SI: Last year you said you couldn't imagine yourself coming back. What changed?
Cooper: I played some pickup ball in the Virgin Islands when I was doing a basketball camp last July, and it sparked something. It got the fire going again.
SI: You retired at the top of your game in 2000, after leading the Comets to a fourth consecutive title. Do you worry about tarnishing your legacy?
Cooper: No. I worry about being the type of player I was when I left.
SI: Can you be that player again?
Cooper: When I get back to 100 percent with my conditioning, I think I'll be exactly where I was when I left.
SI: When will we see an 18-year-old girl follow the LeBron James route and jump straight from high school to the WNBA?
Cooper: Maybe in the next five years.
SI: Have you ever played with your fellow Houston hoops star Yao Ming?
Cooper: No, but he did hold my daughter [10-month-old Cyan]. In his arms she seemed even smaller than she actually was.