What an incredible room we have here.
Let's give it up for the Superbowl MVP.
You can't overcomplicate everything.
Sometimes, players just gotta make plays.
There are moments when you improv or even if it's something serious.
What did you improv in Black Panther?
With Kobe, and you knew him a bit, right?
Yeah. That day, I didn't want to play, but my mom, she was telling me to play for him and, uh, I hit a shot I thought I would never hit in my life.
Just felt like he was with me.
By the way, your butt looks great on camera.
Oh, thank you.
The following is a presentation of HBO Sports.
So just imagine...
Michael Jordan walks into the Boston Garden.
He puts 63 on the Larry Bird-led Celtics... and he gets hurt, and Michael Jordan's career is over.
We have just been teased for what we know is the formative stages of greatness.
How rare is greatness?
Sustained, exceptional, outside of anything you've ever seen before in your life.
--But Michael hurts himself after that 63, and we never hear or see from him again.
That's Cheryl Miller.
Cheryl Miller, just a freshman, perhaps the best female player ever.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Scope for today's NCAA women's basketball championship between the Lady Techsters of Louisiana Tech University and the University of Southern California Trojan women.
For Southern California, at forward a 6'2" freshman from Riverside, California, number 31, Cheryl Miller.
I remember being in my early teens, and I wanted to try out for the boys' team.
The coach wouldn't allow it.
He thought it was kind of interesting or cute.
"Well, if you can beat my son in a game of one-on-one, I'll, I'll put you on the team."
Well, I beat him one to 21, and he still wouldn't let me on the team.
Cheryl Miller will jump it against Janice Lawrence.
So part of the evolution of the women's game is the way you play the game, and Louisiana Tech played a very traditional style half-court.
And then when you have individual talents come along, like a Cheryl Miller...
Cheryl Miller, driving on Jennifer White, pulls up short...
...that just opens up a whole new realm of possibility.
USC in the gold, as Cheryl Miller hits...
That's probably the next evolution of college women's basketball.
So whatever was before, that's not gonna be good enough anymore.
Windham starts to break down the court.
Cheryl Miller, what a jumper. Got it!
Having these two teams clash together, it helped women's basketball.
I think these two teams pretty well know they're the best in college basketball.
This is for all the marbles...
When you look back on that USC team, my goodness.
Cynthia Cooper, the McGee twins, Cheryl Miller... that's a Hall of Fame lineup right there.
Our team was special, we were kind of a bridge-layer.
We laid the bridge for, for the league, for the WNBA to come behind us.
We set a standard.
Every time we stepped out on the court, we showcased a level of talent that everybody wanted to be a part of.
We did our part to give these kids an opportunity to pursue a dream of playing professional basketball.
...the Women of Troy to be number one in the country.
Before the season, they were number one, they dipped to number two...
The offensive player tries to tap to a player ready to shoot or pass in for a shot.
It was, at that time, the powers to be felt that our girls couldn't take the strenuous activity, going full court, up and down like the guys.
We started playing, it was half-court, and you could not cross the center line.
Hold the ball in both hands, pushing hand cupped beneath.
As you start to leap, raise the ball...
With men, they started to evolve on their own.
Women, it was up to everybody else how they could play the game, not them.
It just took time and persistence and our young girls showin' that, you know, we could play five-on-five.
...the final game at the AIAW 1973 national tournament.
I grew up in an area outside Philadelphia where Immaculata College was really the dynasty in women's basketball.
You can hear the crowd.
Boy, are they wild. And Immaculata...
I'm not even sure if anybody, outside the Philadelphia area in the beginning, knew who Immaculata was, and then all of a sudden... pew, they became pretty famous.
I think people were like, "Why doesn't it have traction? What is missing?"
Women's tennis was nothing until that ridiculous publicity stunt with Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King got put on national television.
The feminist thing, uh, how important is that, Billie?
The women's movement is important to me.
The women's movement is really making a better life for more people other than just women.
The male is king and the male is supreme.
I've said it over and over again, I still feel that way.
Girls play a nice game of tennis for girls, but when they get out there on a court with a man, they're gonna be in big trouble.
And then all of a sudden, she won that match.
Crazy right? She was a world-class player and he was a has-been, but somehow that resonated in our country, and that vaulted women's tennis into where they are today... one of the few sports that really does have some, uh, some juice, if you will, compared to the men.
Well, anytime anything is televised, that's when you've made it, and the key is to stay on television... to earn that spot and to keep it.
And right now, a live basketball game, a women's basketball game, a new sport in the Olympics.
It's between the United States and Canada.
In '76, I'd been on the very first women's, uh, Olympic team.
That was the first year that they had basketball in the Olympics for women, and we won silver.
Annie was pretty unbelievable.
I think she's almost four years older than me.
And I remember going to my first try-out camp, and I asked somebody, I said like, "Who's the best player here?"
And they said, "Her," and "her" was Ann Meyers. She was unbelievable.
At UCLA, Ann Meyers was named to the all-America basketball team four straight years, the only woman so honored.
