Both Tina Thompson and Katie Smith, the WNBA’s number one and two all-time scorers respectively, announced their retirements during the 2013 season.
Thompson, the league’s last original player, was the W’s overall pick in its first-ever draft in 1997 and the only player to play in each of the league’s 17 seasons. She scored over 7,000 points and 3,000 rebounds and
finished her three-team illustrious career against Minnesota.
She gave her Seattle Storm a brief one-point lead late in Game 2 of the first-round playoff this season but eventually lost to the later-to-be-crowned champion Lynx. “I’m very blessed to be able to play with such very talented players,” said Thompson on her all-but-certain Hall of Fame-caliber career, which includes four league championships, two Olympic gold medals, and nine-time All-Star.
This reporter covered Smith’s 6½ of her 15 WNBA seasons played here in Minnesota. Before being a key part in one of the most horrific trades in Minnesota pro-sports history in 2005, Smith was the Lynx’s first franchise player. Then the also-almost-certain Hall of Famer helped win two WNBA titles in Detroit, played for three more teams, and concluded her decade and a half career in New York this season.
She told the MSR, “Sometimes I’ve been really good at [changing roles] and sometimes I had to find my way. Whether it’s going to Detroit and being a point guard, I’ve always been proud of myself doing the little stuff, the little things that probably don’t get on the stat sheet. Being here [in New York] and at Seattle probably was the hardest. I’m a thinker, and I probably think too much.”
Seattle Coach Brian Agler coached both players — Smith twice when the two were in Minnesota. “They are very skilled shooters,” he told the MSR on Smith and Thompson. “They’re both extremely competitive. It doesn’t matter if it’s at practice, a game or drills…they’re as good as anybody I’ve ever been around. That’s why they are so special.”
WNBA President Laurel Richie told the MSR, “I feel real lucky to have had time in my tenure as head of the league with both of them still in it and to be able to get to know them. Tina’s great legacy… The stats always are going to be there, but the
way in which she shared knowledge [and] experience [with] the next generation of players I think is going to be how her presence will continue on.”
On Smith, “She may not have had as much public recognition as some other players in the league, but…if you consider her ABL career, there is no women’s professional basketball player in the States that has scored more points than she has. When you need the hard tactical work done, Katie got it done,” noted Richie.
“I’m really grateful,” concluded Thompson. “I just love to play and compete, and just trying to find a way to win,” concluded Smith.