NEW YORK — Cappie Pondexter knew it was time to retire from basketball and move on to other things.
The two-time WNBA champion announced her retirement earlier this week on Instagram and spoke with The Associated Press about her decision.
"I'm going all over the world, my mission is to help every individual, if you need help, I'm available," the 36-year-old said. "That's my mission in life, I have to complete that. I was put here to be bigger than just basketball. I understand that now and ready to take on the amazing things that will come from it."
Pondexter had a great basketball career, averaging 16.4 points, 3.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds over 13 years in the WNBA. She was drafted second by Phoenix in 2006 after starring at Rutgers. She averaged 23.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists in the 2007 WNBA Finals, when Phoenix beat Detroit in five games. The 5-foot-9 guard was big for the 2009 Mercury championship team when they beat the Fever in five games also.
"Obviously winning the two championships in Phoenix gave me the confidence I needed to be an elite pro," the 36-year-old said. "My fondest memory though would be taking New York to almost the WNBA Finals. Selling out MSG during the playoffs. The intensity with the fans, a sold out arena, playing in front of that. No one can take it that away from me."
She was traded to New York in 2010 and played with the Liberty for five seasons before getting traded to Chicago. Pondexter, who was honored as one of the 15 greatest players in WNBA history in 2011, was hoping to try and win one more championship when she signed with Los Angeles before last season. She was waived by the Sparks in the middle of the season before signing with the Indiana Fever.
She said she was working out this offseason trying to figure out where she might play this year. She narrowed it down to two teams, but after speaking with her agent decided it was time to retire.
"I have so many wonderful memories. I don't have any regrets. I was placed here to be bigger than basketball and help with a lot of things that I have to deal with my life," she said. "Patience, hard work, adversity, I needed those things to help me prepare to where I'm headed now. I needed that. My only thing is that I knew that I would never touch making a million dollars in the WNBA. But I guarantee my legacy will help a player reach a million dollars at one point in the WNBA."
Pondexter also played overseas in Russia and Turkey, where she won four Turkish League championships. She also helped the U.S. win a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"Cappie Pondexter is one of the greatest players and fiercest competitors in WNBA history," NBA Deputy Commissioner and COO Mark Tatum, who is serving as the WNBA's interim president, said in a statement Tuesday night. "She made her mark on the league with her vibrant personality and distinctive style, earning two WNBA championships and seven All-Star selections along the way. We expect more great things from her in whatever she does next and wish her nothing but the best."