But when she signed a contract with the Indiana Pacers of the NBA last week, some called it a publicity stunt.
Among most players and veteran observers, the consensus is that Meyers, dwarfed and outweighed by up to 100 pounds, is a publicity gimmick.
I know the media was very harsh.
As much as it was a circus to them, uh, it certainly wasn't to me.
And while she's probably the best female basketball player in the world, here, that's not good enough.
I had heard that the great players played at Rucker Park.
I was about 12 years old, and I had put T-shirts in my jacket, so I would look bigger on the train.
I walked into Rucker Park and some guy came over to me and he goes, "Little girl, are you lost?" I said, "No, are you?"
And the guy goes, "You sure you know where you are?"
I said, "Yeah. I'm sorry, is your name Rucker?"
And he said, "No." I said, "Good. It ain't your park."
I remember going out to the park that happened to be next-door to my house, and dreaming, for the longest time, of being Kyle Macy.
In the corner, Kyle Macy, and he hits again.
It's Doris Sable, from Manasquan.
She'll start tonight. Number 11.
I'd play out an entire game in my head, whatever you'd see on TV, but I was always a guy, until I saw Nancy Lieberman, who was at Old Dominion at the time.
It was the first time an athletic scholarship came into my mind, because I heard the announcer say, "These women are on scholarship."
It blew my mind.
I had had over a hundred scholarship offers, which I needed, because I was that poor kid who had to get an education.
Of all college sports, none is growing more rapidly than women's basketball, a game of high scores and high drama.
I think a lot of things changed, but the most significant thing was Title IX.
And of course, most people think Title IX was an athletic thing, it wasn't.
It was for equal education.
It's called Title IX, the law which cuts off federal funding to educational institutions that discriminate against women and minority.
To me, the reason why it took so long for Title IX to actually kick in was simply that there weren't enough people that were willing to take a chance and challenge them to enforce it.
It was one year ago in Eugene, Oregon, that Louisiana Tech celebrated their first women's national championship by beating the University of Tennessee.
Louisiana Tech, they were the school that you thought, well, they've really got it figured out.
Opening tip-off for the first-ever women's NCAA women's championship game controlled by Louisiana Tech.
Then you see Louisiana Tech, and every year, like a well-oiled machine, man.
They were legendary.
There was a brand associated with Louisiana Tech back then.
They had Sonja Hogg, this very Southern, big, blond hair dynamo on the sideline.
We started our program at Louisiana Tech.
We were the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
We all know that a female dog is called a bitch.
But I just didn't want, uh, "bitch" to be along with, "Here come Coach Hogg and all her little 'hoo-hoo.'"
I said, "Okay. We're gonna be called the Lady Techsters."
If there's one thing you associated with Louisiana Tech back then, it was the unique style of the uniform.
When you think basketball uniform, you think no sleeve.
You think freedom of movement, so you can get the ball into your shooting pocket.
Not the Lady Techsters.
I wanted sleeves in those uniforms for reasons we probably both know... with bra straps hangin', and break... you know, all of that.
And, and so I just thought that was very appropriate.
Kim Mulkey who can really run the attack despite the fact she's only 5'4".
She was a great high school player and a great scorer.
You just wanted to represent your school in a way that, um... was classy.
She brought a whole different dimension.
She averaged, uh, over her high school career, 38 points a game.
We, as student athletes, would never have probably been at Louisiana Tech if not for Sonja Hogg recruiting us.
The lady could sell ice to an Eskimo.
That'll do it. First-ever NCAA women national champions... the Lady Techsters from Louisiana Tech.
Auriemma; Normally, you'd have guards that can handle the ball, or you'd have, like, a win player, you know, 5'11", six-foot, you know.
Or you got a big post player, you know, back then, you know, post 'em up.
Louisiana Tech was great at this.
L... Tennessee was great at that.
Get those post players, bury 'em in the lane, throw it in there, and just bully you and beat you.
And then Cheryl came along, and it was...
This kid's, like, as big as Louisiana Tech's post players, and she's faster than all your guards, and she plays at the rim.
So it was something that was unique to the game at that time.
32-to-16 ball game. Twenty-one for Miller.
She picks it off. This will be no contest.
I wasn't just a showboat.
I was very good at being a showboat.
You just can't say enough about Cheryl Miller.
I am really impressed. And there she is again.
She's the most sought-after high school girl athlete ever, as letters from a couple of hundred colleges prove.
But I love the attention. Keep writing.
Her family has installed a special phone for calls from recruiters.
When I turned 11, that's when everything broke loose.
It was my brothers and I against the neighborhood, and it was, you know, it just started from there.
Between all of us, Cheryl and I are the closest in age, so we were always together.
Which means we were always paired together, either on the same team, but most of the time, going against one another.
My relationship with Reggie... he was my best friend, growing up.
We're just a year apart.
Those one-on-one games, they were a learning curve for myself, because she was predominantly the victor, and I was the one that was getting the beat-down.
Iron sharpens iron, and that's what we really did for each other.
Man, she was... She was a bad motherfucker.
Imagine a basketball game in which the final score is 179 to 15, and the highest scorer got 105 points.
