Throughout her illustrious career as a player and coach, Teresa Weatherspoon has been a standard bearer.
She was part of the first class of players to enter the WNBA, allocated to the New York Liberty when the league launched in 1997. When she came into the league, she already had earned an NCAA title with Louisiana Tech in 1988, an Olympic gold medal in 1988 and a bronze medal in 1992; she also played overseas for eight years.
A true legend of the game at the helm in Skytown now pic.twitter.com/vf3MJUqDQ5— Chicago Sky (@chicagosky) October 24, 2023
Spoon played eight seasons (1997-2004) in the W, seven of which were with the Liberty, with tremendous heart and spirit, enabling her to become one of the most beloved players. Perhaps she is best remembered for “The Shot” in Game 2 of the 1999 Finals against the Houston Comets, draining a halfcourt heave with 2.4 seconds left to give the Liberty the victory.
Since then, she accumulated additional accomplishments. She was the head coach at her alma mater Louisiana Tech from 2009-2014, the Liberty’s director of player development from 2015-2019 and a two-way player development and assistant coach for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. She also was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.
Now, she again adds to her resume. She is the new head coach of the Chicago Sky.
With Spoon, the Sky are aiming high
“We are thrilled to welcome Teresa Weatherspoon as the new head coach of the Chicago Sky,” Sky co-owner and operating chairperson Nadia Rawlinson said in the press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 24. “A WNBA legend and five-time All-Star, Olympian, and college national champion, Teresa brings a wealth of NBA and college coaching experience to the Sky. Her standard of excellence and history of winning at all levels, passion, energy and skill in player development make Teresa the perfect choice to build on our championship culture and usher in an exciting new era.”
She’s here and she’s W O N D E R F U L pic.twitter.com/w5ofMUR1FO— Chicago Sky (@chicagosky) October 24, 2023
Her welcome to the city comes at a time when the Sky are looking to chart a new course, both on and off the court. The Sky are coming off a trying season filled with injuries, the abrupt exit of former head coach and general manager James Wade and periodic losing streaks. But, they also persevered to reach the playoffs for a fifth-consecutive season.
Chicago also re-signed captain, two-time All Star and 2021 Finals MVP Kahleah Copper to a two-year deal. Add to that a new ownership group that includes NBA Hall of Famer and Chicago native Dwyane Wade and the Sky are poised to become one of the more profitable franchises in the league with an $85 million valuation. The organization also is looking to improve marketing, elevate fan experiences and secure a new practice facility.
The hiring of Weatherspoon further brings a renewed sense of optimism and positive vibes, something that Copper is beyond excited to take part in. “Beyond the accolades, you’re an amazing person,” Copper said to Weatherpoon at the press conference. “Someone I can really relate to and someone that I want to give all that you really deserve. So I am proud to be here and be part of this organization and I’m ready to gear up.”
Time to “stir things up” in Chicago
Weatherspoon is looking to bring the burning desire and passion she brought to her other ventures to the Sky. It is an opportunity that she does not intend to take for granted, guaranteeing that she will “give it her all” to bring greatness back to a city that has a rich history of sporting excellence.
She is relying on support from the player Sky fans affectionately refer to as “KFC”. “We will take over this town,” Weatherspoon said. “You can write it. You can mark it. But there is a way that you do it. And in the way I have the opportunity to do it, look who I have to my right (Copper). It’s her time to lead this organization in the right way.”
A truly historic day in Skytown— Chicago Sky (@chicagosky) October 24, 2023
Let’s work, Coach! pic.twitter.com/xdG3rbgYAx
Through tears, she thanked Rawlinson, Adam Fox (chief operating officer) and Michael Alter (principal owner) for all their efforts in welcoming her. She had trouble putting into words what it means for her to be in this position:
If I could really find the words to tell you all what this means to me, you would truly understand my journey. It hasn’t been an easy journey. You can take a look at all the accolades and hear all that, but nothing easy and that’s why I am who I am. Sometimes you find failure to get you out of the familiar and that’s where I am in my life and I want the players that I have an opportunity to touch, the players that I have an opportunity to be a part of to understand that and how to get through that. And that’s what I’ve done in my life.
It is those life lessons that Weatherspoon intends to bring to the organization as she aims not only to focus on the Xs and Os, but also to cultivate relationships, improve team chemistry, and get the team even more involved in the Chicago community. All with the desire, in keeping with her nickname, to “stir things up”.
Although the Sky do have a few more things to sort out during this offseason, including bringing on a new general manager, they all have much of the key ingredients needed to put together a recipe for success.
A spoonful, if you will.