I'm so excited to be writing you all again to give you the inside scoop of what has been happening in the lives of the Phoenix Mercury! I know I keep you all waiting to hear what's been going on, but I just want to have enough material for you all to thoroughly enjoy. They say it is all about quality and not quantity, but let's be honest, why choose one over the other when you can have both? Anyways, I hope you all have been enjoying this past month as X-Factor fans, as I have been being a player on the No. 1 team in the WNBA. Ahhhh, I love saying that!! I have to be honest with you all; winning has to be the best feeling ever. There was a time in 2007, when I was on the historical Houston Comets roster and started the season 0-10. There is nothing more mentally deteriorating than losing"and adding links to a losing "chain." Every game we would come out hoping to end the mudslide that was our season, praying for some kind of silver lining, and eventually it did.
I know you all have heard the saying, "You can't appreciate the sunshine if it never rains." Well in my career, I now fully understand those words of advice. Never in my life would I have thought about being a part of a team that is adding links to a "winning" chain. It's always good to get three or four in a row because it sets a tone for a team. It helps with confidence, poise, determination, expectation, and realization. In a league that is so talented across the board, you'd never really expect to string together wins the way we have. I can't lie; I am quite amazed that we've pulled two wins vs. Minnesota and three vs the Sparks. These wins most certainly did not come easily. I know two games ago in LA we had the X-factor and all those watching on ESPN about to faint in the 4th quarter. I believe Shay, Tiffany, and I lost feeling in our legs during the final moments that seemed to go slow motion when none other than Diana Taurasi a.k.a White Mamba (name officially dubbed by Kobe Bryant) hit that three. I mean, come on"EXTRAORDINARY!! Life is better at the buzzer! If any of you saw the replays, you would have seen us all cheering and lifting and shaking our pointer fingers. We had a World Cup addiction at the time, and that's what Messi from Argentina would do after he scored a goal. For all you Diana super fans, that is her favorite player and her dog is also named after him. So, in that moment it was only right for us to pay homage to Diana's fave during her moment of UNREALness.
So here we are sitting at 15 in a row. It's dangerous being on top, though. Did you all ever play "King of the Mountain" when you were younger? It was a game where there would be a raised platform, or in my world of Wisconsin, a snow hill. Every kid would attempt to get and stay at the top while all the other kids would do anything and everything to knock you off your throne. I used to play it, and I vividly remember some serious bruises, snow burn, pinching, tackling, and lots of go home crying because things go too rough. Well, if you have been watching the post All-Star"..WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE! Or shall I say welcome to the adult version of our childhood game. Everyone is aiming for us, and wanting us to fall. The great thing about our team, X-Factor, is that our coaching staff always has us prepared. I mean Coach Brondello is right there on the front line with us being quite the impressive general. She always knows exactly what to say to keep us grounded and focused, even when things seem to be getting out of hand. She is the type of coach that loves to use the word "poise." The thing is, that word is EXACTLY what we have needed to get through most these teams" best counter attacks. Some of these runs our opponents have put together against us have had us on our heels. We know we could lose just like any team, but we aren't afraid of it. We are more focused on a game at a time and enjoying the moments when we have executed the game plan. That to me is the true definition of a championship team. It means we are on the right path, just not quite at our final destination.
Brittney Gets Frisked
Traveling on game days can be quite stressful from time to time for all of us. Commercial traveling as you all know involves checking in, trying to get the best seats available, and the dreadful security line. We all attempt to get into that heaven of a TSA Pre-Approved line just to avoid long line, keep all of our clothes on, and leave our electronics in our bags. Smooth sailing is exactly what TSA Pre-Approved makes the traveling experience. Unfortunately, we have had access denied more times than we can count. Matter of fact, just the other day on our trip from Seattle to LA, a group of us walked up to Camp David"err" I mean the security line" and we were all amazingly welcomed into the pre-approved fast track to heaven. As we are all moving forward a woman steps in front of Shay Murphy and I with an NBA Dikembe Mutombo type rejection. Shay and I do our best to explain how we were with that big group and the man just beside her said we all could go through. She wasn't listening to us and again forcibly pushed us into the "other" line. Shay Murphy decided she wanted to be a rebel that morning and I followed her lead and walked into that "other" line and hustled right on over to our teammates. We were standing there for about three minutes thinking we were in the clear before this huge security officer came and escorted us right back to where the woman wanted us! The injustice'the horror"oh I hate the security phase of traveling.
After 20 minutes of questioning, we finally regained our freedom. However, Brittney couldn't say the same. She was held for more than an extra 15 minutes being frisked in a way I have never seen before. Well, maybe one time in Vegas at the world famous Rehab Pool. They check people in ways that I'm sure are illegal. As I say, nothing short of a cavity search. What was funny about this scene was merely that the woman doing the search was 5'0". You all know that BG stands at 6'8, and the woman searching her couldn't properly do her job. She kept asking BG to bend down, move here or there, and BG was like "you should get a chair." I know you all can get just as annoyed with the process as us, and this was one of those moments. We all stood there waiting for BG and making remarks that the search was way too extensive and taking way too long. I know she was really happy to get it all done with because just watching was enough to make you feel uncomfortable.
Breast Cancer Awareness
I am absolutely excited about my mom coming to visit me for our Breast Cancer Awareness game. My mom loves so much that WNBA shows so much support for the cause and has never been able to attend a game that is aimed at raising awareness and creating an impact on all of those people who have been affected by this disease. She herself has lost a best friend to breast cancer almost six years ago that left her with a God son. They were friends for over nine years, and they were the girl version of Dumb and Dumber. Always losing themselves in their own goofiness and sharing the ups and downs of their lives as single mothers. After being diagnosed, my mother daily watched her friend bravely fight to overcome cancer for herself and for her three children. At one point everyone including the doctors believed that she would have. But her story, like so many others, didn't have a happy ending. As sad as this particular story is, there are many people who have overcome it and are happily in remission. For this very reason, the WNBA is proud to use its platform to spread the word and help raise money to find a cure. There is hope worth holding onto. Hope that one day we all will be celebrating life that will never have to succumb to breast cancer again. I enjoy playing this game, and I really love that everyone in attendance is forced to recognize what it is all about. As a woman, I believe it is very important to be educated on breast cancer and to be proud that we can help other women dealing with the disease. For me, the cherry on the top is being able to wear pink. I am a girly-girl and wearing pink from head to toe is awesome. I actually wish there was a WNBA team who had pink as a primary color. When I play in France there is a team that does wear pink uniforms for every game and I ooze jealously, haha! A girl can dream, right?
For all of you who are dealing with breast cancer or know somebody who is battling, be encouraged! I love Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote that says, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." Sometimes in dark chapters of our lives, we succumb to the negativity that surrounds the process of dealing with our circumstances. Just like many things in life, it is easy to be positive, confident, and overcoming in the beginning. However, as humans we all fall into our feelings and sometimes allow them to run away with us. But let me assure you, we are more than conquerors; we were not built to break. If any of you want some inspiration from someone who is currently battling cancer, I highly suggest you watch Stuart Scott's 2014 ESPY Awards speech on YouTube. Talk about a man who is fighting with enthusiasm, and when he is weak, he has friends and family that can be enthusiastic and strong for him!
I look forward to seeing the X-Factor strongly represent at this game. Bring a friend! Let's pack the house in pink and continue to show the WNBA why we have the No. 1 fans. See you out there"hopefully delivering a win against the Sparks!
It's yours truly; here again to bring you the inside scoop of your favorite WNBA basketball team! I am excited to share with you all the funny little tidbits that happened while we were away. Needless to say, there was NEVER a dull moment. I mean, how could there be a dull moment during an eleven day road trip? It was a long one, too. I couldn't put it any better than my teammate Erin Phillips when she said, "Another bus to another airport to another plane to another bus to another hotel to another bed in another city." However, there was plenty of excitement between winning some great games and losing some others that were just disappointing. Now that it is over, I never thought I would have been so happy to return to the dry sauna that is Arizona! The feeling of a particular heat that tightens the skin on my face the moment I step into the sun".ahhhhh! "Welcome (back) to the Valley of the Sun."
Lost in Translation
As all of you know, we have what I like to call a little "United Nations" team. Obviously, everyone speaks English (or some version of English Ha! Ha!). I compare what happens with Anete Jekabsone-Zogota and Ewelina Kobryn here in the United States is like me in France. There are times when I can speak and understand everything in French, and other times I have not a clue as to what was said, and say yes or nod in agreement anyways. Those language barriers can be so simple, yet so complex at the same time.