It was unbelievable, until last night in Riverside, California.
The game broke eight national and state records, and the winning team's best player is a 17-year-old girl with a great slam dunk.
When I was being recruited, the two biggest reasons that I decided to go to USC were Pam and Paula McGee.
Good shot, Pam.
You know, she, she verballed to UCLA, and we went over and spent the night at her house.
Come on, come on. You got it. You got it.
And we basically told her, I said, "Cheryl Miller, "I'm gonna just keep it real with you.
"You will be probably Parade All-American.
"You'll be the number one player in the country.
You'll never win a championship, "'cause you gotta come through us.
"We're number two in the country, baby.
We're trying to do something special."
And all of a sudden, I just felt, like, something itching... inching in on me.
And before I knew it, I was sitting like this, and I'm looking at both at Pam and Paula, and they said, "Look. We got a proposition for you.
"You can play two years with us, or you play two years against us."
And she was like, "Well, you know, y'all two all-Americans and all that."
You know, how all of us gon' play together. I say, "I've been playing with her all my life.
"It might be your day on Monday, "Paula's game on Tuesday, my game on Wednesday.
We're trying to do something special."
I said, "Where do I sign?"
Some people said that, um, when you came to SC, that, um, that there wouldn't be enough basketballs.
Do you think there's any kind of animosities or problems with, um, the SC basketball team?
Well, no. Coach Sharp ordered some more balls, and, uh, there's enough to go around, so, there's no problem right there.
Cheryl was number 31, and Cheryl wanted number 31 when she came to USC, and I wore number 31.
I took my jersey off. Here, give this... Let's do this.
Having Cheryl Miller on our team, it was a really special time, because it was a new frontier for women's basketball.
Well, there was a lot of hoopla around Cheryl.
She was number one recruit.
She had scored over a hundred points in a game.
How awesome is she as a player?
Um, what's beyond awesome? You spell women's basketball M-I-L-L-E-R.
There was always this friction-slash-competition, between Cheryl and I.
I think she had something to prove, and I definitely had a chip on my shoulder and felt like I had to prove, not just to her, but to everyone watching, hey, you know, I'm kind of talented, too.
They called this the kind of showtime from Hollywood.
And, you know, we didn't play that kind of Southern, Southern basketball where you just keep pounding in the, in the paint.
We would run.
We, you know, liked to consider ourselves the baddest girls breathing at that time.
I'm thinking, wait a minute.
6'3", 6'3", 6'2", Cynthia Cooper... we got a squad.
Let's do this.
We'd walk into a gym, and these girls didn't look like us at all.
Now, those of us that were from what we'd just say, the streets, look at each other.
Pure competition, every single day.
You know, almost to the point where the games were easier than the practices.
Cheryl was just one of the most competitive people I've ever seen in my life.
She's diving under the table.
We're like, "Cheryl, this is practice."
I only knew how to play one way.
No blood, no foul, get up, shut up.
If you ain't bleeding, you don't have a foul, whatever it is.
You take that, and you get a collective group of women who understand that concept...
Look, if we put some gun powder, nitro glycerin, gasoline together, it's about to blow up. Let's go to work.
Meeting the McGee twins, first I was like, "Y'all big."
They are two different individuals all the way.
I tried to get her to take my calculus test, she wouldn't do it.
Paula was a little more rational than Pam.
Pam was like, out there a little bit.
If she knows my social security number...
One side is glam girl, showtime.
She was like, "No, Pam. I'll get up there, and I'll probably forget and write my social security number."
The other side is studious, you know, focused.
Again, you notice the difference in the personalities.
But, man, when they fought, hoo-hoo!
You didn't wanna be in the middle of it.
Cynthia and Cheryl?
We'll let them tell that story.
-Oh, my gosh. -Coop was like, you know, she had a mouth on her.
And she did a lot of this, and I did a lot of that, and she was better at that.
I don't know. They was just mad or something.
You know, they was in one of their moments.
"I'm Cynthia Cooper, da-da-da."
Started rapping or something.
I'm like, "Man, can... Do you ever shut up?"
-I said, "Cheryl!" -The final game for the region.
"What is wrong with you? That's Cynthia Cooper."
-From Watts. -"She's from Watts!
I wouldn't even fight Cynthia Cooper."
"I don't care. I don't care," and Cooper's just staring at me.
I said, "Well, I don't care right now, but later, I might care."
There was definitely some friction, but there's nothing better than playing with the most talented and gifted player ever to play women's basketball.
Cheryl Miller on the drive.
Nobody does it better.
Maybe that's why we butted heads.
We were... We were more similar than we gave ourselves credit for.
The great thing about coming from the inner city is that you're not afraid of anyone.
SC opened up a whole new world for me.
Well, it was a constant tug-of-war for me, like I was a, a fish out of water, and like, this was absolutely not the place that I was supposed to be.
I just really longed for someone that understood me, someone that knew where I'd come from.
The letters from Ricky were special.
They, they were... They were my bro, helping his lil' sis through this tough time.
I was very, very close with Ricky.
