SI: Last year you said you couldn't imagine yourself coming back.
Cooper: I played some pickup ball in the Virgin Islands when I
was doing a basketball camp last July, and it sparked something.
It got the fire going again.
SI: You retired at the top of your game in 2000, after leading
the Comets to a fourth consecutive title. Do you worry about
tarnishing your legacy?
Cooper: No. I worry about being the type of player I was when I
June 1, 2003
SI: Can you be that player again?
Cooper: When I get back to 100 percent with my conditioning, I
think I'll be exactly where I was when I left.
SI: When will we see an 18-year-old girl follow the LeBron James
route and jump straight from high school to the WNBA?
Cooper: Maybe in the next five years.
SI: Have you ever played with your fellow Houston hoops star Yao
Cooper: No, but he did hold my daughter [10-month-old Cyan]. In
his arms she seemed even smaller than she actually was.
SI: Before resigning you went 19-23 as the coach of the Phoenix
Mercury. Will you return to coaching?
Cooper: I definitely want to go back, but I think I want to coach
on a collegiate level.
SI: You're fluent in Italian. Ever curse at the refs in Italian
to avoid a T?
Cooper: Yes, I have. And it's a good curse word.
SI: Do any teammates dare call you Grandma?
Cooper: Well, there's one player who calls me Forty, and that's
[27-year-old] Rita Williams [now with the Seattle Storm].
SI: You said recently that what you really missed was "hanging
out in the locker room with the girls" and just talking. So what
do WNBA players talk about in the locker room?
Cooper: Men [laughs]. I mean, we talk basketball and sometimes
strategy and home life, too. But men. --Richard Deitsch
For more from Cynthia Cooper, go to si.com/scorecard.