So, this trip had plenty of these moments for Anete. They were happening so frequently that I had to start taking notes for this blog specifically. I needed you all to have a chance to laugh the way we all were during the trip! These moments were just too classic not to share with all of you!
Day 1 - We all arrived to the airport, checked in, passed through security, and headed to eat some breakfast at a restaurant near the gate. Being the tight-niched team we are, all decided on the same place, and we all got into the same line to order. As we all are receiving our individual orders, I can't help but to see the frustration all over Anete's face. I ask her what is wrong and she tells me, "I don't understand what is taking them so long to give me my english muffin." I didn't either"given the fact I ordered after her, and received my food before her. I just told her I don't know. Not even five minutes later, I see her even more flustered. I again proceed to ask her what's wrong now. She opens her bag and said, "Look at this." I looked and asked, "And the problem is?" Anete said, "I ordered an english muffin and they gave me this." I told her, "Hunny, that IS an english muffin." She was like, "What?!?! I thought an english muffin was like blueberry or banana"a normal muffin."
She basically just assumed a muffin in America would be called an "English" muffin. Oh, the tears in my eyes from laughing so hard!
Day 3 - Everyone was sitting down in the airport enjoying their snacks purchased at the overpriced convenient store, when Anete was overly excited about her choice! She told everyone, with her eyes so big from the joy she was experiencing and said, "I just love these Mike and Likes." Diana, being the charming DT everyone knows and loves, started to mock her over and over. "Ooooo guys I looooove these Mike and Likes. Anyone want some Mike and Likes? You never had some Mike and Likes?" As you could imagine, we all laughed once again.
Day 8 - We were all celebrating Diana's Birthday at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse in the Mohegan Sun. Everyone was watching DeWanna Bonner play the addicting game called "Don't Touch the White Tile." Apparently it is quite addicting and Anete had to be one of the many who downloaded the game this evening. There was a small competition going on to see who could get the most points, and quite frankly my blood pressure was rising just watching. Anete followed and tried her go at it, and Erin and Diana began joking with her. She failed quickly and put her hands in the air saying "Now you guys nervous me." The laughter poured over the table. We all said, "You mean we are making you nervous?"
The best part is she is just too cute when she does these things.
Our game against the Washington Mystics was a special one for me. My father took time out of his very busy schedule to drive from Philadelphia to see me play. If you don't know already, my dad is the infamous Chubby Checker, but to me he is just dad! We are pretty much two of the same people living the same kind of life. Lots of traveling, always busy, and not enough family time! We have actually had mini arguments about not making enough time for each other"him visiting me or vice-versa. I hadn't seen him in almost a year until that point. Many people say there isn't enough time in a day; I like to say there aren't enough days in the year. Anyways, he came to see me and it was pretty awesome. There is nothing like looking in the crowd seeing your father's eyes glazed over with pride and joy! He never has to say it, the way he looks at me says more than any words could ever express. That's the thing about Dads everywhere. They show more than they express! They just show love in a completely amazing, different way.
After the games, my dad always comes in the back near our locker room. He loves being able to meet my coaches and teammates. He is always so sweet, positive, and charming with all of them. He tells each and everyone what he loves about their game and how he is so excited about the win. This particular game he was just thrilled with the win and proceeds to tell coach, "It's about time Mistie's team came in this building and won. Every time I come and see a game here in D.C. she always takes the "L."" Geez, thanks, dad - how nice of you! He says, "Well, honey it's true." While he says it, he gives me that ever so innocent and bashful smirk of his.
He really has an eye for the game! Sometimes, some of the things that come out of his mouth are rather surprising! Other times he's being a total DAD and telling me what to do. Always telling me, "Shoot the ball." I have to explain that sometimes the rhythm of the game calls for me to give up my shot for the better shot. In his mind, if I shoot it and make it there is no problem, right? We can debate over and over why I was open five times and shot it once. Sometimes he's right which means sometimes he's wrong'so majority of the time we agree to disagree. Then he enjoys the time he watches me overseas, because as he says I get to "shoot all the balls" and after the games he tells me, "Get out of here girl with your bad self." I just love him to pieces and a lot of the time I am just amazed at just how alike we are. Three characteristics I share with my father: 1. Perfectionist 2. Heart of Gold and 3. ambitious. I can say I am very happy to inherit those qualities from him because without them, I wouldn't be where I am sharing these precious stories with the greatest fans in the WNBA.
