Storm's Tina Thompson balances basketball, life as mom
Tina Thompson is very succinct when writing about who she is. "Dyllan's Mom! " the bio tagline on Twitter reads. Tweets follow about her...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Tina Thompson filePosition: Forward
Height.: 6 feet 2
College: USC, 1997
Acquired: Signed as a free agent Feb. 27
Three-points: Only active player to win four WNBA championships ... Two-time gold medalist ... 1994 Pac-10 Freshman of Year ... Wears Mac "Diva" lipstick on game days ... Twitter handle is @iamtinathompson.
Scoreboard: WNBA's all-time leader in points (6,751) and minutes played (14,561) ... Appeared in 433 games, third-most all-time ... Eight-time WNBA All-Star ... Last remaining player from inaugural 1997 season was WNBA's first No. 1 overall draft pick ... Won Russian League and EuroLeague titles while playing for Spartak Moscow with Storm stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson.
Tina Thompson is very succinct when writing about who she is.
"Dyllan's Mom!" the bio tagline on Twitter reads.
Tweets follow about her son acing school projects, first football practices and new haircuts. But like any 6-year-old, Dyllan lives for the summer. That's when the expanded version of Thompson's bio is revealed.
That's the Thompson who won four consecutive WNBA championships as part of the defunct Houston Comets' "Big Three." The Thompson who owns the league record for points (6,751). The Thompson who is the only player remaining from the inaugural 1997 WNBA season.
The Thompson that Seattle is getting to see because Dyllan said it was cool.
"I'm able to play, still, at this point because Dyllan allows me to. If he didn't, I would have to find something else to do," said Thompson, 37, with a serious face. Born on May 12, 2005, Dyllan was an easy addition as Thompson blossomed into a basketball globetrotter, winning Russian league and EuroLeague titles with Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson.
"It's been a blessing that he kind of fit in so easily," said Thompson, a single parent. Former NBA player Damon Jones is the father but Thompson said she's the primary caregiver. "Dyllan hit the ground running, and it's been a whirlwind for all of us ever since."
The globetrotting was supposed to end in Thompson's native Los Angeles. She joined the Sparks in 2009 after the Comets folded. A former high school and college star in the city, hers was the homecoming that had everything but the Hollywood ending.
Injuries, including those to 2008 MVP Candace Parker, led to disappointing seasons and changed roles. Thompson, a 6-foot-2 forward, carried the team more than expected and the Sparks lost to the Storm in the opening round of the playoffs in 2010, then failed to reach the postseason last summer.
The team made a fourth coaching change, hiring Carol Ross, and made roster moves to get younger and protect against injuries inside, trading for post Nicky Anosike and drafting Nnemkadi Ogwumike with the top overall pick in April. Thompson considered returning, but another move felt best.
"Personally, in L.A., I underachieved and we underachieved," the unrestricted free agent said after the fourth day of Storm training camp on Thursday. "That weighed heavily on my mind as a competitor. You want to win. And it's OK if you don't have the best team; you still want to finish the best you can. That's always how I've been. But I wanted to be in an environment where every time I woke up, I wanted to come to work. And that the players I'm playing with thought the same way.
"That's what holds a lot of veterans in the game. Even if it's not winning a championship, you want to end on your best note. ... I want to be able to compete and contribute on my best note. If the body says no, then it's no."
Entering her 15th season, the body still hasn't said no. Thompson's agent, Aaron Goodwin of Seattle-based Goodwin Sports Management, said her career is moving toward sports broadcasting. Yet she can still drop three-pointers and bang inside with the league's best.
Brian Agler, Storm coach and general manager, signed Thompson to help Seattle fill the void inside while Seattle is without Jackson for the opening half of the season. Jackson is competing for her native Australia in the London Olympics.
Thompson can also help on the perimeter, possibly filling Swin Cash's small forward slot. Cash was traded to Chicago with top reserve Le'coe Willingham and a second-round draft pick to clear about $200,000 from a strapped Storm salary cap.
Once the full roster is in Seattle, Agler envisions posts Camille Little (6-2), Ann Wauters (6-4), Jackson (6-6) and Thompson sharing three spots on the floor with Bird and Tanisha Wright in the backcourt.
All can shoot threes. All can rebound. All can run.
"If you put enough weapons around Sue Bird, usually good things happen," Agler said.
Goodwin, who regards Thompson as a sister, said reports have been positive so far at camp. The coaching staff continues to throw sets at the 10 players in practice, preparing for the May 18 season opener against Thompson's former team, the Sparks, at KeyArena.
But while the vibe is good and Thompson is building a friendship and court chemistry with Little, the leader until Bird and Wright return, Thompson makes one thing clear.
"Do I consider myself a three? No," said Thompson, who averaged a season-low 9.9 points and 4.6 rebounds last year. "I'm absolutely a four with a little versatility. I'm going to hold on to that through and through. But can I go out there and fake it (small forward) really well? Yeah.
"For me, it makes it easy when I just know where everyone else is supposed to be. When you know that offense and where you're supposed to be, it's rare you're in a situation where you don't know what to do. So, I'm not against it at all."
Training camp is actually a slight break for Thompson. At home in Houston, she's usually up at 6:30 a.m. taking Dyllan to school and completing housework or grocery shopping until midnight as he sleeps with Lady Thompson, Tina's mother, nearby.
With the time difference between Seattle and Texas, their Skype conversations are done by 8 p.m. in Seattle and Thompson can go to bed early. But she can't wait until May 31, when he finishes school and gets another summer watching Mommy work.
"It's weird," Thompson said of being in Seattle alone. "I have moments where I'm teary-eyed because it's not normal. In the last six years, he's been right here. It's not easy, but we have to do what we have to do."
It's a tough job being Dyllan's Mom.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans