Cappie Pondexter

Meet the New York Liberty's turnaround point guard

June 15, 2012: 11:46 AM ET

Point guard Cappie Pondexter discusses how she's building her own brand while working to raise her team's game.

FORTUNE -- Cappie Pondexter was the last to leave the court after a summer practice in the Greenburgh, N.Y. gym the New York Liberty shares with the Knicks. Pondexter typically stays after her teammates have left -- she's a franchise player in the WNBA, which means that teams bring her on to turn their seasons around.

Three years ago, the Liberty traded for Pondexter, who left the championship-winning Phoenix Mercury. So far in 2012, the Liberty have won three out of nine regular-season games. Pondexter has averaged about 20 points per-game.

The 5'9" guard grew up in Chicago, went to school at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has played abroad in Europe, and signed on with the WNBA in 2006. She's earned numerous accolades during her basketball career, including a Gold Medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Now, the heat is on to whip the Liberty into shape. Last year, the team lost to the Indiana Fever in the first round of the WNBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Also in 2011, Pondexter had to face her fans after she tweeted an offensive comment related to the tsunami in Japan. She's learned some hard lessons about leadership, she says, and is getting into the business world, starting her own image consulting company.

She spoke to Fortune about how she's building her personal brand while trying to turn the Liberty into a championship-caliber team.

Fortune: What does it feel like to know that so much of the success of a team depends you?

Cappie Pondexter: I think the coach does a great job of helping everybody recognize that we all have a part and that it's not about me.

But I like pressure, I kind of rise in those moments. I like last-second shots or close situations. I tend to think better. A lot of people are afraid to fail, but for me, when I risk failure, it takes me to a higher level. And I have a high level of faith, not only in myself but also in God. He's definitely allowed me to take those moments and be the best I can be.

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You helped lead your previous team to the championships. If you take the Liberty to the top, will you feel the need to turn another team around?

Hell no. That's too much work. I want to retire here. I love New York. It's a great city. It's me: adventurous. More

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