Many people ask me how I can be so positive and happy all the time. They ask me what my motivation is and what keeps me going. The thing is I am like every human being. I go through trials, disappointments, moodiness, frustration, an occasional tantrum (I hate when I don't get my way"hey! at least I am honest about it), and all the ups and downs in the journey of life.
The one thing that always grabs my attention when things start to spin out of control are these two questions. 1. Can I control anything that is happening? Meaning, am I doing everything I can to make sure I will have the outcome I desire? If the answer is no, then it's time to get focused and start doing! I cannot sit around and complain if I am not putting in the work to get the desired outcome. If the answer is yes, then I move to No. 2 which is attitude is EVERYTHING! Many of us (including myself) have a problem when we have done everything we could and the efforts all seem to be in vain. Sometimes things just don't happen in the timeframe we believe that they should happen.
As a direct result, we fall into that negative energy and start to release the uglier sides of ourselves. You know what I am talking about " the complaining, the gossiping, the attitude that you are better and deserve it more than another, the I am quitting mentality, and the most detrimental one".the second-guessing yourself! As hard as it is sometimes, it is better to fake it until you make it. When you practice having a good attitude (even though you would like to kick, scream, and moan) the results you want will come much faster. And let's face it, a positive and smiling person is much more enjoyable to be around than a "negative Nancy."
So, I'll leave you with two great quotes for you to meditate on!
"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." - Zig Ziglar
"Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results." - Willie Nelson
Well, X-Factor, it's bedtime! Big games coming up in Indiana and Tulsa need to be ready to help the team stay number one!
My name is Mistie Bass and I just recently "brought my talents" (in my LeBron James voice) to the Phoenix Mercury. Okay, okay"it wasn't quite a blockbuster move like LeBron deciding to go to Miami, but the objective is exactly the same: heading to a team with the mentality of winning championships " nothing less, nothing more.
Most of you may know me from previous seasons on the opposing team causing all sorts of ruckus on the court. I know some of you have loved to hate me! I have done my fair share of instigating a technical foul or two. (Diana may just stay under the limit this year; she told me, "With you on the team that gets rid of at least three.")
I can't help but laugh because I remember the time I was on the Sky playing against Phoenix for our annual "pink" game. I was in all pink, right down to the hair ties that held up my Princess Leia buns. I mean, all I needed was some pink lipstick and some matching pompoms to be the Breast Cancer Awareness mascot. Here's the setting: Diana already has one technical foul for the game. I get on the court and she is already coming at me with her infamous trash talk right along with an inadvertent elbow to the gut.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am a lover and not a fighter but on this occasion I wasn't about to get punked! So I did what any lady would do, and get even when she least expected it. Ball gets tapped out of bounds. Sky ball. I go to receive the ball, and who is there to defend the inbounds play? Yep! Your beloved Diana Taurasi. I don't exactly know when I came up with the idea to pump fake the ball directly at her face, but I did and she dang near hit the floor. I mean, I would have done the same had it been me, but I wasn't prepared for the wrath that came after the incident!
I had some serious coconuts pulling that on one of the league's best and most respected players. I remember her running up to me, pushing, and people trying to pull us apart like it was some NBA drama to be shown on the next episode of SportsCenter. Next thing I knew, some technical fouls were being issued, Diana gets booted from the game (second technical in one game = ejection), and we win the game.
I'd like to think my little episode helped get us that win! (BIG SMILE) The moral of the story is I am here on this team ready to make other teams' lives a problem.
New Kid on the block
I'm not going to lie and tell you that I was super confident flying into Phoenix knowing I'd be the newbie in town. I still get that nervous, butterfly-in-your-stomach-thing when I come to a new team. Meeting new people, learning new character traits, wondering how your personality will mesh with others, and how comfortable you'll feel right away can be difficult. I told my mom before I left that I was a bit anxious about being the new kid at school. I swear, it doesn't matter how old you get, new places always take you out of your comfort zone a little bit.
