Nyliberty.com caught up with four-time WNBA All Star, three-time WNBA champion, two-time WNBA rebounding champion, and the newest addition to the Liberty roster, Cheryl Ford.
Where are you now and what are you up to?
Im in Samsun, Turkey playing basketball. Im playing well. Our team won't make it to the playoffs so my goal is to finish strong AND healthy! (laughs) Every time I talk to Bill hes telling me to make sure I stay healthy. And I am, I am! I have a few bruises, they are tough out here, usually Im the one doing all the bruising but its a good challenge in Turkey.
What have you been working on this season?
Im just doing me, rebounding. Thats what I do. And Im working on my free throws. Free throws have always been one of the weaker points of my game throughout my career so Im working on that.
Why did you take a break from the WNBA?
Just to rest my body after surgeries. I was out one year with a micro-fracture, then an ACL, and then I had both knees scoped. My body needed to heal; I couldnt continue to do both WNBA and the overseas season. The doctor actually told me years ago that I would never play again and that I had to put health and myself first. I did and I believed him. I didnt think I would play again. Only my mother had faith that I would play again with the right rehab and mix of rest and hard work. She told me that I would play again. It was a tough road with some sore days and some good days. But I came back, sometimes playing through pain, but here I am. Right now my knees feel good. My body feels as good as its been.
Why did you decide to come back to the WNBA?
Ive been asked to come back for the last three years but it just didnt feel right. I had a bond with Bill. When he came out here to Turkey to visit he watched me play, we talked in person and then Bill called me everyday after that. (laughs). I called my mom to talk about it. I prayed on it. It felt right. I have nothing to prove. Im still playing overseas, averaging a double-double. Im a little thinner these days, a little less strong, but still handling my business, doing my thing.
What did Bill Laimbeer say to you during his visit to Turkey?
He told me he came back to win. He said I couldnt play for anyone else but him. I agreed with him. If I came back I was only coming back to win. Thats what this is about, to win. He was persistent. He called everyday, and honey, if I didnt pick up, hed call again.
Given your experience playing for Bill in Detroit, what expectations do you have for him this season?
Im not expecting anything more or less than how he treated us in Detroit. Bill and I have a different bond. Hes a players coach. He doesnt keep you on the court forever, he gets you in and out, and I like that. He knows the game, he knows the rulebook, and I looked up to him.
Have you spoken to anyone on the team recently?
I woke up to a facebook message from Plenette. Cappie tweeted at me. Katie Smith tweeted me that she is excited to get back on the court with me. I just recently played Essences team. After the game Essence joked with me, youre mean on the court, dont be so mean! And I said, why do you think Bill wants me?
How have you been received by the fans?
I have received so much love from the fans. Its really been overwhelming in a good way. I wasnt expecting this much but I definitely felt the love from the fans. Fans reached out to say theyre happy that Im back, or that they want to come to the games. One woman said she wanted to come but didnt know if she could get tickets, I told her, if you want to come to a game, you can have my tickets!
What will you bring to the table that the Liberty are in need of?
Cappie Pondexter told me that she needs me in there to rebound. Thats my thing and thats what I do. I guess I have a knack for the ball. People always ask how do I rebound so well, I guess its something like Im in the right place at the right time!
What was the response from your family and friends about your return to the WNBA and move to New York?
My closest friends knew before it was announced publicly and they were happy for me and proud of me. My mom was happy because she hasnt seen me since I last left the WNBA due to injuries. Her back keeps her from traveling by plane. Its been a while since shes watched me play.
Are you familiar with New York City? What do you plan to do first?
Not at all! Im from Summerfield, Louisiana. Theres a lot of people in New York City. Im not sure if Im ready for the city. But I hear well be living in White Plains so it should be ok out there. White Plains might be my kind of living. What will I do first in New York? Shop maybe. Im coming to play ball, honey.