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Women's Hoops

The latest news and analysis on college and pro women's basketball.

March 12, 2009 at 12:50 PM

It’s official: Tina Thompson signs with LA

TinaThompson.jpgFormer Houston legend Tina Thompson recently completed her conference call, stating that she’s going to keep her home in Houston, but that she’s happy to return to her native Los Angeles to play for the Sparks. Thompson, who became an unrestricted free agent after the Comets folded, also considered San Antonio, Connecticut, and Washington before signing a multiyear deal with LA.
Thompson, the inaugural No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA in 1997, has already seen her jersey and was a little startled at the look of her name not being in Houston red.
“It’s definitely going to be hard for me to put on another jersey,” said Thompson, a seven-time All-Star. “It was a little overwhelming, but there’s excitement as well, just knowing what my future could be like in basketball being at home again. I’m still taking it all in myself.”
Thompson (pictured right) said it wasn’t really until about two weeks ago that she decided she wanted to play basketball again. She then reached out to the teams where she had the best relationships, but family won over. Thompson, who played at Morningside High in Inglewood, has an 89-year-old grandmother in the Los Angeles area among other family and friends.
“I’m a person about relationships and those four teams were the teams I was choosing from because I have great relationships,” said Thompson, whose agent said early-on she wasn’t considering Seattle. “[My grandmother’s] time is limited in comparison to most. Me being able to spend more time with her and for her to be able to come out and see games was a lot to me making my decision.”
Thompson will help fill the void left by reigning MVP Candace Parker, who is expecting her first child in May. Parker said she hopes to return in July at the earliest.
As an interesting side note, UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell, a Tennessee alum, has worked with the Sparks organization and the Vols on the LA pro team to help cross-market the programs. Thompson’s Southern California doesn’t have a similar ticket package, but when asked, she of course said she’d help generate ticket sales. She’s even inquired about attending this week’s Pac-10 tournament at the Galen Center. Her sixth-seeded Trojans face No. 3 seed Arizona State on Friday.
“USC has contributed in a big way to my basketball career with me being able to play in the WNBA,” Thompson said. “If there’s a need, I’m available.”

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