September 9, 2021
She Got Next, Episode 33: WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes
A legend and a future legend reunite to talk hoops
Our fearless podcaster, Pepper Persley, has returned with her latest episode: a conversation with Sheryl Swoopes, the first signing by the WNBA, four-time WNBA champ and six-time all star.
“I started playing basketball when I was — how old are you, 10? I was 7,” Swoopes recalled of when she first fell in love with the game. “And I grew up playing with my two older brothers… there was something about basketball, even at such a young age, that just really drew me to it, and I knew that basketball would be my ticket to someday be able to not only change my life, but change my mom’s life.”
Pepper noticed the differences, generationally, in what people like Swoopes, by trailblazing, have left as a legacy. She plays mostly in girls’ leagues, something that Swoopes said wasn’t available to her.
“I think what’s interesting about you just said, that just shows to me how much the game has grown,” Swoopes said. “When I was growing up, honestly, I could never find enough girls — maybe a handful — but I could never find 10 girls who were interested enough in basketball, where we could play five-on-five. So I had to go play with the boys.”
Swoopes revealed that she grew up playing volleyball and running track — “I hated it”, she recalled with a laugh of the latter sport — but volleyball was her second love and a sport she got college offers in. Ultimately, basketball was the sport for her.
And the rest is history. Sheryl Swoopes couldn’t watch women’s basketball growing up. Michael Jordan was the one she grew up trying to emulate.
“I didn’t get to watch any women,” Swoopes remembered. “I know about women back then, the Nancy Liebermans, and Annie Meyers, and Anne Donovan, God rest her soul. Lynette Woodard, Cheryl Miller. I know those names, but I never got a chance to watch them play.”
Listen to these two talk all things basketball and, really, life.