A condensed version of Dan Patrick's interview with Phoenix Mercury guard Michele Timms appears in the July 23 edition of ESPN The Magazine.
DP: Hey, Michele.
MT: Hey, Dan.
DP: With that accent, you can say anything and it makes me smile.
MT: Oh, I don't know about that. I think it's wearing a bit thin now, the old Aussie accent in America. It used to be that we were a novelty. There weren't too many Aussies.
DP: Crocodile Dundee fallout, huh? The novelty has worn off.
MT: Oh, and probably Russell Crowe, the old gladiator ... what was his latest movie?
DP: "Proof of Life."
MT: In Australia they reckon he said mate like, 85 times or something, in the two hours.
DP: Do you say mate?
MT: Not at all. No, girls say matey -- it's more of a, you know, laid-back mate. Boys say mate and girls say matey. It's like an unspoken rule in Australia.
DP: Have you had a Vegemite sandwich?
MT: Yes. I don't like them. I'm sure it's an acquired taste.
DP: It made me throw up. I just -- I hated it.
MT: I don't know who made it up or where it came from, but it's definitely -- you know, everyone associates Vegemite with Australia. But I don't know how many Australians actually eat Vegemite -- and I'm sure as hell not one of them.
DP: It's Men at Work, you know, with that line...
DP: Yes, that's where it started.
MT: A Vegemite sandwich.
DP: Then we tried it and said, "Thanks, that's why those guys are no longer around."
MT: Yes, right, they died of Vegemite, I reckon.
DP: Name the three best players in the WNBA right now.
MT: Even though Cynthia Cooper isn't playing, I'm going to say Coops, because who knows what could happen. We're hoping she'll come back and play for the Mercury, but Coops, even when she's on one leg, I think she's still one of the best. And probably Lisa Leslie.
DP: Do you think I could take Lisa Leslie in a 3-point shooting contest from the NBA three?
DP: Thank you.
MT: I think you could. She's not a great NBA 3-point shooter, I wouldn't say.
DP: I can shoot the three -- that's all I can do.
MT: Yes, I think you might beat her at that, but I'll tell you, you wouldn't beat her back to basket.
DP: Oh, I know that. I told her that, but ... she said she could take me in anything.
MT: Oh really?
DP: I said I'll shoot. You want to shoot free throws? I'll shoot free throws.
MT: She's not Shaquille O'Neal ... I'd say the 3-point line might be safe.
DP: Yes, I'd own her. I told her that. I said when I beat her, she had to give me one of her gold medals.
MT: Oh, good on you. Rub it in ... way to go.
DP: If Michael Jordan comes back, should Cynthia Cooper?
MT: Yes -- only if she can come back and play for the Mercury.
DP: Is she allowed to do that?
MT: No, I don't think -- I think Houston still has the contract rights to her.
DP: Coops is one of my favorite people.
MT: Well, she's great.
DP: Yes, I really get a kick out of her.
DP: She's been on a few times with me and ... I love her attitude. It's not one of those, hey, I'm talking to a female basketball player, I'm just talking to a basketball player.
MT: Yes ... that's the thing about athletes. There's no girls or boys, it's all just no gender at all.
DP: Is basketball more accepted being a female in Australia than it is here?
MT: Umm, I think, yes -- I wouldn't say it's not accepted here, though, would you?
DP: I just didn't know if it was more accepted back there.
MT: Oh yes. It's totally accepted over there. I guess it's because of the national teams. It's one of the most successful team sports in Australia.
DP: Name three cities where the WNBA is firmly established.
MT: Houston, Phoenix and New York.
DP: Give me a sampling of the trash talk in your league. What is said? Is it the way guys trash talk?
MT: Oh my goodness...
DP: Does it get dirty? Does it get mean-spirited?
MT: Oh yes, it definitely does. It gets dirty all right.
DP: Give me an idea.
MT: Umm ... it's probably what the girls have heard the guys say, you know, don't bring that [garbage] in here sort of stuff, you know. Not in my kitchen. Get that out of there.
DP: Who's the worst trash talker?
MT: Oh, at training, I'd say Bridget Pettis, my own teammate ... in a friendly, joking way. But there's so many of them right across the board, which is a little bit odd because in Australia we don't do that -- we don't trash talk. So coming here, it was a real cultural experience for me.
DP: So you had to learn to trash talk?
MT: No, generally I don't trash talk in the game. I only trash talk to the refs.
DP: Can you say an expression in a certain dialect or anything in Australian that would mean something that the official wouldn't know?
MT: No, no. It's not like German and stuff like that.
DP: But you have expressions that you could use to call somebody something, couldn't you? That they wouldn't know that you're actually saying something that's not polite.
