Celebrating Swin Cash

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This article is written by Tiffany Salmon.

I often think about women in sports and what it takes to excel in their field while also being a friend, a supporter, a patron, a sister, and of course, in many cases, a mother.

No matter the profession or class, playing all of those roles offers both fulfillment and stress. It’s not easy being something for everyone. And in 2019, with 24/7 news coverage of our favorite celebrities, balancing responsibilities as a female athlete seems more challenging than ever before.

Growing up, all we knew about basketball players, men or women, was how many points they scored, or if their team could count on them for a defensive stop at the end of a tight game. Now, we have seemingly unlimited access, learning about who our favorite players are as people off the court.

When I think of someone who sets an amazing example as both a female athlete and role model, I think of Swin Cash. Swin has ingrained herself in the New York basketball scene over the last five years, which has helped me become not only a fan of her game, but also a fan of her as a person.

Tuning into MSG Networks on Knicks game nights, I always look forward to watching the pre and post game shows. Beginning during the Melo era, I’ve enjoyed  the on-air team which has comprised of Alan Hahn, Wally Szczerbiak, Al Trautwig and Bill Pidto.

Around 2015, with the exit of Tina Cervasio, I was worried we had lost a strong female presence on the telecast. Soon that would change when the brilliant Rebecca Haarlow was bought on board to replace Tina as the live in-game reporter, and later when Swin Cash was hired to bring her basketball expertise to the pre, post, and halftime telecast.

Knicks fans who are meeting Swin for the first time through her presence on MSG have quickly learned that she has a keen eye for breaking down Knicks games on a highly basis, but might not know how much of a beast she was on the court, herself. For all the NBA players she reports on for MSG, Cash’s basketball resume most likely trumps theirs ten times over, and that isn’t an exaggeration.

Being a life long fan of the Lady Vols, I always looked up to Queens product Shemequa Holdsclaw, fell in love with soon-to-be Vol Candace Parker in high school, and, of course, Tennessee had the greatest college basketball coach ever (in my humble opinion), Pat Summit. So to put it lightly, growing up, Swin was a foe to my favorite college basketball team.

Anybody who knows women’s NCAA basketball, knows Tennessee vs. UConn was the ultimate rivalry during the 2000s. Because of this, I’ve always known Swin Cash because she always helped lead to heartbreak in me and many lady Vols fans hearts, alike.

After graduating from McKeesport Area High School in Pittsburgh, Cash was a WBCA All-American and netted a spot on the UConn Husckies 1998 team. During her UConn career, Swin continued to rack up the accolades: in 2000, she won the National Woman’s Division I Basketball Championship, needing to beat my Lady Vols on the way; she also led the 2002 Lady Huskies to an undefeated 39-0 season and another championship with the help pf Queens stand-out Sue Bird, and Diana Taurasi. Cash won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player that year.

In the WNBA Draft, in 2002, Swin was chosen 2nd overall by the Detroit Shock. Known for her rebounding and defense, her impact was almost immediately felt on the franchise. It took only one year for Cash to help the Shock win their first WNBA title in 2003. If you know about how competitive the early 2000s WNBA was, you know Swin and the Shock had to defeat some of the most prominent teams of those early 2000s. Becky Hammond and The New York Liberty and Tamika Catchings and Indiana Fever just to name a couple.

Under Bill Laimbeer, a coach whom she would play for again in the future, the Shock would go on to win three titles in six years. During that time she even helped stop a 3-peat attempt by the dominant Los Angeles Sparks in going against one of the most notable players in the sport and future basketball Hall of Famer, Lisa Leslie.

Beyond the WNBA, Swin also played in Russia during the off season for a year. After finding success with the Shock, she would move West to Seattle to play with the Storm where she joined forces with NYC basketball legend and former UConn teammate Sue Bird, along with Sheryl Swoopes and Lauren Jackson in 2008. That year, the Storm finished with their best record in franchise history at 22-12, but eventually lost to the Sparks in the Western Conference Semis.

Cash earned four WNBA All-Star appearances and also won All-Star MVP in 2009 and 2011 while playing for the Storm.

Along with her many accomplishments in the WNBA, Swin is a 2-time Olympic gold medalist, winning gold in 2004 and 2012 with the US Women’s basketball team.

After her run with the Storm, Swin played with the Chicago Sky and Atlanta Dream from 2012-2014. In her final stint in the WNBA, Swin signed with my beloved New York Liberty in 2014. As a fan of the team, I knew having her would make a great impact, and it did.

Being a fan of the Liberty in the summers of 2016 and 20017 reminded me of the old days, but this time I was able to attend some of the games. In those two seasons, the Liberty finished 1st in the East and earned playoff appearances in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2011-2012. In 2016, under the leadership of Swin’s former Detroit Shock coach, Bill Lambeer, the Liberty made it within one game of making the WNBA finals. I was there for that game, Tamika Catchings, a Lady Vols rival, and the Fever killed the Liberty down the stretch and New York lost a tough one. I will always give thanks to that series because as fan of the Knicks and Liberty I was able to experience playoff basketball in the Garden again for Games 1 + 3 during those Eastern Conference finals.

On June 7, 2016, Swin cash announced she was retiring at the end of the season. One year later, the New York Liberty named her Director of Franchise Development.

For all of her professional success and accolades, Swin is also a generous philanthropist for people in need. In May 2011, she was awarded with an honorary degree of Doctorate of Public Service from Washington and Jefferson College in honor of her charity work. She is also an activist against police brutality and gun violence. Swin, along with other WNBA players in 2016, wore #BlackLivesMatter warm-ups following the continued police brutality of young African American men and women across the United States.

Swin is the founder of Cash for Kids charity and holds basketball camps and clinics throughout the year. In the summer of 2017, Swin gave birth to her first child, a son, Saint, with husband Stave Canal.

Between Swin’s on-air appearances for MSG Networks, she also does analyst spots for Yahoo, ESPN, and CBS, as well as her own podcast, She’s Got Time.  While the sports profession, whether on-air or on the court, can be a tough job to juggle, Swin makes it look easy. She’s just another example of woman doing the work on the field, behind the screen and at home, too.

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