Sometimes greatness is defined by scarcity, and Sky veteran Cappie Pondexter finds herself in good company. Cappie finished the game Friday, June 10 against the Indiana Fever, her 333rd career game, becoming just the seventh player in WNBA history to reach 6,000 career points. By reaching that mark in her eleventh season in the league, Pondexter will become the third fastest player to reach that mark trailing only fellow all-stars Diana Taurasi and Tamika Catchings. In celebration of this historic occasion, we take a look back at how Pondexter got where she is today.
Cappie Pondexter was born in Oceanside, California but raised in the Windy City. By ten years old, she was engaging in spirited games of one-on-one against her brother Ronald, and knew she wanted to pursue a career in basketball. By High School, she had the WNBA logo and motivational words “The Future,” tattooed on her right bicep, a tall order, but one that has paid off in spades. Pondexter was a four-year starter at John Marshall High School in Chicago, the same school as Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverely, and Hoop Dreams subject Arthur Agee. Pondexter, was selected as the 2001 Illinois Player of the Year by Gatorade and USA Today, and became the first player in the state to twice be named Illinois’ Miss Basketball (2000 and 2001).
Cappie Pondexter: The College Years
After a heavy recruiting period, Pondexter landed at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she left a lasting impression: being named Big East Rookie of the Year in 2003, the Big East Player of the Year in 2006, and leading the Scarlet Knights to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments. Pondexter left school: second on the school’s all-time leading scorers list at 2,211 trailing only the great Sue Wicks’ (2,655 points from 1984-88).
Pondexter: The Pro
Cappie’s journey towards 6,000 started when she was picked by the Phoenix Mercury with the 2nd overall pick of the 2006 draft. Pondexter made an immediate impression on the league averaging 19.5 points on her way to the All-WNBA and All-Rookie teams. Pondexter played a crucial role for a championship Mercury team, during her sophomore season, averaging 22 points per game during the playoffs on her way to the 2007 WNBA Finals MVP honors. Pondexter increased her scoring average by four points in 2008, and followed that season up with yet another All-Star appearance as she helped the Mercury claim another title during the 2009 season. Pondexter found herself headed back out east when she was traded to the New York Liberty in March 2010. Cappie finished her four-year Mercury career with two championships rings, three all-star appearances, and 2,483 points. And as the league found out when she got to the Big Apple, the best was yet to come.
Pondexter helped the Liberty to a 22-11 record during her debut 2010 season with the club, a 9-win turnaround from the previous season. The guard led her squad to a hard-fought Eastern Conference Finals loss against future Sky teammate Erika De Souza and the Atlanta Dream. For the year, Pondexter averaged career bests in points (21.2), and rebounds (4.5) per game, and hit career bests from both the field (48%) and long-range (43%). The Liberty would make the playoffs for the next two consecutive seasons, before stumbling during the last two years of Pondexter’s tenure with the team. All told Cappie’s five-year stint in New York brought three more All-Star appearances, and 2,970 points. In February 2015, Pondexter received another call about a change of scenery: this time she was coming home.
The Sky went 21-13 during the 2015 season, averaging a league-best 82.9 points per game, and making the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals on the backs of strong play from Elena Delle Donne, Courtney Vandersloot, and Cappie Pondexter. During the 2015 campaign, Pondexter earned the 7th All-Star appearance of her career, averaged 15 points per game on 44% shooting.
Now early on, Pondexter’s 2016 crusade, is shaping up to be one of her best. As of this writing, Pondexter is averaging 12.7 points, 2.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 26.2 minutes per game. Pondexter is shooting a
career-best 45.5% from three, and is shooting an identical percentage from the field. Pondexter remains a vocal leader both on-and-off the court, and remains a key contributor for Sky team expected to challenge for the 2016 WNBA title.
Cappie: As a Whole
Cappie Pondexter’s career statistics are a laundry list of basketball dominance, beyond 6,000 points she stands on the verge of history in multiple other categories. Pondexter is 38th all-time in WNBA career games played, 13th all-time in 3-pt field goals made , 5th all-time in field goals made, 16h all-time in minutes played, 9th all-time in career 2-pt field goals, 8th all-time in free throws, 39th all-time in career steals and 11th all-time in career assists. Pondexter is just 1 assist away from passing Dawn Staley (1,337) for 10th all-time in Career assists, and 2 away from passing Teresa Weatherspoon for 9th.
Looking at those numbers in a vacuum, it’s easy to forget how she got here. Those one-on-ones with her brother, the countless hours in the gym, the relentless training it takes to get your body into the kind of shape that can log over 10,0000 career minutes, and still let her travel overseas to test her skills against international competition every off-season. When Cappie Pondexter took the court at the Bankerslife Fieldhouse on Friday night, she accomplished something very special, but really, she’s been accomplishing something very special ever since she picked up a basketball.