This series will cover the WNBA’s 21st season with at least one story on the league weekly from the season’s May 13 opening to its closing on September 3 and through the 2017 playoffs.
He has only been away for a few months, but when Jim Peterson casually walked into the locker room after a recent game, the Minnesota Lynx players happily surrounded him like a long-lost father who had returned.
“I call him ‘Dad,’” exclaimed Sylvia Fowles. “Jim is the man.”
After seven seasons on the bench, Peterson, in the midst of his 15th season as a key member of the Minnesota Timberwolves television broadcast team, announced he was stepping down as the longest running Lynx assistant coach in franchise history. His various duties included working with the post players.
“It’s hard,” Peterson said of watching the Lynx players from the stands. On this particular night, he watched his former team from a courtside seat.
“He taught me some things that I do today,” continued Fowles, a MVP candidate. She got to know Peterson, or “Jim Pete” as he has affectionately been known over the years, during her first two seasons with Minnesota.
“I think Syl has a chance to be MVP and defensive player of the year,” Peterson surmised of the Lynx center who’s currently leading the W in shooting accuracy and steals, and second in scoring, rebounding and blocks. “She is having an incredible season, and it is a lot of fun to watch.”
Fowles told the MSR, “I was bummed” after she learned while in China that “Papa Pete” wasn’t going to be around this season. As expected, seeing him was a bit emotional: “It’s like a kid who hasn’t seen her dad in a long time,” she said.
“Just to see him here and giving that love and support, it brought back a lot of flashbacks. He’s good at what he does and I am happy he is still for us.”
“I’m doing great,” reported Peterson. “I’ve been to almost every home game so far. It’s hard sitting in the stands, because you know what’s going on. But at the same time I’m happy, like a proud papa.
“These are my kids,” he proudly pointed out.
Yes, she said it…
“Never give up… It doesn’t matter your height or the color of your skin,” stated Washington Guard Ivory Latta. The 5’-6”, 10-year veteran was told more times than she wants to count that she wouldn’t make it in the league after the old Detroit Shock drafted her in the first round in 2007.
Latta, a two-time All-Star, joined the Mystics in 2013. She set the Mystics’ all-time record in 2014 for shooting 81 three-pointers in a season, and last season she scored her 3,000th career point.
She’s now an author — Latta recently published a children’s book, Despite the Height, co-written with Charles R. Smith.
“It’s great being an author,” says Latta. “I’m very proud of the book I put out. You can be anything you want despite being small and not tall.
“I had a lot of battles, people doubting me, saying I wasn’t a real point guard, I wouldn’t make it this long.” Her general message is not just for kids, but everyone: “You are going to have a lot of people tell you you can’t be this or do that. But you can’t listen to them.”
Asked who kept her going during those naysaying times, Latta replied, “My parents. My parents always have been my inspiration. I love and appreciate them for that.”
Latta resisted the “I told you so” response. “The respect I’ve been getting for being in the league for 10 years, it’s great. Finally.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.