Swin Cash: From championship glory to empowering the next generation

Updated: May. 10, 2023 at 9:01 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Pelicans’ Vice President of Basketball Operations and Team Development, Swin Cash, has left an indelible mark on the world of basketball. From her triumphant victories on the court to her relentless journey outside the game, Cash has become a champion and a role model.

“People talk about legacy a lot of times,” Cash says. “People think of the rings you won, the trophies you won. I believe the legacy is the people you touch, the people you’ve called up as Coach likes to say.”

Having tasted success at every level, Cash’s accolades speak for themselves. As a two-time NCAA champion at UCONN, a three-time WNBA champion over her illustrious 15-year career, and a proud recipient of two Olympic gold medals, Cash has etched her name in the annals of sports history. Her remarkable achievements were honored in 2022 when she was inducted into the prestigious Naismith Hall of Fame.

Swin Cash speaks during her enshrinement at the Basketball Hall of Fame, Saturday, Sept. 10,...
Swin Cash speaks during her enshrinement at the Basketball Hall of Fame, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Springfield, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)(Jessica Hill | AP)

Now, Cash finds herself on a new team, the New Orleans Pelicans, where she serves as the Vice President of Basketball Operations and Team Development.

“I think the one thing that I hope to add is just that winning edge in everything that we do,” Cash says. “Always trying to have this elite spirit and always wanting to be the best.”

With ambition in her heart and a hunger for yet another championship, Cash has seamlessly transitioned from her previous roles as a TV studio analyst and member of the New York Liberty’s front office. It was a call from David Griffin, the Pelicans’ Executive VP of Basketball Operations, that paved the way for this exciting chapter in her career.

“We start talking about me having the ability to potentially come here,” Cash says. “I asked my husband. He was like ‘Well you sit on TV and talk about these teams all the time and what you would do if you were in the front office, so why don’t you think about it?’ And here we are.”

Since her arrival, the Pelicans have undergone a transformation. New stars have emerged as the faces of the franchise, and a healthy team soared to the top of the Western Conference in December. Cash has been at the forefront of this remarkable journey, playing a pivotal role in the team’s pursuit of a championship. Her experience and expertise have been invaluable assets in shaping the Pelicans into a formidable force on the court.

New York Liberty’s Swin Cash during the first half of a WNBA basketball game, Thursday, June...
New York Liberty’s Swin Cash during the first half of a WNBA basketball game, Thursday, June 16, 2016, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)(Jessica Hill | AP)

“I hope that whenever people think back on my time here, that ‘look she came in and she was ten toes down about the city, about the organization, about the winning edge,’” Cash says.

Cash’s relentless pursuit of success mirrors her journey outside of basketball.

“To have a 15-year career, it’s not about tooting my own horn because I know I’m truly truly blessed, but it’s about the perseverance,” Cash says.

In 2007, amidst her WNBA career, she underwent an MRI due to persistent back pain.

“When I got an MRI to see if my L5 and S1, my disc was protruding, I got a call that I needed to come in,” Cash says. “I said, ‘OK what’s happening?’ They showed me that there was this little thing on the scan. Then I had to get a biopsy. The cyst I had was cancerous.”

The diagnosis was devastating: kidney cancer.

“Immediately all these things go through your head,” Cash says. “Like what? I’m 24. At the time, I was like 25 or 26. I’m fine. I feel good except for my back pain. So, then I started this journey for four years.”

Despite the immense personal challenge she faced, Cash chose to keep her battle private, sharing her struggle only with her closest family and friends.

“I couldn’t talk about it,” Cash says. “I couldn’t express how I was feeling. I couldn’t express what I was going through. I still was trying to figure out how to talk about it in a way, how to look in the mirror and see myself how I was.”

Undeterred, she continued playing in the WNBA, ultimately conquering cancer and securing one of her most significant victories in life.

United States women's basketball player Swin Cash, center, reacts after the medal ceremony at...
United States women's basketball player Swin Cash, center, reacts after the medal ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, in London. The U.S. won 86-50. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)(Julio Cortez | AP)

In 2013, Cash chose to shed light on her journey by penning her memoir, ‘Humble Journey,’ revealing her battle with cancer to the world.

“That was a really important thing for me to do,” Cash says. “To keep it private with just my close family and friends until I was able to really digest it in a way where God can use me to be able to speak in a way that would help other people.”

Today, Cash’s commitment to helping others lies at the core of her work. She dedicates herself to championing the young stars that grace the Pelicans’ roster, imparting wisdom and guidance to nurture their growth and development.

“I’m able to pull from a lot of life lessons that I had to go through, through injuries, and being able to relate and talk to and understand that when people need time, like don’t ask me any questions, just sit by me,” Cash says. “There are times when I walk up to a player, and I just hug them. I’m like ‘Okay I’m out.’ And they’re like ‘Wait what happened?’ You don’t have to say anything. I know. It’s good.”

Furthermore, she is deeply passionate about mentoring the next generation of women, empowering them to shatter glass ceilings and overcome barriers. It is this unwavering dedication to fostering positive change that led her to establish ‘She’s Got Time,’ a community initiative with a mission to empower women in sports.

“It’s important for women who have been around a little more, who are more seasoned, to make sure they are teaching the game to women in sports and how it works, and how to elevate themselves and sharing information,” Cash says. “That’s important so that everybody can have an equal playing field.”

Swin Cash’s legacy stretches far beyond her personal accomplishments. She aspires to be remembered as a driving force behind the dreams and achievements of others, a catalyst for positive transformation in the lives of those she touches.

“For me now the legacy is casting a wider net so that more women can be empowered and have the information, the resources to want to be in sports at every different level,” Cash says. “I want my legacy to be where people can say Swin made an impact, or she touched or Swin called up or Swin helped out. It’s less about me, and more about them.”

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