Courtside with Rebecca Lobo
An unfiltered Q&A with WNBA players — past and present.
Hello and welcome to Courtside.
Take a break from the game. Pull up a chair. Settle in. Have some water. And relax.
As often as I can, I’ll be bringing you honest, revealing and fun Q&As with some of the greatest players in WNBA history as well as rookies, veterans and All-Stars in the league today.
Now and again, I’ll also be posting columns focusing on what’s happening in the WNBA or sharing my thoughts about basketball-related current events, issues, and/or players in the news cycle.
Now, let’s get to the conversation.
Rebecca Lobo, 48, is a former WNBA player and longtime broadcaster/color analyst for ESPN. She is one of the most recognizable names in women’s college basketball/WNBA history, having led the University of Connecticut to its first undefeated season (35-0) and national championship in 1995. In 1997, Lobo became one of three cornerstone players to sign with the WNBA for its inaugural season, including basketball greats Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes. She played for the New York Liberty for five seasons, then had one-year stints with the Houston Comets and Connecticut Sun before retiring in 2003.
“No one in all the years that I’ve been there, has had the impact on the court and off the court, that Rebecca has had and has continued both in the WNBA, as being one of the founders, both as a representative of our university, as a member of the board of trustees, continuing to promote the game on ESPN, and all the other things that Rebecca has done to further the role model that she is, for all the young people that looked up to her, emulated what she has always been, a great student, a great athlete, a great person, someone that I’ve cherished to have had the opportunity to work with, and to call my friend, and now to call my boss.”
— UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, during Lobo’s induction ceremony for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010
Since retiring from basketball, Lobo has been a constant fixture on ESPN for almost two decades. Her coverage of women’s basketball and the WNBA is a valuable asset for fans, players, coaches and teams at every level, and allows her to stay involved and connected to the game she loves.
Here’s a look back at Lobo’s incredible and impactful basketball journey:
In your opinion, what 2021 WNBA free agency move has been the biggest so far this offseason and what team looks the most dangerous right now?
I think the biggest move was (Candace) Parker to Chicago. Not only because she is a great player, but because Chicago had always been the place that stars wanted to leave (Sylvia Fowles, Elena Delle Donne). Signing Parker showed that the Sky was a desirable destination in free agency.
Most dangerous right now is (Las) Vegas, especially if (Liz) Cambage plays for them after the Olympic break. Chelsea Gray is one of the best late shotmakers in the history of the league. Gray was a huge get. And I can’t wait to see what Washington looks like this year, too. Elena Delle Donne, Tina Charles, Myisha Hines-Allen and LaToya Pringle will be fun to watch.
Looking at the way WNBA free agency is set up the way it is now, do you wish you had had the same opportunities to explore options when you were playing?
I was always in a good situation with the teams I was on, so no regrets on that front.
Did you always want to go into broadcasting after retiring from basketball or was there something else you thought of doing/pursuing as well?
I always wanted to go into TV. And starting a family was a huge priority as well. Because of the great bosses I had at ESPN, I was able to do both.
What do you love most about being a women’s college basketball/WNBA broadcaster?
I love watching basketball. I love talking about it. I enjoy getting to know the players and telling their stories. (No one tells their stories better than Holly Rowe, and I'm lucky to work with her on most of these games.) It’s really fun watching teams and dissecting what they do and then talking about it to the audience in a way that I hope they find understandable and interesting. And I couldn’t have a better crew to do it with than Ryan Ruocco and Holly. We have an absolute blast calling the games. It’s just fun.
What’s the most memorable game you’ve ever called at the college or pro level?
There’s a lot of memorable WNBA games:
The 2018 Seattle/Phoenix semifinal series was one of the best ever. Sue Bird’s Game Five performance was ridiculous.
2014 All-Star game.
Maya Moore Game Three winner over Indiana in 2015 Finals.
LA vs. Minnesota series in 2016 with Chelsea Gray and Nneka game-winners. Lots of great ones.
The 2018 Women’s Final Four may never be outdone. Two semifinal games that go into overtime and two game-winners by (Arike) Ogunbowale. Breathtaking.
What's the most memorable game you’ve ever played at the college or pro level?
College: 1995 NCAA title game.
Pro: First WNBA game in 1997 — NY at LA. Good guys won (smirk).
As the WNBA has evolved and become somewhat positionless, how has the game changed for centers over the years?
It’s interesting because big centers still thrive in the WNBA. (Brittney) Griner, Cambage, and Sylvia Fowles are certainly still considered some of the best bigs in the (league). But the last two champions had versatility on the front line (Breanna Stewart and EDD).
Kim Mulkey (at Baylor) continues to have success building teams around her bigs inside. The game is evolving, but there is still room for centers.
What’s something about you that people would be surprised to know or wouldn’t expect?
Hmmm. I didn’t start drinking coffee until three years ago. Holly Rowe introduced me to iced coffee (with a touch of vanilla) while we were covering a Lynx game. Now I have a cup every afternoon and sip on it when calling games. I made it through college and four children’s toddler-hood without having even a sip of coffee, but now enjoy the heck out of it.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Could be a song, movie, food, etc.?
Ice cream. I love ice cream. And colorful swedish fish.
When you were playing (in college and/or in the WNBA), did you have any pregame rituals or superstitions that you stuck to before every game?
Always got my right ankle taped before my left. Put my right sock and shoe on before the left. And in college, always had my teammate (Pam Webber) hook me up with a French braid before the game.
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