Teresa Edwards Always Helping Basketball
*Photo via AJC
Usually in the summertime or whenever it stays warm, I head over to the parks and watch some playground basketball games. I see all types of ballers, young, old, and oh yeah, I see basketball trainers working out players that are trying to improve their game for the upcoming season. This past summer it was kinda dead and it wasn't even that hot. I have heard the phrase " Ball is Life" but that isn't the case. Ball is definitely not life, especially this past summer. Some of the parks I went to didn't have too many basketball players in them balling from sun up to sun down like how we used to do it. There are too many distractions for the youth, with social media and technology, why go outside and play basketball or improve on your game??
Anyway, one particular fall Sunday, I decided to go to Riverside Park out here in New York City. There might have been 10 players there, one decent half-court game and the rest were just shooting around. I was chilling on the benches, watching the half-court game and one kid was shooting by himself at the next hoop. Then two women came into the park. One lady was the kid's mother and the other looked familiar, but I couldn't really see her face because it was starting to get dark earlier (The whole daylight savings time). She looked like a former basketball player by her stance. Well the familiar looking woman started talking to the kid, so I was guessing that was his basketball trainer.
She starts instructing him on how to make lay ups and shooting the ball. Then she shows him how to get in a low stance, shoot and follow-through on his shot. She must have made like 10 in a row moving around the court. My hunch was right, she was a former basketball player and a very good one at that. I had to get a closer look, so I got up from the bench area and went near the park gate. The woman instructing the kid looked like living legend Teresa Edwards. I wasn't too sure though. I was going to ask the kid's mother who was sitting on the bench a few feet from me, but she was on the phone or something.
So I waited until the young player got a water break and then asked the basketball trainer if she was the legendary basketball pioneer, Teresa Edwards. She replied yes and humbly started talking to me as we went back and forth about basketball. It was an honor to be talking to a 5 time Olympian (winner of 4 gold medals) and the youngest and oldest player to ever win a gold medal.She took the University of Georgia to two Final Fours in 1983 and 1985. Ms. Edwards also paved the way for women and young girl's coming up in basketball and athletics in general. Sports illustrated magazine placed her as 22nd in their "100 Greatest Female Athletes of the 20th Century"
Even though she only played 2 years in the WNBA (out of her prime), Teresa Edwards was very instrumental in the insertion of the WNBA league in 1997. See before that year, there weren't any real outlets or options after college for women basketball players in the United States. All the legitimate leagues were overseas. There were a few leagues like the ABL in which Teresa played and coached but it eventually folded. After her college career, she and other women players made their name overseas and if you were good enough like Ms. Edwards, on your country's Olympic team.
We talked for a good 30 minutes about her coaching run with the WNBA's Tulsa Shock (who will be moving to Dallas) and her last coaching gig as an assistant coach to Michael Cooper's Atlanta Fever. We also spoke on the difference between our generation and the new generation. We both agreed, our generation accepted coaching more than the newbies and there wasn't too much to do inside the house so we went outside to play basketball and work on our games. The way she talked, you wouldn't have known she was this legendary figure in basketball. She is a very humble woman. I am hoping to have her come talk to the girls I coach. All girls coming up need to know about their basketball history and icons like Ms.Teresa Edwards.