Exclusive Q&A: Basketball Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie dishes on Tim Duncan, Rio, her future
Basketball legend Lisa Leslie, a four-time Olympic gold medal winner who was recently announced as one of the 20 greatest players ever by the WNBA, will be attending the 2016 ESPYS to recognize USC's accomplishments on stage during the show.
The Trojan women wrapped up their season with 96 points in the Capital One Cup race, on the strength of national championships in water polo and beach volleyball, along with top-10 rankings in six sports.
At this year's ESPYS, the winning men's and women's athletics programs will be honored on stage. Stanford and USC will be awarded the Capital One Cup trophy and a combined $400,000 in student-athlete scholarships. You can follow the upcoming race for the 2016-17 Capital One Cup by visiting CapitalOneCup.com and following @CapitalOne on Facebook and Twitter.
Ahead of the event, Lisa hung out with AOL Sports and discussed the Cup, Tim Duncan's legacy, what its like to be in the Olympics and what her future may (or may not) hold.
Q: In your mind, why is the Capital One Cup so much fun to track, and how exciting has it been to be a part of it?
A: It's kind of two-fold. One thing is this is all about bragging rights, where you can see which college really is the best across the board. But this benefits the schools and the student-athletes. Richard Sherman will be joining me to honor the schools, we're giving $400,000 in scholarships and I'm excited. USC, we did it (laughs). The Spartans won national beach volleyball and water polo championships and six of the teams finished in top 10, so it's pretty nice. Overall, though, this is not just about the athletes or the schools; it's about the fans.
Q: Was it ever in your wildest dreams, even when you were a student-athlete at USC, that you'd be a Basketball Hall of Famer?
A: Interestingly enough, I've always been setting short-term goals. The long-term ones were within five years, so, no, I never thought about the Hall of Fame. I don't know. I just never thought about it. I didn't realize the process, with you having to wait five years and everything, but overall I'm very blessed and very lucky to have made it in the first time with such an amazing class. I'm honored. It's really cool.
Q: In the wake of the big news this week, what are your thoughts on Tim Duncan's legacy and did you ever get the chance to pick his brain and vice versa?
A: I think Tim Duncan, the Big Fundamental, is so fundamentally sound and I had the amazing opportunity to talk with him and ask him stuff. I remember asking, 'How do you make your bank shot?'. I love learning. He has an amazing demeanor. I always admired that about him, and his ability to be calm. He was a 7-footer and he was so humble. I'm a huge fan, mostly because he was never boisterous, and he was just great. He was to be admired, for sure.
Q: As a four-time gold medalist, what advice would you give to a first-time Olympian?
A: The interesting part about being at the Olympics and being an Olympian is, I say, you have to stay in routine. You have to try and conserve energy. Everybody has a different approach, but I was very regimented. I felt like I wasn't even at the Olympics. You have to zone in. You have to think about how hard you worked to get there, but then, next thing you know, you could turn your attention to other things. You just have to stay laser-focused.
Q: Would you ever consider coaching in the future?
A: You should never say never in lie. At this time, though, I don't see it. I really enjoy broadcasting. I love being in studio, working with CBS Sports Network, on TV, podcasts, the journalist side of it. I'm really enjoying all of that. I know the game, I teach the game, but I feel that's not my calling now.