Basketball may be her passion, but Tangela Smith sees the horizon creeping closer.
The Mercury’s veteran forward said she’d like to play another two to five years, but with WNBA players’ incomes a fraction of their NBA brethren, Smith has dipped her hands into a variety of business ventures since she began playing professionally in Sacramento in 1998.
From business, to real estate, to a brief modeling stint, the 30-year-old isn’t waiting for her body to say “no more” for the next life phase to begin.
Smith did some print modeling in Sacramento but chose basketball over modeling as the full-time venture in her 20s.
“I always wanted to model growing up,” she said. “I liked basketball more. In three or five years I’d really be old for modeling.”
The 12th overall pick out of Iowa in the 1998 draft — one spot behind current Mercury teammate Olympia Scott — Smith became friends with then-Monarchs teammate Lady Grooms.
The friendship has endured, even after Grooms retired from the league in 2005 and Smith played overseas, as well as in Charlotte and now Phoenix.
Today, Smith and Grooms are co-owners of Studio 5027, a hair salon in Atlanta.
Smith wears No. 50 for the Mercury, Grooms wore No. 27.
Grooms owns the small building, and they rent out four salon stations to individuals.
Aspirations don’t stop there. Smith has a real estate license in her native Illinois. She spent three months taking classes, which delayed her playing in Europe last winter.
Though she’s dabbled in home buying and selling, her goal is to sell commercial real estate.
“Cappie (Pondexter) wants a house in Chicago,” Smith said, noting the two All-Stars share the same hometown.
Then there’s her goal of owning a Jamba Juice and obtaining a broker license — she needs another 75 hours of classes to obtain the latter — both of which she’d like to possess before she retires.
More winds of change could be blowing. Smith said she’s contemplating selling her share of the salon to her friend and opening her own place in Chicago.
“It’s going to be unique,” Smith said with a smile. “I can’t tell you any more yet.”
BONUS SHOTS: Mercury general manager Ann Meyers Drysdale was named a member of the inaugural International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame this week. Of the 20-member group, Meyers Drysdale is one of three Americans in the class, along with NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell and former North Carolina coach Dean Smith. She’s also one of four women to be inducted. The induction ceremony will take place in September in Madrid, Spain.