The Next Big Thing

Let’s play a quick game called Name That Baller. Here are your hints:

a) won a national player of the year award in college

b) first year as a pro: made the All-Star team first year

c) second year: won a championship and was named and Finals MVP

d) third year: was second in the league in scoring

e) initials are CP, hails from Chicago, wears No. 23

Hmmm… Chicago makes you think Dwyane Wade, but his initials aren’t CP…which then makes you think about Chris Paul, but he doesn’t wear 23…although LeBron James does, but he’s never won a title.

In fact, only one basketball player can lay claim to all those accolades…and her name is Cappie Pondexter.

And if she has her way, she’ll be achieving a lot more in her career – and not just in basketball.

Cappie holding the WNBA championship trophy and the Finals MVP in 2007.

Pondexter, a guard/forward for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, has quickly become one of the league’s best players in only her fourth season. But the former Rutgers star doesn’t want to be just one of best basketball players in the league. According to her Web site, cappiepondexter.com, she wants to be “the greatest woman to ever play the game.”

And she has not – and will not – back down from that statement.

“Potentially, I can definitely do it,” Pondexter said last week at a launch party in New York for her new sneaker. “My game is not just one-dimensional. You can get a lot of flavor…you can get the dribble, off the dribble, you can get the jump shot (from) mid-range, you can get the three, the passing…whatever it is.”

Pondexter’s trip to New York was part of a jam-packed week of activities. July 22 she scored 28 points in a home loss to Minnesota. Three days later, she was in Connecticut for the WNBA All-Star Game at the Mohegan Sun Resort, where she put up nine points, nine rebounds and six assists in 17 minutes for the West All-Stars, who beat the East 130-118. Pondexter rejoined the Mercury in New York the next afternoon for a game against the Liberty, which Phoenix won 94-88.

Unfortunately, there is no rest for the weary, as Pondexter hosted a party that night in Midtown Manhattan to celebrate the release of her new sneaker from Protégé, a brand created by New York Knicks forward Al Harrington. The party, held at the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan, was also to celebrate the launch of Four Seasons Stylin’ Management, which reaches out to athletes and entertainers to assist in anything from personal shopping video shoots to wardrobe maintenance.

Pondexter first had the idea in college and collaborated up with Lisa Smith-Craig, whom she met through a mutual friend a few years ago, after realizing they both shared the same fervor for imagination and creativity.

“We’re both creative people,” said Pondexter. “I’m coming from the athletic world, she’s coming from the music industry world…we’re trying to get the best of both worlds.

Pondexter played her college ball at Rutgers where she was named to the All-Big East First team all four years, the only women ever to achieve that feat. The Chicago native could have chosen to play closer to home, but she wanted to play for Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer.

“She’s the best!” Pondexter said of Stringer, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this past April. “She’s someone who I definitely look up to…I couldn’t resist it.”

With all her success, some would think that Cappie Pondexter is content where she is. Nope. She wants more. More championships. More MVP awards. Another gold medal to go with the one she won in Beijing with the U.S. National Team. She also wants Four Seasons Stylin’ Management, as she puts it, “to go to a whole other level.”

With the way things have gone for her so far…would you expect anything different?

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