WNBA great Lisa Leslie was in New York City last week to help announce the new Capital One Cup.
The Capital One Cup is a new premier award for excellence in on-field performance in Division I college sports. It awards one men’s and one women’s NCAA® Division I athletics program for their cumulative on-field performance across multiple sports during the fall, winter and spring athletics seasons.
Once the seasons are done, $200, 000 will be awarded to the winning program (men's and women's sports) for graduate level scholarships. The winners will be announced during the annual ESPY awards.
After the press conference I had a chance to speak with Leslie who is an Advisory Board member for the Capital One Cup. We spoke on the new award, San Antonio Silver Stars' Beck Hammond, how San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan helped her game and much more.
Jeff: How is it to be on the Advisory Board for the Capital One Cup?
Lisa: Well to be on the Advisory Board is an honor because I'm just passionate about NCAA athletics and for them (Capital One) to choose us is great. I think the Capital One award is an awesome award because we are always trying to have bragging rights on who is the best. This will truly honor those men and women. I love the fact there's two awards and it's split. Lastly it sheds a light on other athletics that don't get the attention they deserve. Like the lacrosse or swimming team.
Tell us about the point system.
I would advice all to go to capitalonecup.com to really understand the point system. It's based on championships that are won. It's not easy to explain when you can just go to the site and see it.
Now how heavy is the Cup itself?
(laughs) Oh my god I believe it's like 30-35 pounds but it's really beautiful.
Moving on to the WNBA playoffs, unfortunately the Seattle Storm beat your Los Angeles Sparks. What can the Sparks improve upon next season?
Well I think they just didn't generate enough points -- 66 points in two games. With Candace Parker out, obviously that's 25 points missing right there. I think they will be fine when she's back. It was a tough season to lose her. Betty Lennox was injured and at one time they (Sparks) had eight players, so for them to make the playoffs, it was an awesome season. They showed a lot of heart and fight. It's not over. They will be back.
I'm sure watching the games or being at the games gets your competativeness going.
(smiles) Oh yeah! I had a great time being at the Garden (Madison Square Garden) watching New York (Liberty) and Indiana (Fever). It was an exciting game. I thought Indiana would pull it out, on paper. But when I saw them in person I thought Indiana was tough but Taj McWilliams stepped up big as well as as Cappie (Pondexter) because when she is hot, you're in trouble.
How was it to play against and see in action Becky Hammond of the San Antonio Silver Stars?
Becky is phenomenal! At her size, 5'6" maybe, if you saw her on the street you wouldn't even think she can shoot the ball let alone do what she does. She is a phenomenal player and one of my favorite players to watch. Unfortunately they (Silver Stars) didn't make it in the playoffs with Phoenix (Mercury) beating them.
You are considered one of the best ever to play the center position in the WNBA. Another player who plays in the paint is Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs. Was he an influence on your game?
(laughs) Who? Tim Duncan? (smiles) Absolutely. Oh my god! Mr. Fundamental! He's an absolute phenomenal player to watch. His ability to hit the bank shot left or right. In fact, I had the opportunity at the NBA All-Star Weekend to ask him to show me how he shoots it (the bank shot), what does he look at and he did! It really helped me in my final season. I've always respected Tim Duncan. His foot work, his ability to score, his demeanor. Obviously he's not very flamboyant player but he is very consistent and you have to respect that every time he steps on the court.
What about the center before Duncan, David Robinson?
I loved David Robinson. Very strong solid player on the block. He could finish and had a nice turn around jumper. He didn't mind banging in the paint but more than anything he was a gentleman. I loved it when he represented our country in the Olympics and I liked the fact when Tim Duncan did come, he didn't have a lot of pride and decided to do whatever it takes to win. David Robinson is one of my all time favorites.
In my opinion, when Duncan leaves the game, only then will fans and the media realize what they lost.
He is a great guy. Phenomenal role model and that's all you can ask from him.