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Tina Thompson: The WNBA's Warrior Is Forced into the Spotlight

Tina Thompson, WNBA's all-time leading scorer, in Sunday's record breaking game. <a href="http://www.112575.com"><em>Photo by Craig Bennett/112575 Media</em></a>
Tina Thompson, WNBA's all-time leading scorer, in Sunday's record breaking game. Photo by Craig Bennett/112575 Media

She's never been one for individual achievements, even though she has many.

In fact, outside of basketball circles Tina Thompson is far from being a household name.  But WNBA fans know her and they call her a Warrior. The last of the original WNBA entry class of 1997, Tina Thompson now stands alone on top as the WNBA All-Time Leading Scorer as she has passed her former rival and teammate, Lisa Leslie.

Over the span of her career, Thompson has compiled a resume that takes a backseat to no one. She was the first draft pick in the history of the WNBA, and as mentioned before, is the last of the original WNBA players. Twice Thompson has worn Olympic gold (2004, 2008). An eight-time All-WNBA selection, in 2006 Thompson was also named a member of the All-Decade team. But the consummate team player, the most important achievement for Thompson is the four WNBA championships she earned as a part of the Houston Comets.

A career 15 points per game scorer, Thompson has been so versatile, playing both forward spots early in her career and even playing some center in recent times. Thompson has never been afraid to do the dirty work on the court and currently sits third all-time in total rebounds in WNBA history (trailing only Leslie and Taj McWilliams-Franklin) and has climbed to eleventh in career blocks.

So perhaps it's not that Thompson has avoided the spotlight -- it's just that it doesn't seem to mean much to her. 

Setting aside your ego especially with Thompson's talent would be difficult for so many, but she has made it look easy; never letting personal accomplishments get in the way of team success. Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker...Thompson has been teammates with some of the best that have played in the WNBA and she has always allowed them the spotlight while simply going out and taking care of business on the court.  She has always played with the quiet confidence and determination of someone comfortable with themself and with their ability.  Keep in mind also this is a woman that has done all this since 2005, while raising her son Dyllan - no small achievement.

As we celebrate the incredible career and accomplishments of Tina Thompson the individual, it's Tina Thompson the teammate that is pushing, pulling and guiding the Los Angeles Sparks in a final push toward a playoff spot.  At this point in her career, I'm not so sure she expected to be playing almost 33 minutes per game or averaging 15 points per game, but she is doing what she has to do to once again.  I interviewed teammate DeLisha Milton-Jones on the Dishin & Swishin show and here is DeLisha talking about her teammate.

Dishin & Swishin: DeLisha Milton-Jones on Tina Thompson

If one had to sum up Tina Thompson the player, I would say the word "Warrior" is perfect.  She does it all - and she does it well. 

But to sum up Tina Thompson the person and and what matters most to her "Warrior" might need to be replaced with "Mother". One needs to look no further than a recent interview with USA Today for her thoughts on her greatest achievement:

USA TODAY: Finally, given everything you've accomplished in your life, both on and off the basketball court, what are you most proud of?

Tina Thompson: Dyllan. He's the best thing that I've ever done.

Related Links:

Video of record-breaking basket - via WNBA.com
Tina Thompson Becomes the All-Time Scoring Leader - Swish Appeal