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'I Own Who I Am': The WNBA's Swin Cash on Posing Nude and Winning Gold

Swin Cash is a WNBA champion, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and an analyst for the Knicks. We recently caught up with the "unapologetically fearless" professional athlete to talk about her height, her nerves, her nudes.
Screengrab via YouTube

Swin Cash is six feet tall; that she plays professional basketball makes sense. At nearly 15 years in the league, Cash is a veteran of the Women's National Basketball Association—which, formed in 1996 as the female counterpart to the all-male National Basketball Association (NBA), is only 20 years old itself.

Cash—a forward for the New York Liberty—is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a three-time WNBA champion, a two-time NCAA champion (from her college days at the University of Connecticut). What I'm trying to say is: She's really good at sports. She also hosts sports-related programming on MSG networks. But, not knowing much about sports (except that they can employ rapey, misogynistic characters), during our recent interview, I mostly chatted with Cash about other things—like the nude pictures she took for ESPN: The Magazine ("Of course I was nervous!") and what it's like to have your wedding overshadow your Olympic gold medals in your Google results. Read the rest of our conversation below.


Photo via Flickr user Ronald Woan

BROADLY: Do people always tell you that you should play basketball because you're so tall?
Swin Cash: To be honest, maybe when I was younger I used to get that. "Do you play ball?" would be the first line that I [was asked]. But as I got older, people would ask, "Do you model?" "Do you do this?" "Do you do that?" I guess that's a testament to how I carry myself off the court, but yeah—I think I got it more when I was younger than I do now.

You have two Olympic gold medals, so congratulations on that. But I noticed that your first page of Google results highlights your recent marriage instead of your Olympic achievements—the "gold medals" bit is kind of buried. How do you feel about that?
Well, I guess my initial feeling would be congratulations to my husband; at least everyone knows I'm off the market. It's funny, because that was a big thing that happened in my life—even though it was something that was considered private. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory [of] playing professional basketball. There are a lot of stereotypes in regards to women and our sexuality and things of that sort. [Women] have to deal with that, [but] a lot of the men don't have to—[not] on a day-to-day basis. There are a lot of different issues [that come along with] being a professional athlete that we might have to deal with and face, but it's resilient women that can take on those challenges and those stereotypes and still kind of pay it forward and try to move the needle in the right direction.


Hey, it doesn't matter what your sexuality may be; we're about diversity and inclusion and playing sports.

Speaking of the stereotypes—especially in regards to the WNBA and female basketball players—do people ever make assumptions about your sexuality? Does "WNBA" have similar connotations as, say, "softball?"
I think there are stereotypes in the WNBA—but I think that we've done a good job saying, "Hey, it doesn't matter what your sexuality may be—we're about diversity and inclusion and playing sports." All women should have an opportunity to play and not be judged by their sexuality or the color of their skin and so forth.

I saw that you tweeted something about "unapologetically fearless" women. It reminded me of another phrase that's been cropping up recently: "unapologetically black." How do you feel about that?
Well, I think that if you look at me, you see that I'm black right away [laughs].

How do you feel about Black Lives Matter?
I think that what they are doing is a movement right now, and I think that any organization [or community]—whether it's Black Lives Matter, [or the] LGBT [community], [or] the Latino community [on] issues related to immigration—I think that if anyone is in a position to use their voice, they should. That's the only way you can really create change in our country.

I saw that you posed nude at one point, for ESPN: The Magazine's body issue—can you tell me a little bit about that?
Well, first, the magazine is one of those things where athletes—in a tasteful way, in a creative way—are able to show their strength and their body. I had gotten the opportunity to do that before, but I wasn't ready. This time, I talked to my mother, and she was very supportive, [saying] "You know who you are, and if this is something you want to do to show your strength—by all means, you have my support." My husband, who at the time was my fiancé, supported me as well. I think that it was something that I [was] happy to do—I look back at it, and it was tastefully done—and it's something that I know, years from now, if I have a daughter, she's going to look at and still be proud of mom. And hopefully I'll have the same body [laughs]!


Were there more women who did that campaign than men?
Actually, you'd be surprised. There were quite a few men who did it. If you go on Google, you'll see a lot of top athletes who have done ESPN's body issue. For athletes, it's one of those things where you celebrate the strength of your sport, your body, and what you have to do in order to get it to that point.

Were you nervous?
Of course I was nervous! I was holding onto my robe! We cleared out the room, so it [wasn't] like there's a million people in the room and you're just out there. They do it in a very tasteful and respectful way, for your comfort, and my comfort is really low so— [laughs]. It really challenged me to step out of my box and to find another level of resilience, another level of strength that I didn't know I had for myself.

I think that if anyone is in a position to use their voice, they should.

Were you airbrushed at all?
Girl, everybody's airbrushed, somewhere—probably. You know what? I look at it, and it was a representation—you can still see the scar on my knee from where I tore my ACL. I don't think that they were airbrushing too much on top of me.

**Broadly did an investigation and found that there are 44 NFL players who have been accused of physical or sexual assault. *What do you think of the rampant rape culture in professional sports?***
I can't speak on something that I don't have complete knowledge on—without being able to really read and look at it—but I know for me, from speaking on the show, in regards to rape, domestic violence, or anything else regarding women: I'm pro-women. I'm pro-advocate, so I totally support those women in any way, shape, and form.


Do you know anything about the Erin Andrews case?
I'd rather not comment on it, but I'm happy that Erin can actually move forward—hopefully—with this case being out of the way, and continue to speak out, and be able to help other women who may not have a voice or platform like her.

Where do you keep your gold medals?
You know what, I just moved—so they're in storage right now. They're in a box, somewhere, that I've got to dig out when I finish unpacking. But I can't believe that this year will be 15 years that I've been out of college and playing professionally. It's kind of amazing to think about all the accolades because you don't think about [them] when you're playing. Eventually, I'm sure I'll have time to reflect—when everything's said and done.

What would your DJ name be?
My friends call me Swizzy, so I guess I would go with that.

Swizzy—Swizz Beats—already exists!
Nah, nah. Before he was spinning wheels—I think I had Swizzy before him.

Are you reading anything right now?
Probably all the notes for the NCAA tournament that's coming up—I'll be doing some coverage with men's college basketball, so I'm just reading [that] and watching a lot of hoops right now.