Astounding. When you work hard and do things the right way, the rewards will follow. You set a gold standard, show a commit to excellence, and do the best every time your number is called. It can inspire those around you, and one day, your contributions will get recognized on the greatest stage of them all.
On Saturday evening, Swin Cash took her place alongside the game’s immortals as she was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Alongside Cash, this year’s class was pretty star studded:
- Manu Ginobili
- Tim Hardaway
- Lindsey Whalen
- former Liberty assistant coach, Marianne Stanley
- George Karl
- Del Harris
- Lou Hudson
- Hugh Evans
Cash has been a winner everywhere she’s gone, and her grit and toughness have been hallmarks of her game since her days with the Connecticut Huskies. A member of the WNBA’s 20th and 25th anniversary teams, Cash’s game is certified and unimpeachable
She’s been the model of excellence and greatness since her days as a kid in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. PA State Senator and former McKeesport Mayor, Jim Brewster, made the trip to Springfield for Cash’s big night and spoke about what made her so astounding
“Everywhere she goes she sets goals, competes and achieves. She’s a role model for kids who want to succeed at anything, not just sports. She comes from a great family and those of us who watched her play through the years were not surprised that she has reached such heights in the world of basketball and beyond.”
Cash’s final WNBA team, the New York Liberty, showed some love on her big day as well
She retired as a member of the Liberty in 2016 and was honored with a ceremony in her final professional game.
While with the Liberty in her final season, she was one of the team leaders that protested the slate of shootings in the United States. Cash and the Liberty veterans covered fines for the younger players and helped push the WNBA league office to support their players as they spoke on important causes. That spirit of advocacy and empowerment is still with the Liberty organization to this day.
At her pre Hall of Fame news conference in Connecticut on Friday, Cash spoke about her time with the Liberty and said:
“I have to give a shout out to the organization of New York for understanding the importance that the New York Liberty, the role they played not only on the court but in our society and our community. I think how we embraced the social responsibility, how we were able to have those conversations about basketball and transcending the game and inclusiveness, that all started and really mumbled up to the surface with me being in New York.”
Cash’s time with the Liberty helped lead her into the next stage of her basketball journey. She worked as a Director of Franchise Development with the Liberty for a few years before joining the New Orleans Pelicans as a Vice President of Basketball Operations and Team Development in 2019. In her role, she wears many hats as she works on the business side, player relations side, scouting side, etc.
That looks like everything. Our culture, people use it and sometimes it’s one of those catchy, cliché words. But it’s just literally how you do business. How do we do business here in New Orleans? How do we take care of our players? How do we take care of our staff? When people come here, what are their expectations that are set? Is this department or that department operating in lockstep with the other one? Being a part of other winning organizations has helped me see how things kind of operate together. Being here and being able to apply different strategies, being able to streamline things, that’s what you look for. How we do business is how we create culture.”
That culture has extended beyond her role as she has helped open the door for former W players like Teresa Weatherspoon and Ashja Jones to work in the NBA. As the WNBA continues to grow, having legends like Cash carrying the torch is only the beginning.
Cash’s Hall of Fame speech was one of the highlights of the festivities. In her speech, she shouted out current Liberty CEO, Keia Clarke, Liberty legend and fellow Hall of Famer, Teresa Weatherspoon, as well as former Liberty GM Isiah Thomas and her coach on the Liberty and Detroit Shock, Bill Laimbeer. She talked about the UConn mantra of playing hard, playing smart, and having fun, and how she was able to use that as she went through her career. She closed with this breathtaking passage, which we’ll quote in full:
“Playing the game was intoxicating. Competing was like breathing. To love this game you have to be obsessed with the process of achieving your goals. To love this game, you have to overcome your fear and outwork other’s expectations of you. Celebrate your wins, make corrections on your losses, and grind every game like it’s your last. This I know: As a Black woman, sometimes we have to hold back our confidence out of fear of being labeled “intimidating.” But as a young Black woman, I was taught to straighten my crown, enter a room with my head held high (Thanks, Mom!), confident in who I was and whose I was. Not because I’m a diva or better than, but because it’s a statement that I feel worthy in my own skin and my body. Because it’s my body... let me repeat that again, because it’s MY body. Because it’s my body and I won’t be boxed in.
And this I know: that this game was a sanctuary from the world that tried to box us in. This game was a vehicle, an outlet to a higher education, exposure to bigger pictures, a platform of more than just performances. Our pulpit is the playing field. Our podium professed by Ali, Gibson, and our late OG, the great Bill Russell. This I know: It’s not just a game. It’s a gift, God given. Not demanding sacrifice, but demanding sacrifice, hard work, dedication. A gift, even through the challenges. A gift even through the dark rabbit holes of regret, through set backs and injuries. A gift of a past generation that struggled to get us here, and now we’re here. And this I know: I’m sitting amongst the greatest in this room, humbled to be on this stage, and hopeful for the next generation of ballers, with the skillset to take this game to the next level, and the social responsibility to bring this whole world along with them.
Hopefully, hopefully these young girls see pathways I didn’t see. Pull from the game what I couldn’t, and then pour back into the game more than I have. Yet, proud of the dues that have been paid by female athletes patiently waiting for America to pay some damn attention. But in the meantime, this I know: I’m far from perfect. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, and I’m sure I’ll make some more. But whatever the future holds, I’ll embrace it the same way I embraced the game: unapologetically, the way God called me to be. And the whole time I’ll know, giving my all was required gift to the game, and the game was forever a gift to me. God bless.”
Salute to an astounding woman.