The quest for Olympic gold kicks off tonight, and USA Basketball is looking to defend it’s title on both the men’s and women’s sides.
It is quite the honor to make that final roster. We sat down with a two-time medalist who now spends her time helping the younger generations become better players and better people.
Teresa Weatherspoon is quite the kid at heart, developing young talent has always been a calling for this hoops phenom.
"It’s always so much fun because you realize that someone did it for you,” she smiled.
She brought her energy, enthusiasm and encouragement to the New York Liberty Summer Camp, teaching girls about the sport of basketball and the game of life.
“It’s all about being great people," she said. "It just made it so exciting to be part of their lives and hopefully they had as good of a time as I did."
Teresa, or T-Spoon as she goes by, learned the importance of compassion at an early age, growing up in Pineland, Texas
"The one thing in our home that my mom and dad stressed was love and care and give,” Weatherspoon said.
And oh she gave everything to reach her goals! Despite leading her team to the 1988 NCAA National Title her senior year, playing professional ball in the United States wasn’t an option.
“It’s just unbelievable because the sacrifice that we had to make," she remembered. "If you wanted to continue to play you had to go overseas.”
That same year the point guard earned a coveted spot on the Olympic roster.
“When you put that uniform on, it is the best feeling that you could ever have,” Weatherspoon gushed.
They won gold and four years later, took home bronze.
“I was trying to bite my medal like everybody else did," she laughed. "You’d probably lose your tooth if you tried to bite as hard as I did.”
So you might be wondering...where are her medals?
"My medals are in a safety deposit box in Pineland, Texas," she laughed. "I told my family from the beginning, everything I do is for you so my family has them."
It wasn’t until 1997 that players like T-Spoon finally got their chance in America with the formation of the WNBA. She was a pioneer, and a member of the inaugural New York Liberty.
“We were overwhelmed and ready to go, this was awesome," she remembered. "But then we get here and the first thing you hear is ah this won’t last five years, and no one’s going to come watch. It motivated us to show that we belong.”
She was a four time all-star, league leader in assists and part of four championship final games.
"One thing about me is that I never really cared about stats, I just played the game," she said. "I just wanted to make everyone around me better, that was my job.”
She retired in 2004 and a few years later served as head coach of her Alma mater, Louisiana Tech.
"It was absolutely awesome for me," she remembered. "Unfortunately, things change and they move in different directions and there’s a little bit of pain that goes with that.”
She was let go after five seasons but in T-Spoon quickly found herself back in New York, where she calls home, as the Liberty’s Director of Player Development.
"This is really special, to watch them grow and that’s like championship for me," T-Spoon gushed.
It’s the same joy whether she’s teaching professionals or pre-teens.
"We, who are called the pioneers, are so excited about where our game is going because you have to remember there are other little eyes that are dreaming too," she said.
T-Spoon offered up her advice to this year’s Olympians: Bring home gold, only gold!
The Liberty’s first game back after the break is August 26th.
Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi