We are a day away from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony on September 7th. The celebration will feature the class of 18, which will include Ray Allen, Grant Hill, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Mo Cheeks, Tina Thompson, and Katie Smith to name a few.
Former Seattle Storm teammates Katie Smith and Tina Thompson have been battling with and against one another for years. Whether that was with one another on Team USA Basketball and in Seattle during the 2012 season or the numerous battles that they had on the court as opponents in WNBA. Their hard work and dedication for the game have earned them respect from their peers not only in the WNBA but the NBA as well.
For Instance, former Dallas Maverick & Houston Rocket Jason Terry had this to say about Thompson:
“Well deserved she is one of the greatest people that I can say that I have ever come in contact with she is an even better coach. She recruited some of my girls when she was at the University of Texas, and now she has her own gig at the University of Virginia. She is going to do well, and she can recruit with the best of them. If you look at her career, she really transcended the women’s game, and a girl like Candace Parker can look at Tina Thompson as a role model. ” Terry told MavsFanatic Podcast.
Hall of Famer Clyde “The Glide Drexler” and former Houston Rocket even shared his thoughts on Tina Thompson, and Katie Smith:
I think it’s great Tina and Katie are both classy individuals they belong in the Hall of Fame with all the great players that played before them. Drexler told me.
I had the opportunity to speak with Lauren Jackson back in April about Thompson:
“She was just a smart competitor, and she always gave everything she had out there on the floor. She could shoot from anywhere, and she was difficult to guard, especially with her length. I was able to learn from the leadership that she always brought to the team along with her relentless and never giving up. I would find myself admiring the way she carried herself on the court, her intelligence for the game of basketball, and she was like a big sister to me. Says Lauren Jackson she would continue by describing the first time she met Tina as a member of the Australian National team. Said Jackson.“I remember when I was 13 or 14 I played against Tina as apart of the Australian National team and she was a part of the USA B team in Taiwan. I met Tina on that trip, and she was very nice to me. What was not my experience with other members of the American team as a young star.”
Sue Bird and Swim Cash also had the opportunity to play with and against Thompson throughout their championship career. Here is what both had to say about the first ballot Hall of Famer.
“Tina has to be in top two players that I have competed against. She was very meticulous about her craft and working on her game. You knew when you went against her that you could not make many mistakes because she would make you pay for it.” She was someone that I learned from as I came up through the ranks because she was very outspoken, but when she did, people listen. The people around her knew that Tina knew what she was talking about. Tina is straight to the point type of leader where others might be screamers, and you must respect that. As a player coming especially with the USA, B team took me under her wing, and we formed a relationship/sisterhood because I like interests, her mindset, and the way she approached the game of basketball.” – Swin Cash
“While playing with Tina, I saw how much confidence she had, and how that confidence never wavered. This sounds so simple, but as an athlete, it’s a quality not many have. So, I really learned what that looked like. What it felt like. And what it meant to carry yourself with confidence and play with it. Simultaneously, she was such a great teammate. Would look you in your eye and say the tough things when needed but would also be the first person to applaud you when you did something great. I think confidence plays a role in her ability to do that as well.” – Sue Bird
Nancy Liberman was recently in Dallas for the Big 3 Semi-Finals as the coach of the now Big 3 Champions Power and shared her thoughts on Tina as well:
“Tina Thompson just changed the game and so consistent, brilliant, high IQ a sister like Katie Smith, and I’m so proud of those two women,” Liberman told me.
Diana Taurasi is considered the Greatest Female Basketball Player of All-time. She has three National Championships at the University of Connecticut as well as, three WNBA Championship with the Phoenix Mercury, and the list goes on. After a game against the Dallas Wings, I had the opportunity to speak with the G.O.A.T about Tina Thompson and Katie Smith:
” I had the opportunity to play with both Tina and Katie in my first Olympics in 2004. Both of them really showed me the ropes of how to be a professional how to approach and prepare for games. Also how to be the best player in the game and they have laid that stepping stone for Team USA Basketball and basketball in America for women in general for 20 years. So, they have been amazing and have been a big part of my basketball life. No one has ever been as competitive as Tina Thompson,” Said Taurasi.
Speaking of Katie Smith, some of the top 20 WNBA players reflected on her career as well such as Sue Bird, Swin Cash, and Lauren Jackson.
“Katie’s accomplishments with Team USA basketball and in the WNBA speak for themselves. She deserves to be inducted into the hall of fame. Just like other the great athletes that came from that period and Katie pave her way into the history books,” said Jackson.
“For me, it’s surreal to be listed amongst those names. I don’t see myself that way, but I know I’m extremely fortunate to have played with, and against some of the all-time greats. Two of them being Tina & Katie” Bird said, she would continue with her thoughts on both Tina and Katie making the Hall of Fame “It’s a no-brainer in my opinion. The list of accolades speaks for speaks for both of them. Not many have been this decorated, have won this much and been the main player on those teams.”
“I think it was a super honor and if you look at both Katie and Tina how their careers in the WNBA but playing professional games before that regarding Katie. I think to be a first ballot hall farmer says a lot, not only about your career but the respect from the public for what you have done throughout your career. So, it is going to be amazing to sit there and watch her & Tina be inducted. Also, I think they have represented women basketball at the highest level and it very good for women’s basketball.” – Swin Cash
“Katie Smith was a great player and person I love her, and she is a Hall of Famer. I will be there to watch her on her day she is amazing.” – Nancy Liberman
“Few players can claim the success Katie and Tina had in their respective careers. Tina and Katie came into the league with the highest of expectations and always rose to the occasion. Tina was a dominant force on the court with the accolades to match: four-time WNBA champion, nine-time All-Star and second in WNBA history for total points. As for Katie, she reached the highest levels of the sport as a two-time WNBA champion and seven-time All-Star. Says WNBA President Lisa Borders
In addition to their outstanding careers on the court, Tina and Katie continue to make tremendous contributions to the game and the next generation of players through coaching. So, I want to congratulate Tina & Katie on an accomplishment only a few iconic people are able to experience. They are both the first-ballot Hall of farmers in my book.”
Finally, Following the Wing’s 104-87 win over the New York Liberty, which saw Liz Cambage set a WNBA record with
Katie Smith offered her own thoughts on her Hall of Fame induction after a loss to the Dallas Wings. That saw Liz Cambage set a WNBA record with 53 points.
“It is exciting you love what you do and work hard at it. To be recognized in that manner puts the icing on the cake and something that I am very proud of. There were a lot of people who had a hand in it and it nice to share it with the people I played against.”