And for that person to say I could do it... Oh, okay.
Well, okay, I can actually do it, because he knows where I came from.
My childhood was tough.
It's tough as a kid to not know you're gonna have a place to lay your head.
We didn't know sometimes where our next meal was coming from.
I used to play pickup with Ricky on the blacktops at Locke High School, because we were too poor to, to go places, and, and enjoy stuff outside of Watts.
Where will the Wizard's skills be next year?
The Wizard's skills will be at USC.
I think that there was an issue with being black at USC.
African-Americans outside of USC looked at us a little bit differently.
We were not only fighting issues of gender, we were also dealing with issues of race as well.
And, some of our alumni would say, "Oh, but you're different.
Oh no, you're different." I said, "No."
There was a kind of idea that the African-Americans in this community were different than those of us who were SC.
We were just as black as they were, we just had a different experience.
And we just were aware we had to carry ourselves a little bit differently.
So the perception of us looked different, but it wasn't.
We were just as black as they were.
We just were in an environment that, that was extremely new to us as well.
But the beauty of all of that, when you don't have something, you hungry, we knew how to hustle, and we, we hustled.
And we knew how to, you know, okay, let's just get down and do what we have to do, we went to work.
It was a magical time.
We were either ranked number one in the country or number two.
We would, you know, go back and forth between us and Louisiana Tech.
by number 31, Cheryl Miller.
Gettin' a win on the road was, was tough in some of the places that we played in.
I always took 'em to places so they could learn from it.
They could compete at a high level.
That would prepare us for the NCA tournaments.
And so I would play a tough schedule.
So we had our first big road trip.
We were gonna play Louisiana Tech and then Tennessee.
You know, who does that to some freshmen?
The Lady Techsters built an arena and they invited us in to play that game.
And you have this announcer...
And, again, I'm a city girl, we're down South.
So he has the Southern drawl, and he's like, "And here they come.
Your Lady Techsters."
I'm thinking, there's no way we're getting out of here alive.
If you went to Ruston, Louisiana, for a women's basketball game, the stadium was packed, they were loud as hell, they were intimidating.
And winning in that kind of environment, forget about it. Tough. Tough to do.
Well, we proceeded to get beat.
It felt so good, so good ruining their party.
And we were walking out, and I'm, you know, blowing kisses to the crowd being booed and everything else, and... you know, just to rub a little salt in the wound.
But, um, that was outstanding.
Now we have what everybody wants, everybody thirsts for, in their sport: a rivalry, and not just any rivalry, a hated rivalry.
They didn't like each other.
The players didn't like each other.
The coaches, depending on which day, liked each other, didn't like each other.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Scope for today's NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. between the Lady Techsters of Louisiana Tech University, and the University of Southern California Trojan women.
So will we have a new national champion, the Women of Troy?
Or will it be the establishment, as Louisiana Tech goes for its third in a row.
I understood what we had to do in order to get that fan support.
We had to win championships to get that fan support.
You don't just get it because you're a popular team or 'cause you guys are pretty.
No, you get it because you win.
If they don't win, they're... they're a sidenote in history.
Before the tip-off, Cheryl Miller, number 31, kind of looked over at me, kind of like, put her hand to her heart, like she was really nervous before this game.
You could tell on that tip.
Miller's first shot is blocked...
I think a lot of people don't realize when you get into the championship game, which was USC's first championship, that there's a lot of nerves.
Well, as you said, both teams have had a tendency to get...
USC turning the ball over right there.
I think they're a little bit nervous in this game right now...
USC just really, they couldn't get into it.
They missed a lot of shots.
Uh, Louisiana Tech, they'd been there.
Mulkey on the drive. There she is and off to Rodman.
White gets it down quickly to Lori Scott.
White hits another one.
Tech has been virtually flawless here in the first half.
Four seconds left in the half.
Cheryl Miller. Ball is on the floor. There's the horn, ending the first half of play.
A half of frustration for USC.
I was nervous. I think we all were.
So we come in at halftime, and Coach Sharp comes in, calm.
And then she goes, "We're gonna do something.
We're gonna do one thing and it's gonna turn the game around."
And she goes, "We're gonna press."
When she said, "press," and we all knew what that... you know, do our thing. Go.
Cheryl Miller driving on Jennifer White. Pulls up short.
I was in Norfolk, Virginia.
It was my first-ever women's Final Four.
My only women's Final Four, I might add.
And I didn't know much about USC, because I was from New England.
You weren't reading about them in the paper.
You weren't watching them on television.
And I went to Norfolk, Virginia, and I went into that gym, and I watched Cheryl Miller play basketball, and I said, "This is unbelievable."
Fine pass underneath to Lawrence, as the shot blocked goes up again. Loose ball...
I had never really seen any women player take over a game like that.
Nice pass, and Cheryl Miller blocked it.
Picked it right out of the air.
However, Lori Scott blocked by Miller.
Cheryl Miller on the rebound.
White having a tough time getting it down court.
Offensive foul on Lori Scott.
There sure have been a lot of offensive fouls called in this game.
