 2006 USA women’s world championship team] is phenomenal. She’s just good people.” – Detroit Shock forward Katie Smith, a 2000 and 2004 Olympic champion, WNBA All-Decade Team.

� “She’s different, but the same. You still see that hard work and determination on the floor. She has a lot of the same stuff in her as a player that you see as a coach. Impressive as a player? Not when I played against her; no, really, she’s just great.” – Chicago Sky rookie Candice Dupree, who played for Staley at Temple.

� “I can’t even say what her impact is, because there are some things that you can measure and some things that you can’t. Her legacy, not only in the women’s game, but in Philadelphia, is something that will keep growing.” Connecticut Sun forward Taj McWilliams Franklin, Staley’s teammate on the Richmond/Philadelphia Rage, of the ABL.

� “She’s meant so much to women’s basketball – not just the WNBA, but women’s basketball as a whole. In the Olympics she was always helping me out, teaching me the little things that only point guards know.” – Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, 2004 Olympic gold medalist, WNBA All-Decade Team.

� “As an opponent, she was definitely one of the toughest players I’ve ever gone against. I have so much respect for her. For her to be able to carry the American flag at the [2004 Athens] Olympics was an amazing moment for our sport and women in general.” – Seattle Storm center Lauren Jackson, a 2000 and 2004 Olympic silver medalist for Australia, WNBA All-Decade Team.

� “She’s still a competitor, believe me. Even though she’s decided to leave the WNBA at the end of this season, her competitive spirit will continue to burn. She’ll just channel that energy into the teams she’s coaching. She has an awesome basketball mind and is such a student of the game.” – Houston Comets forward Tina Thompson, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, WNBA All-Decade Team.

Numbers can talk about Dawn Staley, but only people can tell her story.