On February 16, 2015 the defending Eastern Conference Champion Chicago Sky traded two-time All-Star Epiphanny Prince to the New York Liberty in exchange for six-time All-Star Cappie Pondexter.
Both players are returning to play for their hometown teams, but the transaction had nothing to do with any marketing ploy. New York simply wants to get younger while Chicago wants to win it all now.
Some might wonder how trading a 27-year old Prince for a 32-year old Pondexter gives Chicago a better chance to win. For Sky Head Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman the answer is simple, Cappie is a winner.
"A lot of people start with the end in mind in terms of bringing a Cappie Pondexter home but you all know it's the skill set," Chatman said. "I am not going to sit here and talk about her accolades; you know them -- WNBA All-Star, gold medal winner, WNBA Champion, WNBA all-time great.
"But what's most important is the element of her that we need to infiltrate in our team to carry us to that next level."
"I think it's a perfect fit."
The element that Pokey Chatman is referring to is Pondexter's winning ways. In 1999 Pondexter led John Marshall High School to a 31-1 record and a state championship. In 2005 and 2006 she led Rutgers to consecutive Big East Championships. Pondexter also won the 2007 and 2009 WNBA championship as a member of the Phoenix Mercury.
One glaring weakness in Chicago's last two playoff appearances was the play of Epiphanny Prince. Prince, a big-time scorer who famously scored 113 points in a single high school game, struggled with her shot in the post season.
During Chicago's run to the 2014 WNBA Finals Prince averaged 9.2 points per game while shooting 29% from the field and 27% from the three-point line.
Pondexter, the tenth best scorer in WNBA history, has a career playoff average of 21.1 points per game and a 43 percent field goal percentage average. The ten-year veteran could be the perfect complement to Sky bigs Sylvia Fowles and Elena Delle Donne.
Like another Chicagoan playing for his hometown team Cappie Pondexter now has the pride and the pressure of representing her city and delivering a championship.
Sherron Shabazz: How's it feel to be home?
Cappie Pondexter: It feels good! It's a lot of excitement because it's something new. To be back in familiar surroundings is definitely a good feeling.
SS: There is a video of you doing an interview in Australia and someone asked if you wanted to end your career in Chicago and you said no. What changed?
CP: I never thought about it, honestly. What changed is Pokey called me. We talked and she understood where I was coming from, I understood where she was coming from and we just brought it together. At the end of the day, now that it's done, I think it was the best thing.
SS: Playing against the Sky the last couple of years, what stood out to you the most about this squad?
CP: [Laughs] Pokey, number one. Her killer instinct, tenacity, and "never give up" attitude. It pretty much carried through with the team. Look at the playoff race that they had with Atlanta. If you look at the series nobody would have ever believed that they'd come out and win that game. That just shows you that Pokey is the ultimate leader of this team and this organization. That's just how her mentality is and she was able to carry that through the team and I think that's what stood out the most.
SS: How will your game mesh with Syl and Elena's?
CP: Man, I've been looking to play with a dominant big and another scorer on the wing since I left Phoenix. I think it'll be great. We all draw a lot of attention in different ways and once we get a feel for each other I think we'll be fine.
SS: Do you feel having played some point guard in New York will help you in Chicago?
CP: Yeah. I always was pretty much back and forth between positions, but obviously my main role was the point guard in New York when Bill was there. I learned some things from that and I'm looking to give whatever this team needs.
SS: Has Pokey told you what she wants from you?
CP: [Laughs] She just told me she was going to be demanding. That's always a good thing because she's going to challenge me to be the best player that I can be.
SS: Last season you had the groin injury and a career-low in points and three-point shooting percentage. What do you say to those that say, "Cappie has slowed down"?
CP: [Laughs] I've slowed down? I don't say anything to them really because everybody has an opinion about me, obviously. The cool thing is I'm healthy now. I just came off of a pretty good, solid season overseas and I'm excited to get back on the court, healthy! And I look forward to playing with a great team and coach.
SS: This is your 10th season in the WNBA, what's left for you to accomplish?
CP: What's left? Winning is always something that you want to accomplish. Winning it all would be the top of it. To do it for Chicago and my family would be great.