Just a freshman.
Perhaps the best best female player ever.
She is seven out of eight from the free-throw line.
Six baskets for 19 points, and the inbound pass is stolen, and a chance to trim it down to three.
Everybody said this would be a tight game.
It took a while, but it sure is.
Linda Sharp, the head coach at USC.
Getting to be nervous-time now with the national championship at stake.
Paula McGee... Yes!
Paula McGee with her seventh basket.
Fourteen points. Pressure by USC... And a steal by Paula McGee!
And I remember I hit a big shot in that game.
And everyone expected Cheryl Miller to take the shot or one of the McGee twins to take the shot.
But Coach Sharp called that play for me.
And USC has come back all the way and taken the lead.
Right now we're down to 30 seconds.
Southern Cal with a two-point lead.
69-67. They have the ball.
Inbounding it to Kathy Doyle.
Someone tapped the ball away from Kathy Doyle, and went on a fast break.
Inside of five seconds before they take that shot off.
Doyle has it stolen. Down to Mulkey.
Ten seconds left. Mulkey for the tie!
And we got the ball back. I'm jumping around, 'cause I'm like, "Forget the call. You took a charge!
Cynthia, you took a charge!"
It was so amazing, because I really felt, I felt closer to Cheryl then, than I had ever felt during my time at, at USC.
Tosses it out to Mulkey on the wing.
Cooper getting back.
Three-on-three situation. Mulkey taking it right in.
You know, Cheryl was a well-rounded player.
She played on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively.
And so, when she saw me do that, it really felt like I... I felt good.
I felt like I had earned Cheryl Miller's respect.
It's all over, and Southern Cal has won the national championship.
Cheryl, great way to start your college career.
I couldn't think of a better way. Fantastic.
It's... I don't know. I'm just so excited, I can hardly talk right now.
USC beats Louisiana Tech 69 to 67.
For Ann Meyers, this is Frank Glieber, returning you to Pat Summerall in New York.
Thank you very much, Frank, and congratulations to the Trojans. They have dethroned the defending champions.
Man, that was the best moment of my life.
The respect in women's basketball?
We took that.
We took it from Louisiana.
We took it from the East Coast.
We took it. Yes, we did.
So, to do that and now, okay, we the champions.
We the champions. We already had the attitudes.
In a good way. We already had that, that superior champion perspective that you need to have to, to do what we did.
And now we were, we were, we were national champions?
And we had the same team? Pfft.
Just after 5:30, the Trojans return home to a heroes' welcome.
The fans whooped it up as the USC band welcomed their champions home.
That's the '83 championship team.
Women of Troy. Yes.
Brought to you by... No.
Super sophomore Cheryl Miller needs no introduction.
Southern Cal's forward has created a sensation with her flamboyant style of play.
That team was great for the game.
It just elevated it, the awareness.
Cheryl, you know, was a mega-star, mega-player.
Oh, we were called "Hollywood." That was our name.
There was Showtime...
That was a spread-eagle rebound, down the middle to Green. He's there, he got it. He scores!
And it's Hollywood. That's what they would call us.
"Hey, Hollywood!" I'm like, we would all turn around. "Yeah?"
You know, but that... That was us.
This is what struck me so much about Cheryl Miller is she was unafraid to be unabashedly in your face good.
And she was from Los Angeles.
And, you know, was totally comfortable operating in the spotlight.
Do you know how unusual that was for a woman in that day and age to sort of embrace all eyes on me?
She's already got the attention that comes with celebrity.
I love it. - Why?
Well, it's... I kind of figure if you... you have to take it now, because someday it may not be there.
And all of a sudden, you know, people kind of are approaching you a little differently and... talking to you a little differently, and... oh, you're a celebrity now.
Here she is, having to be the face of a program, in a media market like LA, and changed the dynamic for women's basketball.
It just, it just... Can you imagine?
You know, now, now, now the heads can get bigger.
Now we already have some big heads, now the heads can get even bigger. It's amazing we can get in the gym.
But we wasn't gonna happen... It just really wasn't gonna happen.
And I think, if I'm not mistaken, that's 36 years ago.
If I'm not mistaken, we almost darn near went undefeated.
I remember about three o'clock in the morning, bamming on the door, bamming on the door.
And I open the door.
It's like, oh, your brother has, has been, um, like, he'd been hurt.
He was stabbed.
I was scared to death.
And I'll just never forget a few hours later, the doctor coming down the hallway, uh, telling us that they had done all they could, and that he was gone.
And I was heartbroken. I mean, my brother was gone.
The guy who told me that I could do it, um, he was, he was dead.
Like, there was... I couldn't talk to him anymore.
It was my first experience with death.
And also, my mom, she needed some money. She needed help.
Maybe I was right all along.
Maybe this isn't the place for me.
So she quit school.
Um, she went to work in a bank. Um...
She felt like that's what she had to do to get some money for her mom.
Linda says, "Okay, Fred. Go find her."
I went driving to her house.
Four or five guys jumped out in front of the car and says, "Hey, what are you doin' on our block?"
