LEGENDS INTERVIEW: ARMINTIE HERRINGTON

November 9, 2015

NBRPA writer Jon Teitel has spent time talking with many of the greatest players in WNBA history and will share his interviews at LegendsofBasketball.com. Jon visited with Armintie Herrington about getting a triple-double and being named WNBA ROY.

Armintie Herrington is simply able to do things that regular people cannot do because she is such an amazing athlete. In high school she scored 51 PTS in a basketball state title game and was also a 15-time state champion in track. At the University of Mississippi she was an All-American and led the entire country in SPG. In the WNBA she was named ROY and made the playoffs for 7 straight years, and since she decided to retire this past September we wish her a happy and healthy future!
 

In 2003 you set a state tourney scoring record with 45 PTS in the semifinals before winning a Class 1A state basketball title at Myrtle High School: what did it mean to you to win a title? It meant a lot to me: I actually broke my own record by scoring 51 PTS in the finals. I knew that I had to give all I had so that all our hard work did not go to waste. It is in the record book forever and we will never forget it.

 In addition to basketball you were also a 15-time state track champion: which sport did you enjoy the most, and why did you end up choosing hoops over track at the University of Mississippi? I loved running: the long jump was also 1 of my favorites. I also did the hurdles…but never learned to jump them correctly! I wanted to focus my time on basketball, and practice was so grueling that at the time I did not think my body could take it if I had done them both. Looking back I wish that I could have done a couple of track events in college as well, but I decided to just do 1 thing at a time.

In December of 2006 you recorded the 2nd triple-double in school history with 34 PTS/15 REB/12 STL vs. Illinois: where does that rank among the best all-around games of your career? I was just at a speaking engagement at my alma mater and someone brought it up. I really wanted to win that game because it would help us in the rankings, and I was just feeling it that night. I got to a point where I was exhausted and came out of the game, and 1 of our assistants said that I was only a couple of STL away from our coach’s school record. I popped right up and said I wanted to go back in the game, and after the game we were all laughing about it. The triple-double was just an extra bonus, and looking back at it now I realize that I must have been pretty good to do something like that!

As a senior you were named All-American after leading your team with 18.1 PPG/4.8 APG: how did you balance your scoring with your passing? I am not sure: I just wanted to be a complete player rather than a selfish player who does too much. I had to find a way to get my teammates involved because I could not score all of the points myself, so I tried to make the correct pass and not be a 1-woman show.

How on earth did you end up with almost 1200 REB despite standing only 5’9”?! I think it was just the talent that God gave me in terms of running/jumping. I did not pick up a basketball until the 8th grade, and then picked up the competitive instinct and pushed my ability to be the best that I could.

You were a 2-time SEC DPOY, led the nation with 3.8 SPG in 2007, and your 403 STL remains the most in school history: what is the secret to being a great defender? I learned a lot from Coach Carol Ross, who wanted me to be great. She built my confidence so that I felt that I was the best player in the world. She taught me to never let my teammates down and just be the best, so I felt untouchable. If you build a player’s confidence, then they can prepare like a champion.

You were drafted #3 overall by Chicago in the 2007 WNBA Draft: did you see that as a validation of your college career, or the realization of a lifelong dream of reaching the pros, or other? It was a blessing and something that I had never dreamed of. My mom raised 5 kids and I was the 1st to go to college, so thank God it was free. I remember sitting at the table when they announced my name and my 1st words were, “Oh me oh my!” I could not believe it but was so grateful that Chicago recognized my talent.

You finished that season by being named WNBA ROY: how were you able to make such a smooth transition from college to the pros? My coach wanted to make sure I went in and played hard and was a winner. I played fearless and treated each practice as though I might get cut later that day. I played my hardest and gave it my all, but also made sure to have fun and enjoy the moment.

What are your memories of the 2010 WNBA Finals as a player for Atlanta (you lost the series 2-1 to Seattle with all 3 games being decided by 3 PTS or less)? I was nervous to play an awesome Seattle team with Lauren Jackson/Sue Bird: we had more talent but they were more seasoned. We made it to the Finals many times but just could not win a ring. When you think about the stars you watch in college and then end up playing with some of them as teammates in the pros, you have to erase the memories of them being almost like your enemies during college. The best part was the relationships I built with the players/coaches: I would not trade it for anything.

In September you announced your retirement: why did you decide to call it quits, and what do you hope to do in the future? When I came home after the All-Star break it was the 1st time that I missed my life/husband/family. I had to deal with some surgery last year and wanted to become more involved with my church, so after I returned to Washington I started to think about it and it hit me like never before. I played out the year but my heart was not 100% into it with the goal of being a champion. I gave my all for 9 seasons and accomplished a lot, but after fulfilling my purpose I wanted to stay healthy and find a job and feel great about myself. I do not know if coaching is in my future: I did it for a few years at my alma mater and liked it, but right now I enjoy my work as a TV/radio color analyst for the basketball team. It would be great to be a mentor to ladies to show them what lies ahead after basketball is over. Nothing is set in place for the future, but I am grateful to be back at Ole Miss.