While school may be ending soon for many, it is just beginning for Brittney Griner as she starts her WNBA career.
The classroom: the practice court at US Airways Center.
The teacher: the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“Man, I went to ‘Legends School’ today and it was awesome,” Griner said Wednesday. “(He was) giving me the little technical parts of the sky hook and (telling) me to work on it. I am not going to say master it, I mean he’s the master of that, but be the young apprentice maybe and have that in my arsenal, that would open up my game a lot.”
Abdul-Jabbar was invited by the Mercury to attend practice Wednesday. Afterwards, he addressed the team and then worked one-on-one with Griner.
“She’s a very talented athlete,” he said. “She’s not just tall. She has some skills. She runs the court very well. She’s agile. I think she’s going to have a great career.”
Abdul-Jabbar perfected the sky hook, a shot that helped him win six NBA Championships and a record six MVP awards.
“I think she did start to get it, how I used (that shot),” he said. “Not everybody uses the same tool in the same way. I think, given her potential and her willingness to learn, she’ll do well.”
The two only spent about 10 minutes together, but it was time well spent according to Griner.
“I learned just how to hold the ball, really,” she said. “I was holding the ball wrong in my hand. The way I was doing it I was kind of like toss-throwing-layup-ish-hook shot I was doing, I wasn’t really holding it the right way to have full control of the ball. I just picked up that up right there in, what, a couple of minutes right there?”
Abdul-Jabbar said he’s willing to continue to work with Griner, but nothing has been scheduled past his visit Wednesday.
Griner, meanwhile, is anxious to use what she learned from the hall of fame center once the season gets underway.
“You’ll see some hooks, but a true skyhook, that’s going to take a while for me to get down, perfect,” she said. “You’ll definitely see it once I get a feel to the game. I definitely want to throw that in there, real soon.”
By the way, the student did have one thing over the teacher.
“Yes, I have him beat on shoe size: 17 men. He wears a 16,” Griner said smiling. “His hands are bigger though.”