And I'm like, "Well, I'm, I'm here... I'm s... "
You know, I didn't even know my name at the time.
I was just shaking. But I said, um, "I'm here to look for my player Cynthia Cooper.
"She's, you know, I'm just trying to get her back in school.
I'm, you know, assistant coach at USC."
So the guys... One of the guys said, "Hey.
"Go see if, uh, Coop's mom's home. See if Coop's there.
If she ain't home, we're gonna have to take care of you."
And I'm like, "Oh, man." I'm sitting in the car, just shaking.
And then Mrs. Cobbs, at that time, was Coop's mom, says, "Oh, that's Coach Williams. Leave him alone! Let him go."
I was like, oh, my goodness. She just saved my life.
They had enough conviction, and they felt strongly enough, in me, and in my future, that they came and sat down and convinced me and my mom that the best choice for me was to get back into school, and get back into basketball.
And had they not done that, nothing else happens after that for me.
They were stuck by . Got it back!
Another circus shot. Cynthia Cooper.
Makes it a one-point game.
And I remember Coach Sharp saying, "Listen.
Basketball has always been your outlet."
She said, "Don't ruin it.
"Don't go on the court and bring what you...
What, what happened off the court, don't bring that on the court."
Eight-point lead for USC, which would match their biggest lead in the game.
Cynthia Cooper with a steal in the drive, and there's two.
Down to Sheila Collins. Ostrowski has the shot blocked on her by who else? Cheryl Miller.
Down to Miller.
One more time for Cheryl Miller.
She's doing it all now.
That does it.
The USC Women of Troy are the 1984 NCAA champions, as they beat the University of Tennessee 72 to 61...
...looked forward to this, to welcome you all to the White House. And, uh, I want to congratulate you on the magnificent season that you had.
You've not only won another title for the school, you've done a great deal, I think, for women's sports.
I didn't see it as a USC trip.
I saw it as a kid from Watts, going to the White House.
Who would have thought?
Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, we are in our final approach into Los Angeles, the home of the 1984 Summer Olympics.
It is here at the Forum, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, that the men's and women's basketball competition will be held for these 1984 Olympic games.
We won a national championship back-to-back in April. I graduated in May from USC.
Then Olympics was that year in LA, at the Los Angeles Forum.
So it was just a great year.
The picture is live. The moment is now.
Six o'clock on a summer Friday evening in Los Angeles, but a Friday like none other in the history of Southern California, because the picture is of the Olympic torch being carried through...
At 12 years old, we saw Lusia Harris in the Ebony magazine, and said, "Oh, wow.
"They have basketball in the Olympics.
We want to be the first twins to go the Olympics."
1984 Olympic team. Um...
What are your plans? You want to be on that team.
How about the twins? You think that you three can make it... all three of you can be on that team?
I see no reason why we can't.
I felt so bad for Paula.
So bad. Because there's no way in the world that she should have been left off that... of, uh, that Olympic team. No way.
Cheryl Miller has been an unquestioned star of this American team.
She has come in as a junior from University of Southern California.
I called her at one time, uh, a prototype, perhaps, of the next generation.
She was the face, in a lot of ways, not only of USC and the West Coast, she was the face for a period of time there, of women's basketball.
With the Soviet boycott, it would appear that your women would be favored.
I think so. I told our, our team immediately after the boycott announcement.
I thought it put us in a position to have to be able to, to be the Soviets, more or less, in the eyes of the opposition, and I think people will really be gunning for our basketball team.
We were good. We knew we were good.
I mean, if you looked up and down our lineup, and you're being coached by Pat Summitt, we didn't think about, um, it had never been done.
We knew we were gonna win it.
The game is over.
The United States women have won the gold medal in basketball.
First gold medal in Olympic basketball for US women.
Pam had the gold medal around her neck, and she tapped it and looked at me.
That moment that Pam put that medal around Paula's neck, it was so moving.
I felt that I wanted her to have a part of it.
She had been saying that, "I'm playing for my sister."
It wa... It was tough after the Olympics, because I'm coming off of two national championships, back-to-back, then winning a gold medal in my backyard.
Now what do I focus on?
Where... Where... What's my... What's my next goal?
It's over for a lot of us.
Uh, unless we go overseas to play, we'll never tie those tennis shoes again.
Well, imagine being the very best of the best at what you do.
You have something to offer people.
But there's no place for you to do the thing that you love.
You're looking at the premiere player in women's basketball, Cheryl Miller.
She's carried the banner of the sport for four years, a four-time all-American.
Today in her final appearance, seeking her third NCAA title in four years.
I always knew, and was always dreaming that there would be a women's professional league, but there was nothing... there was nothing in the mix.
Nothing in the making.
You don't have any options.
You can't get paid to do it.
Nobody wants to watch you do it anymore.
What do you do? Where do you go?
The hardest thing for me was watching all these great players, and you never saw 'em again, because their only option was to go overseas.
Might you be good enough to play in the NBA?
Well, you know, me and my brother, Reggie, he plays for UCLA right now, uh, we've had dreams about playing on the Lakers together when we were growing up, but as far as being competitive with the men on that kind of level, I don't know.
