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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

CSKA's Secret American Weapons

Medina Dixon and Teresa Weatherspoon are starters for the CSKA women's basketball squad, and other Russian league teams and their fans have never seen anything like them. Particularly on the road, the Americans have to deal with serious competition -- and scrutiny.


"Other teams always play CSKA extra hard, and now it's the team with the Americans, so they really step up," says Weatherspoon, 28, the charismatic point guard from eastern Texas. "People watch the way we walk, how we move, talk and eat. But I understand. We're different."


Dixon and Weatherspoon have been playing basketball for CSKA since the beginning of this season. For them, coming here was simply a question of economics. Since the United States does not have a professional women's league, female players have to sign on with teams in Europe and Asia. Before coming to Moscow, Dixon played in Japan for seven years, and Weatherspoon spent five seasons in Italy. Last year their agents suggested Moscow, and they said, "Why not?"


The roommates have proven tougher than their male compatriots, Tony Turner and Chuck Evans, who began the season with the Spartak basketball club. After the first road trip, to Yekaterinburg and Samara, Turner and Evans packed up and went home. Turner has since come back and suits up regularly for Spartak, but Evans chose not to return.


The two live in a three-room apartment near the CSKA sports complex on Leningradsky Prospekt. They do not go out much, except to train, and every day a Russian woman comes to prepare food. The roommates get along fine, and are happy, although Dixon says the weather sometimes gets her down.


"In America I am constantly on the move," she says, "so it is kind of nice here. After practice I just come home, listen to music and relax."


Both players have a rich basketball history, which culminated with spots on the 1992 U.S. Olympic team that won the silver medal in Barcelona. Weatherspoon attended Louisiana Tech, a perennial college hoops power. Dixon went to Old Dominion after playing high school ball in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she graduated with Patrick Ewing, now the all-star center for the New York Knicks. They are still friends.


That Dixon and Weatherspoon find themselves in Moscow now is more than a little bit ironic. The American women lost to the Unified Team in the 1992 gold medal game, but even more odd is the fact that some of the Russian women who were on the winning side now play for CSKA. Svetlana Antipova, a shooting guard, is one of them.


"I could not believe it," she recalls, but says they are "good for our game. Without them, we would still be good, but with them, we are by far the best."


In fact, Alexander Vasin, CSKA's assistant coach, says the Americans have become team leaders. They even help the coaches from time to time.


"I am trying to teach an American style of play," Vasin says, "and actually Teresa and Medina can show the fine points better than I can."


Dixon's business savvy was fine-tuned in Japan, and after this year she plans to return to America to tend to business -- she has money in real estate and stocks. Weatherspoon is not so sure, although she is leaning toward another season at CSKA. Playing in Russia, she considers herself a pioneer. "I love joking around with the girls," says Weatherspoon. "I love to see them laugh. My heart wants to stay here."





March 11 is the next home game at the Universaly Sportivny Zal, 39A Leningradsky Prospekt. For ticket info, call 273-7979.