I met the team at the airport after they arrived back from the inaugural WNBA Preseason Tournament. The first person I met? None other than your own Brittney Griner. This was my first encounter with her, and to be honest, I think she thought I was a fan. I looked at her, gave the "head nod" and she did the same. Then she had that "hold up" look a couple of seconds later like, "Wait, I think that's my teammate." I guess this is a normal reaction for her given the craziness that happens in the airports with all of the people that recognize her. I think it is amazing the amount of people that gravitate towards her, and are inspired by who she is and what she does on the court. It's great for women's basketball and the future of its development.
Everyone else was really welcoming and my anxiety just lifted. It was so good to see Shay Murphy again. I played with her in Chicago and I just love her fun and free-spirited personality. She always has this light and airy energy that makes it so easy to be around her. Diana and Penny were also very happy to see me and made sure I was taken care of and asked if I needed anything.
I knew from that point forward, fitting in wasn't going to be a problem at all.
We're Talking About Practice
Coach Brondello was ready and eager to finally have everyone on the court at the same time. I'm sure we all were just as excited because the season was literally only five days away. Over the course of the summer, you will quickly take note of my honesty. I mean that to say, those five days were beastly! It was the kind of time that if you didn't know how to swim, you were thrown into the pool and better learn quickly. The learning curve was high, and the energy and focus expectancy level was set at expert. Don't take this as a complaint; I am just taking you all through what it is like as a professional athlete with a coach who expects excellence. In this business, you sink or you float " simple as that.
After the first couple days, my body adjusted to the temperature, dryness, muscle soreness, and long days. Sometimes as athletes who play overseas, we forget the major differences between the seasons. For example, here in the WNBA, it is easy to be in the gym from 9-3. Most of us will arrive early to get treatment and weights in before practice. Thirty minutes before practice we have "pre-practice," followed by formal practice. After that is finished, extra shots, stretching, cold tub, more treatment, and showers are completed before we leave the gym. Then you look at the clock and it's already 3 p.m.!
Overseas is MUCH different. We rarely have all the equipment necessary to do all the pre and post-practice things I've illustrated above. If practice is at 4 p.m., we show up 30 minutes before because nine times out of 10, there is another team on the court. Some coaches don't believe in going to the weight room, so you can cut that out of the time, too. Once again, if practice is at 4 p.m., you will be home by 6:30 or 7 p.m. " big difference.
As all of you dedicated, hard-core, loyal X-Factor fans know, we have started this season out pretty decent. We had an amazing opening night, and played some pretty awesome basketball. How about that 60 percent field goal percentage going into halftime! This team has some sharp-shooters on it.
I am amazed at the level of talent on this team. In practice, it sometimes feels like an All-Star atmosphere. DeWanna Bonner's athletic up and unders, Candice Dupree's smooth pump fake one-dribble jumper, Penny Taylor's hard drive to the right euro step lay-up, and BG's strong moves to the basket over our practice players with ease; it's a basketball heaven! I can only imagine the possibilities of this team when the chemistry matches the talent. This league will have a Godzilla on their hands.
Just a couple nights ago, we had our first loss. The quote that comes to mind comes from my very first WNBA coach, Van Chancellor. He said after every loss, "They can come in here and kick our tails, but they can't make me like it." I take losses hard. I am the type of player that analyzes everything. I first look at myself and my productivity, so you can imagine I was disappointed with myself. Most certainly because of those two turnovers that created four points in transition for San Antonio. I look at it like this: we lost by four! The good thing is that Diana looks at it differently than I do which brings a balance to my hypercritical brain. She said, "Just gotta let it go. Can't be mad over a game we didn't deserve to win. They played harder, they played better." Oooh the beauty of simplifying everything! Straight to the point, no overanalyzing needed.
As we gear up for this week of preparation, I am reminded to be positive and look to control the things I can. This brings me to my inspiration of the week. All of us want to be successful; individually, romantically, professionally, personally, mentally and spiritually. Sometimes we get so focused on all the things we must do to be successful, that we end up stumbling along the way. When we stumble, a lot of times we allow ourselves to throw pity parties. You know, the pity parties that include slow depressing music, complaining to your friends or family how it's not your fault, and wasting time contemplating all the negative thoughts that don't do anything but make you feel worse. STOP IT!
Collin Powell says it best, "Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence." As long as we learn from the places we have stumbled and continue to pursue our goal with diligence, success will surely be within our grasp.