But what I hope to see is a woman's professional league.
Here she was, the very best of the best at what she did, and she's got no place to go.
I really... I can't imagine the devastation of that.
27 points ties the championship record, but probably be, uh, little comfort to Cynthia, with her team losing this ball game.
Cynthia played a strong...
As I'm leaving school, my eligibility is up. I'm about to... to get into the world, all right? I...
I find a, um, an agent.
And the agent is like, "You know what?
Maybe you could go to Mexico. Or maybe you can get a job... "
I was like, "No, I heard that the best basketball jobs are in Italy."
I played in Italy ten seasons.
I, I learned the language there.
All of this is from USC telling me what I could do.
From USC opening up the windows of the world to me, and saying, "Hey. You can do this."
We tried out with the Harlem Globetrotters.
You both are very attractive.
Do you think the wives and girlfriends of the Globetrotters are going to resent you being on the... -
-Well, I don't think so. -I don't think so.
And then I went overseas, and Pam was here doing some speaking for USC, and that sort of thing.
I was kind of burned out.
Then she saw how much money I made, and she was like... -And I said, "I'll be there."
After my senior year, and I'd finished, um, I decided to... get into a pick-up game with, uh, some football players.
And we had ran, like, nine games and everything.
I said, "I'm starting to get a little tired."
And I said, "I'm good, guys."
They're like, "No, come on, Cheryl. One more game."
And I remember the football player, he fell, and I had the ball, and I went to jump over him, and I landed, and I heard a pop.
And I said, "Oh, that doesn't feel right."
And so I went down to the training room, and, you know, I was limping, and they put me on the table, and she started moving my leg around, and then she kind of like, went, like, pale.
And I said, "What's wrong?" And she goes, she goes, uh, "I think you tore your ACL."
And I'm like, "What does that mean?"
And she goes, she goes, "I think your basketball career is over."
If it had happened ten years later, they'd do some quick surgery and she'd be back out there.
I'd have probably played overseas.
I probably would have gone and tried to, um, extend my career.
A force, a personality, a combination we had never, ever seen before, was done at 22.
It's sad, because she was never able to come back.
I mean, with all the technology, and people that have come back from ACLs, the fact that she's... she was never able to come back, and really play...
I don't know it if haunts her, but it haunts me, because I know how much she loves this game.
At 22, I was considered by, by everyone, you know, the greatest player in women's basketball.
Had everything going for me.
Until I got hurt.
Until I was robbed of a precious gift, that at times I took for granted.
But I remember that great feeling of loss.
And I remember feeling like a toothless lion... that's no longer at the top of the food chain.
I went to a storied college.
I went to the University of Tennessee.
And one thing I knew walking on the campus was the history of women's basketball.
I understood that Title IX was huge.
I understood how crucial and influential my coach was.
Pat Summitt. She's been here eight times.
The most wonderful thing happened for women's basketball.
And that was Pat Summitt, because she, she is, as far as I'm concerned, the gatekeeper of the game.
Pat and Candace sharing a smile.
It's extraordinary what Pat Summitt has done.
She's averaged 28 wins per year, over 30...
Years before, Coach Summitt was driving the bus.
She was washing the clothes, she was taping ankles.
She was a grad student when she was hired.
She got paid $50 a month.
And then when I stepped on foot, she was the highest paid coach at just over a million.
She just won. She just won, and won again, and won some more.
And then, of course, they just became this phenomenon.
Every game was sold out.
Pat Summitt was the biggest name in Tennessee sports.
Of any sport.
Pam Summitt is the preeminent coach in women's college basketball, and she just continues to add to her legacy.
And then, along comes this wisecracking, pain in the fanny guy from Yukon. right off the boat from Italy, Doesn't want to hear about Tennessee, or the Vols, or any of that stuff.
Just play me, and I'll show you what we got.
When I got the job, I said, "Look, guys, I don't know where we're gonna finish, but we're not finishing last."
Imagine that being the goal.
Like, every year, you guys finish last.
How is that possible?
39 and 0. Connecticut is perfect!
I was playing at a university where the athletic department was giving as much support to their women's basketball team as they were to their men's team.
Gampel Pavilion had just been built.
We had state-of-the-art facility.
Our locker rooms were as nice as the men's locker rooms.
If I was born five years before I was, that wouldn't have been the case, you know.
I'm a... I'm a Title IX baby.
So, we win a championship in '95.
The Olympics happen in '96.
And they happen to be in America, during Atlanta, and the whole country is like, "Wow. Look at all these guys. Da da da da da."
Guys that hadn't gotten a lot of attention, maybe, leading up to this, now it just, poof!
The 1996 women's Olympic team.
Because of them, and the exposure, and the way they played, it was a natural transition.
In basketball playground lingo, the phrase "we got next" means it's your turn to play when the current game is over.
Well, these days in professional basketball, it's women who are speaking up, and they've got an awful lot to say.
For David Stern to put the weight of the NBA behind it, it meant that finally, a women's basketball league was going to have staying power.
