Alex Chambers has turned his summer vacation into a celebration of the WNBA. As part of his “13 Teams, 1 Journey” trip, Chambers is crisscrossing the country to watch a game in all 13 WNBA arenas. Stop number six brought him to Seattle and KeyArena for last night’s game against the Sacramento Monarchs. Chambers had a chance to interview Storm guard Sue Bird before the game and forward Lauren Jackson afterward. During the game, he was introduced and interviewed on StormVision at a timeout.
Before the game, StormTracker sat down with Chambers to chat about his journey so far.
How did this whole idea come about?
I’ve got friends who live in cities where there are WNBA teams, and I thought it would be kind of cool to go on a road trip and see games on other courts. It just kind of snowballed into this idea that I could visit every team. My thing is I’m a planning junkie – I love to plan big, intricate things. Following through with them is another story. It really gave me motivation to do this for a lot of months beforehand to do this. Then I got the idea of dedicating it to my friend Cyndee, who lost her battle to breast cancer last April. Every little bit it became a little more meaningful to me.
I’m really a big supporter of women’s basketball and the WNBA. If I can be a positive reflection of the league and show a couple of people that this is worth it, that the game more than entertaining and inspiring, great. Now that I’m in Seattle, you’ve got amazing players – Bird and LJ, of course. Swin Cash, who has just been a monster the last couple of games, especially in points. You’ve got some other good players – Pee Wee’s a veteran player, nice to see her. I’ve been fortunate to catch some really good games.
Did you anticipate this level of interest and publicity?
No, I did not. I was going to go to the games, I was going to blog and have a good time, meet some fans. That’s what I was planning of doing. A lot of people ask me questions like, ‘Do you work for the WNBA?’ I’m like, ‘No.’ ‘Are you making money off this trip?’ ‘No.’ I just started posting on Facebook and then the WNBA found me and said, ‘How can we help get the word out about your trip?’ They’ve given me media credentials and helped me talk to players. Getting to stand in the locker room and talk to Sue Bird for three minutes … I’m glad I’m getting it on video because then I can look back to see how amazing an experience it was. As a fan, to get to do that is a dream come true. I get a little short of breath every time LJ walks by.
What has been the highlight of the trip?
Just talking to the players – getting to interview Candace Parker and Katie Smith, Kara Lawson, talking to some of the best of the best in this league and just getting to talk to them on such a personal level. The highlight has been for me talking to these players and having them be so easy to talk to. Candace Parker – literally the superstar of the Los Angeles Sparks and, some would say, the WNBA – was the easiest person to talk to. Just so chill and relaxed and I wasn’t nervous at all – as nervous as I thought I’d be.
A couple of interesting experiences. The PR person for L.A. introduced me to the whole team by having me come into the locker room postgame before any media. I’m standing in front of Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson, DeLisha Milton-Jones … she turns to the entire team and says, ‘Hey, this is Alex. Alex, why don’t you tell them what you’re doing?’ My jaw was on the floor. Again, Candace Parker – I was trying to talk about what I was doing and Candace Parker is looking at me and she’s nodding, saying, ‘Oh yeah, that’s really cool,’ giving me some visual feedback. I don’t know that if she saw that I was kind of stumbling or was nervous – and I was really nervous. Sue Bird, sitting down with her, she was all smiles and nice to talk to, so approachable. It’s been great.
As a Mercury fan, is it tough to root for other Western Conference teams?
I have one policy: I root for the home team as long as my team wasn’t here. So the other night I was cheering on the Monarchs and they played really well. It was tough when I went to L.A. As you know, L.A. is a great team. You have legends like Lisa Lesie and Tina Thompson, new talent with Candace Parker, DeLisha Milton-Jones, gold medalists. You’ve got history there on that team. But my girls were there, and I’ve got to support my home team. I think other teams understand. These girls play against each other here and with each other in the offseason in Europe and Russia. I have learned a few things. When you walk into the L.A. Sparks’ locker room postgame, you don’t talk about your own team. If the mood is kind of somber postgame, I ask them about things that are not basketball-related. I usually do that. When I was talking to Sue Bird, I was asking her not basketball-related questions. I think it’s important to learn as I go. The first time at Detroit was kind of awkward. Atlanta was even a little more awkward because ESPN was there, it was a bit busy. San Antonio I got in my rhythm, then L.A. and Sacramento and now I’m here. It’s been good.