NEW YORK -- Never one at a loss for words, WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes had plenty to say when she sat down with espnW at last week's unveiling of the Nike Women's Elite Basketball collection. After cracking jokes with Sue Bird, Chiney Ogumike, Elena Delle Donne and Jewell Loyd, Swoopes put on her game face to discuss the state of the WNBA, her Finals predictions and some of her favorite players.
Q&A with Sheryl Swoopes
Q: What do you think about the state of the league right now and the level of talent from when you started to where it is now?
A: We crush everybody right now. I'm just playing. Here's what I will say. I will take our Houston Comets team and put them up against any team in the league today. Obviously us at our prime, I would. Here's why: We had a very good system. We knew how to play together. We knew how to win. We brought it every day, every possession. The players today, I don't feel like they love the game. There are some, not all of them, but overall I don't feel like the passion is there for the game. There are some absolutely. Elena, honestly, love her. She is probably one of my top three.
"Brittney has the ability I think to change the game ... My issue with her situation is just putting all her business out there. Do you, be you, live your life, but you've got to know people are watching you." Sheryl Swoopes on Brittney Griner
Q: But overall how do you feel about the state of the WNBA as a product?
A: I think the product that's being put on the floor is a good one, when you have players like an Elena, like a Skylar Diggins, although she got hurt. Skylar's good for this league. She's ... not only is she pretty, actually I think she's beautiful, but she can play, you know what I mean? A lot of people were like, "Skylar's going to be like the Anna Kournikova of the WNBA, because she can play." She's very well spoken. She's out in the community, but Skylar has got to start doing more for the league. She's good for the league.
Q: What are your thoughts on superstars like Brittney Griner and Maya Moore?
A: Maya is without a doubt good for the league, for sure. I mean, right now I think most people probably watch WNBA during playoff time. For Maya to have a performance like she's had in the playoffs, it's huge for the league.
Brittney has the ability, I think, to change the game because of the things that she's able to do, simply dunking a basketball. People say they want to see that. My issue with her situation is just putting all her business out there. Do you, be you, live your life, but you've got to know people are watching you, right or wrong, good or bad, fair or unfair. You have to be careful with what you're putting out there for the world to see. I think it's unfortunate the situation that she and Glory [Johnson] went through, but it was public. People already have an idea of what the WNBA is about and what it's like, so then when they see those types of stories and that type of drama, then it becomes a 'See, I told you so.'
"She's very well spoken. She's out in the community, but Skylar has got to start doing more for the league. She's good for the league." Sheryl Swoopes on Skylar Diggins
Q: It's Indiana and Minnesota in the WNBA Finals. Who are you picking to win?
A: I ain't going against Catch [Tamika Catchings], I'm going to just tell you.
Q: I'm guessing that means Indiana?
A: Oh, yeah. They were down by 18 the other day. They should not be playing at all. I ain't going against Catch.
Q: Right now, a lot of people are focused on the near future of the league, specifically the 2016 WNBA draft with Breanna Stewart. What are your thoughts on her game and the possibility of her winning four national championships at UConn?
A: She's legit. She's the real deal. I do think she's got to get stronger to play in the W. I'm just telling you because I was there. Fair or unfair, she's going to have a target on her back, so every night she got to bring it. People are going to want to prove to other people she's not what everybody says she is, but I think she will be a very good pro. Where she's going, I think, is a very good fit for her. You got Jewell Loyd on one wing, you got Stewie either playing the 3 or the 4. Sue [Bird is] coming back. Some of the other pieces they have around them. It's not going to take Seattle a long time.