As they say in the ad, uh, it's about time.
To be able to coach the Phoenix Mercury in their inaugural season, it was awesome.
All right, let's go. Come on, now.
Execute, one, two, three... - Execute.
I placed a call, and I was like, "Hey, you know, I, I really want
"to play in the WNBA. My name is Cynthia Cooper.
I'm playing over in Italy."
And they're like, "Cynthia Cooper? You played for Parma?"
I was like, "Yeah. You know, I put together these stats, video..."
They were like, "We've been looking for you."
I am a woman, and a women's basketball, and basketball fan.
And those women completely dropped out of my consciousness.
They were in Europe. I didn't hear about 'em, I didn't read about 'em, I knew nothing about their exploits over in Europe.
Nothing. And here they come, back to the United States, on NBC, with Annie Meyers Drysdale, and Mike Breen calling the game.
Are you kidding me? This was paradise to me.
And now, the official tip-off of today's game.
The first-ever game for the women's NBA.
I didn't know anything about Cynthia Cooper when the league started, but I learned pretty quickly.
It goes around! See that.
Are you kidding me?
Cynthia Cooper took the league by storm in 1997 and became the MVP.
Cynthia Cooper doing it all!
And the chance of MVP.
MVP! MVP! MVP!
Who in the WNBA had more experience than Cynthia Cooper?
She had an old man's game, but it was brilliant. Nobody could stop her.
Coop, picked up by , drives right around her to the rack, lays it up and in.
Are you kidding me?
She had countermoves. Whatever you did, she, she had a countermove for everything.
She had step-through, she had the Euro game.
...on the baseline and she scores.
Cynthia Cooper, you're my hero.
I think, at 11 years old, was when the WNBA started.
I remember turning on the game, and Coop started raising the roof.
And it just caught on.
So my whole AAU team did that.
My dad was like, "If you raise the roof one more time, you know, you guys are gonna be sitting on the bench."
And after every play, that's all we did.
To the Houston Comets, congratulations!
You're the first-ever WNBA champions.
When I look back on Women of Troy, it's like we always say, the script was written for Cheryl to be the leading lady.
And because of injury, it didn't happen.
Nobody could have predicted that in 1997, it would be Cynthia Cooper who nobody really knew, she would just take the game over, and she would be the MVP and she would be the dominating player.
Cooper, out front from 17, perfect.
Absolutely perfect, and Cynthia Cooper is lovin' life right now.
Four-time champion, four-time MVP of the WNBA finals.
Does life get better than that?
And you're 34 years old.
Total dichotomy of what you would have thought would have happened.
I will tell you that growing up in an inner city, you don't have many dreams of being in a hall of fame.
I feel very fortunate to represent the WNBA, as the first WNBA player to be inducted.
Um, hopefully I'll represent you all well.
It's just shame that the world didn't get a chance to see Cheryl Miller play professional basketball.
Because Cheryl Miller is the best to ever play women's basketball.
What I learned most about having to go through that...
I didn't think I was gonna get emotional about this, but, yeah.
I learned there was more to Cheryl Miller than just basketball.
Joining me is Tony Parker.
And is this basically turnaround, fair play, because they got the better of you guys the last time.
What was the difference tonight?
Then I went into broadcasting.
Seventeen years with TNT.
Michael Jordan. Shaquille O'Neal.
Name a star.
To watch those men treat a woman with that level of respect, it can't help but have an impact moving forward, on an entire gender.
Here those men were, embracing a basketball person, but a basketball person who happened to be a woman, and treating her as an equal.
That is where society changes.
The whole evolution of women's basketball from, from when I started playing, to gaining the fans' support at USC, to gaining fans overseas, because that's the only opportunity we had to play... to play basketball, to then coming back and playing in the WNBA, that journey was amazing.
Now what is this line right here?
As the game evolved, what changed?
It was television coverage.
You went from back in our era, to one game, or one Final Four a year, to every night you could find a basketball game.
At Baylor University, we value women's basketball.
And as I challenge them every year, don't ever take it for granted.
Imagine if, uh, Cheryl Miller was on TV every night.
I think the biggest thing came out of that, was, uh, the younger generation, the younger crop of young girls, watching this, being inspired, um, to play at this level.
"Do I think I could do that? Do I think I could really do that?"
This is a great shot right there, because there's the future. Diana Taurasi.
...into the lane, leans into.
Basket and the foul!
We... We've got, in my opinion, the three greatest players ever assembled in one room tonight, in Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Cheryl Miller.
This is truly special.
Come on, what's going on with you? - Coach.
-I know. Eh, two and 0. -Coach. What?
-Two and 0. -How'd that happen?
I don't know. It wasn't the coach. -
It had nothing to do with coaching.
If... You're happy.
Finally. You know what? I can...
And you and I used to, you know, we'd talk about this all the time, I'm finally comfortable in my skin.
You know? I don't, I don't necessarily feel that I have to be, um, Cheryl Miller.
And the great thing is, the majority of the kids, they're like, "Where... When did you play?" -Right.
Just Google. Google!