Sheryl Swoopes is a big deal when it comes to basketball. Not only was she the ~first~ player to be signed in the WNBA in 1996 — and won MVP three times (the first player to do so) — but she’s also won three Olympic gold medals. Not to mention, she also won the first four WNBA championships with the Houston Comets and was often referred to as the “female Michael Jordan.” So, where is Sheryl Swoopes now?
Before getting to that, I'd like to point out that her fans voted her as being one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history. I can see why, as her stats were amazing — in 2005, she was averaging 18.6 points, 85 percent free throws, 2.65 steals, and 4.3 assists, all in 37.1 minutes of game time. Swoopes was also the second player in the WNBA to win both the regular season MVP and the All-Star Game MVP awards in the same season. In case you’re curious, Lisa Leslie was the first. (Bustle has reached out to Swoopes' team for comment and will update accordingly).
And, Swoopes was the first player in the WNBA to get a playoff triple-double, aka when you record three double-digit stats.
Swoopes played for Texas
Tech in the early ‘90s, leading them to the 1993 NCAA championship, where she
broke a record for scoring 47 points in an 84-82 game versus Ohio State. Before
that, she played two seasons of basketball at South Plains Junior College in
Texas and was already earning titles — in 1991,
she was named “Junior College Player of the Year.”
After winning gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and being recruited to play for the Houston Comets, Swoopes got an endorsement deal with Nike for Air Swoopes (yep, in the Air Jordan shoe family), too. This, too, was a big deal, as she was ~the first~ women’s basketball player to have a Nike shoe named after her. Pretty sweet, right?
Swoopes helped develop the shoe, making sure it was the right fit, so to speak, for the female foot. “It was inspired by Sheryl’s tenacity and her desire to be in the face of her competition,” Marni Gerber, the shoe’s lead designer told Nike. “I went to Lubbock, Texas to see her life, her family and friends… She was tough and needed her shoe to be agile and responsive, so that is what we designed.”
Swoopes wasn’t already a superstar, in the midst of it all, she decided to have a baby. Right before the first season of the WNBA, Swoopes revealed she
was pregnant. Taking time off to have her baby inspired other women to do the
same, helping revolutionize the concept.
“I don't know if anyone thought that was possible until [Sheryl] did it,” Los Angeles Sparks player Candace Parker told The Atlantic. “Once she did, then it became pretty normal.”
The WNBA stood alongside Swoopes. And, six weeks after her son Jordan was born, Swoopes went back to work on the court.
Swoopes played for the
Comets for 10 years and made over 2,000 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists, and
200 steals. Talk about mind-blowing. She then went on to play with the Seattle Storm for three years, as
well as the Tulsa Shock for one. You can check out a short clip of her playing prowess here:
After playing basketball for over two decades and unofficially retiring in 2012, she worked as the head women’s basketball coach at Loyola University from 2013 until this past July.
Earlier this year, on April 4, she was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, alongside other basketball greats, such as Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, and Yao Ming.
“I am so thrilled and
honored to be here in Houston to be named a Hall of Famer,” Swoopes said. “This
is the city where I accomplished so much during my professional career with the
And now she’s also busy cheering on Team USA:
She sure did leave the doors open, and big ups to her for that.
Images: Getty Images, WBNA/YouTube, Twitter