DP: Like, what's a mean thing you could say to somebody with some of your expressions.
MT: They're pretty much the same as American, though.
DP: Yes, but ... like in England, they'll call you a wanker.
MT: Oh yes. No, you guys don't know what a wanker is. Yes, we do use that term.
DP: So you will call somebody a wanker.
MT: Yes, probably under my breath ... I shouldn't admit to that, but yes.
DP: You've referred to the officials as wankers?
MT: No, no, I'm not going to admit to that. No. Even though I have, I'm not going to admit to that.
DP: Is there a celebrity with an NBA team? ... You have Jack Nicholson with the Lakers. Is there somebody similar in the WNBA?
MT: Shaquille O'Neal goes to a lot of the games [in L.A.]. He sits on the side and talks trash. But there's not too many actors or actresses who come to the games, I don't think.
DP: Is it every day that some guy will say he thinks he's better than you? How often does that happen?
MT: I'd say pretty much. ... Whether it's a security guy or someone I'm buying a ticket to a movie from or whatever, they'll say, "You got game, but I'm going to take you on. Come on, let's play some one on one." That sort of stuff.
DP: Does it get tired?
MT: Not at all.
DP: Because men compare it to the way men play, and therefore we say, well I could do what they do.
DP: You know, you aren't doing something outstanding like Vince Carter would, because Vince Carter does things that we can't do. But if you shoot the three or hit a 15-footer, we as guys say, well we can do that.
MT: Yes, but ... I see it as nothing but respect when somebody off the street says that -- I don't take it as a negative ... that they want to challenge me shows respect.
DP: When I call you Tank Girl, are you happy about that?
MT: Yes, it's fine. I love the character. You've seen the movie?
DP: Yes ... but if somebody hears Tank Girl, they probably don't put it with the movie. They probably say, is he calling her a tank? You know, that's probably not a polite thing to say.
MT: Yes, but I'm not a tank. I mean, if you see me, you know that's not why they call me Tank Girl.
DP: And what about Timmsy.
MT: Timmsy, you know, the funny thing about Aussies is that we're so inventive -- we always add a "y" on the end of our surname to make our nicknames, so that's what I did.
DP: Any other nicknames?
MT: No -- well, none that are nice words. So it's just Timmsy and Tank Girl.
DP: Is there somebody you don't get along with in the WNBA?
MT:No, not really. It's just the officials.
DP: You don't have somebody that you just don't get along with, that's a rivalry? You can't tell me you get along...
MT: A rivalry. OK, like a hate thing. I'm thinking...
DP: Well, you may not hate them but you can't tell me you get along with everybody.
MT: Oh, no, no. Rivalry? Definitely L.A. And that went back to Cheryl Miller was our coach and she had this rivalry thing with Lisa Leslie and so the whole team took that on ... but I have total respect for them. They're probably going to win the damn championship this year. They're so good. ... We always have a really healthy rivalry with Houston. I'd say L.A. is an unhealthy rivalry.
DP: Is there a player in the NBA who best exemplifies your style? ... Who would be you in the NBA?
MT: You know, I've thought about this and I don't think there is one, sad to say, especially not lately. I've been injured pretty much the last 18 months, but when I first started and I was healthy and playing a lot, I thought John Stockton -- however, who I want to be is probably Jason Kidd.
DP: Have you played against Jason?
MT: No, just taken a few shots with him, but I've not played with him or anything like that.
DP: You're probably as good a shooter as he is.
DP: Set your game to music.
MT: Well, I think the WNBA ought to do that. Maybe the perfect way would be to put me in this ad with a song called "I'm Just a Girl."
DP: Do you know who the artist is?
DP: You're not up on pop culture?
MT: No, I just go with the flow ... I don't know who's who or what. I just know the songs.
DP: Last concert you went to?
MT: Let me think, let me think. I went to a fantastic one but I don't know if it was the last one. It was -- it was so fantastic I've forgotten the name. No, no, let me think. What's her name, Cher. That's really the last one I went to.
DP: You saw Cher?
MT: It was awesome.
DP: What made you want to go see Cher?
MT: Free tickets. And it was just fantastic. It was just unbelievable. ... The latest one I just saw was Dame Edna live in Phoenix. Do you get that?
DP: Dame Edna scares me, though.
MT: She's fantastic. He, she, whatever you want to call it.
MT: It's fantastic. It's just so good.
DP: Who's your favorite actress?
MT: Oh, I'd have to say Jodie Foster, probably.
MT: Or Whoopie Goldberg. You can't get past Whoopie.
DP: What's the movie you like that Whoopie was in.
MT: "Color Purple" -- my all-time favorite movie.
DP: It made you cry?
MT: Oh yes.
DP: Do you watch Hollywood Squares? You know that Whoopie's on Hollywood Squares?
MT: Yes, I do. I do watch. I've watched it a little bit. I don't tune in every night but I've probably seen it once a month or something.
DP: Absolutely Fabulous?
MT: Absolutely. Yes, love it. I've got every DVD of them.
DP: Do you.
MT: Yes, it's a real cult thing in Australia.
DP: Six brothers -- can you beat them one-on-one in any other sport?
MT: Cricket. Probably not. Football, yes, I reckon I could beat some of them in football -- Aussie rules football.
DP: Have you played Aussie rules football?
MT: Not a serious game, no. When I was growing up girls weren't allowed to -- they didn't have a girls competition.
DP: Do your brothers get upset that you can beat them in basketball?
MT: No. They used to -- when we were younger they did.
DP: Have you been to Bank One Ballpark?
DP: Do you have a favorite Arizona Diamondback?
MT: Everyone's going to go for the popular Randy Johnson, aren't they?
DP: What kind of basketball player do you think Randy Johnson would make?
MT: I couldn't even imagine it ... I don't know.
DP: He's 6-10.
MT: Yes, I know. He just doesn't grab me. He's a bit thin.
DP: But don't you think he could be one of those guys who just sits at the end of the bench?
MT: Yes, definitely.
DP: Do you have a favorite Phoenix Sun?
MT: Jason Kidd.
DP: Have you been to an Arizona Cardinals football game?
MT: No, I haven't.
DP: Well, you're not alone.
DP: Favorite book?
MT: "The Thorn Birds."
DP: If you said to an American, there's one place you have to go in Australia, where would it be?
MT: Mmm, I would say -- one place. You're making this really difficult. There's a million places...
DP: I know, but the one place you'd say, it's us.
MT: It's beautiful.
DP: It's us.
MT: OK, it's us. Well, then I'd say Sydney.
DP: Well, no, I need something a little bit -- Sydney's big. I've been to Sydney.
MT: OK, I'd say Port Douglas.
MT: Because it is one of the most beautiful places on this planet. It's tropical, it's just a wonderful little hideaway.
DP: Have you bungee-jumped?
MT: No, but I've jumped out of an airplane.
DP: You did?
MT: Tandem. About three years ago.
DP: On a dare?
MT: Up in Port Douglas. No, it was one of those things when you ... want to face your fears. Doing that stupid stuff. And there was that and bungee-jumping, so I figured that that was probably going to be scarier than bungee-jumping. But now I've done that. It seems like a bit of a piece of cake, so I reckon bungee-jumping would be much more terrifying.
DP: You didn't wet yourself when you jumped out of the plane?
MT: No, I didn't wet myself. I did think I was going to pass out, but I didn't wet myself.
DP: When did you know you were OK -- once the chute opened?
MT: Well, I went tandem ... I mean, dying on my own terrified me, but I had this stranger I was strapped to and I figured, well, if I go, you know, if this chute doesn't open, it was going to be both of us going together. So for some reason I wasn't so worried about that. And once we got out there, my fear was gone.
DP: The Mercury's Web site says your favorite doll is Bozo the Clown -- can you explain that?
MT: Oh my god, how embarrassing. Does it really?
MT: Why in the hell does it say that?
DP: I don't know. I've been doing some homework.
MT: Yes, I reckon you really dug that one out.
MT: No, Bozo the Clown was a TV show that was, oh god. That's bringing back memories. It was a TV show for little kids when I was very, very young. So I was about 4 or 5, and you could write in and you got tickets to go, and so I always had a Bozo the Clown doll, and finally one day they sent me a letter saying you've been invited to a Bozo the Clown show. And actually Bozo the Clown was the doll that I practiced kissing on. How's that.
DP: You practiced making out with Bozo the Clown?
MT: Yes. That was the one thing I practiced on.
DP: So then you tell somebody, hey, dress up like Bozo the Clown...
MT: And I'll plant one on you. I'll tell you what -- I've probably kissed a few bozos as well.
DP: Define clutch.
MT: To me it means making the big play in the dying seconds.
DP: The three biggest clutch players in the WNBA?
DP: You see, you keep bringing Cooper back. She's now a coach. ... Did you honestly think she was going to play and go back to Houston and quit coaching?
DP: Oh, OK ... because Coop was ready to move on. She's ready to get married and move on.
MT: Yes, that's right.
DP: Or so she tells me.
DP: Hey, good luck the rest of the season, Tank Girl.
MT: Thank you very much, matey.