Russian Mercury with Cappie Pondexter.

In America, Cappie Pondexter has accomplished everything you can imagine: An All-American in high school, Big East Player of the Year at Rutgers University, and a 3-time WNBA All-Star with 2 Championships and a Finals MVP Award with the Phoenix Mercury. But this WNBA superstar-along with many others-spends her offseason doing what she loves to do: playing basketball professionally. Find out why she does it, and what she learns in her season in Russia with UMMC Ekaterinburg. If you’d like to ask Cappie a question, then e-mail it to [email protected] or ask us on Twitter: @Euro_Adventures.

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12/14/09 - Women in the NBA?

Freaknick: Recently, David Stern told Sports Illustrated that he thinks a woman could play in the NBA within 5-10 years. Phil Jackson disagrees. Who would you side with and why? If not 5-10 years, do you think we’ll ever reach that point?

Cappie Pondexter: I honestly feel that a professional woman could compete in the NBA, but as a professional player myself, why would we? This is my thought process: It’s already hard for us to compete agaisnt the NBA on so many other levels. Also, it takes away from the hard work past players put into the WNBA to get it where it is now. I think it’s better if women players continue to make the WNBA the best professional league for women. We honestly got the skills to compete with men and at the end of the day “a hooper is a hooper” regardless if you’re male or female.

Cappie, doin' work in Ekaterinburg.FN: Do you think you could play with the guys? Are there any particular WNBA players that could?

CP: Of course I can play with the guys. I grew up playing with a lot of them. Players like Will Bynum, Luther Head, and Dee Brown. I’m a ball player so I don’t mind competing against men or women. Most women who play at the highest level at some point of their lives have played with guys.

FN: Now that you’re in Europe, could you see a female player playing in one of the male professional European leagues?

CP: I mean, of course but why would a woman want to?I mean if they’re paying a nice amount I could understand or if you’re about breaking barriers then it would be a great groundbreaking experience. I would definitely do it if it’s a solid situation but it’s also hard to realistically think about “what if”…

FN: How does a typical day in the Euroleague differ from a typical day in the WNBA? Are the hotels as nice? Practices harder/easier/longer/shorter?

CP: Well besides being in another country as opposed to just another city from your original home, nothing is different. I’m all the way in Russia where it’s like negative 30 degrees and growing up in Chicago where the weather is similar, it’s not a huge change for me. UMMC treats us really nice. We charter everywhere and sleep in good hotels. Our coach believes in developing great habits in practice so we definitely go twice a day, not really wasting any time. In the WNBA we don’t practice twice, but we spend a solid hour in the gym and definitely go hard! Both teams I play for are awsome in their own little way!

FN: Have your coaches over there helped you improve your game at all?

CP: My coach in Russia gives me a lot of room to improve on my one-on-one skills. He (Gundars Vetra) played in the NBA and Europe so he knows what’s needed to be the best player you can be. I enjoy playing for him and whatever he needs from me, I make it happen.

FN: Are you learning any Russian?

CP: I haven’t learned any Russian but I’ve done a lot of cool things in my city thanks to my translator. We hang out often so it’s pretty cool getting to know Ekaterinberg. Maybe after Christmas I’ll try and learn the language.

I just wanna say thanks to my fans for reading my blog and giving feeback. Any questions you guys wanna ask, don’t hesitate. I enjoy Q&A (Just send your questions to [email protected]). Also wishing everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

P.S. - Should I rock long or short hair for the WNBA season? Wanna hear feedback.


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11/27/09 - Different styles, foreign referees, and the state of the WNBA

Freaknick: After a long WNBA season and a championship run in the playoffs—congratulations by the way—how do you have enough left in the tank for a full set of Euroleague games?

Cappie Pondexter: It’s definitely tough going from season to season, but at the end of the day I love what I do and appreciate that I can do this and still make a living. That and my faith give me the strength to keep going.

FN: What are your goals going over there? Do you use it as an opportunity to hone in on some areas of your game that need work?

CP: My goals every year are to add something new to my game and get better in every aspect. And obviously, I always want to give my club a chance to win titles. Every year I play I want them to be the best they can be, so I compete every day in practice to make that happen. It also helps to prepares you for Olympic play. It gives you a chance to learn the European game and become familiar with the players. By the way, I get to know the referees too, LOL, which is the biggest plus in my eyes.

FN: With the news that the Monarchs will be leaving Sacramento, can you just talk a bit about the state of the WNBA?

CP: I’m not sure how this WNBA thing will turn out, but I have faith that [WNBA President] Donna Orender will make the best decisions for this league. It’s sad to see the Monarchs be moved but at the same time I’ll stay optimistic about them becoming a better organization for women’s basketball. The fans—without question—will be missed.

FN: What’s the biggest difference you’ve seen between the Euroleague and the WNBA?

CP: The biggest difference is the level of play and the way the game is played. WNBA is more powerful in terms of each player’s strength; in Europe, you have 19-year-olds playing with you. Skill wise, however, Europe is ahead of the WNBA without question.

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2 Replies

  1. well very insightful read. i love cappie. bn loving her since she was at Rutgers. The only thing that bothered me was that she didnt seem to optimistic about the future of the W. coming from a player that was a lil bit disheartning to here her say that but i will continue to support the WNBA. my fav team the shock moved but hopefully its all in the best interests and the future of the league. love the article looking forward to reaading more!

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