By Charles Hallman
One of this year’s WNBA “A” free agents, Taj McWilliams-Franklin says, “A lot of teams expressed interest in my services,” but ultimately she signed with Minnesota. The Lynx signed McWilliams-Franklin, a six-time all-star and 12-year veteran, on February 18. She began her professional career in 1996 and played three seasons in the American Basketball League, then joined the WNBA in 1999 with Orlando (now Connecticut). McWilliams-Franklin also has played in Los Angeles, Washington, Detroit (now Tulsa) and last season with New York.
The 6’-2” forward-center currently ranks second among active players in rebounds, seventh in made field goals, steals and blocked shots, and 10th in points. As with most WNBA players, McWilliams-Franklin is now playing overseas — her Spartak Moscow team last week advanced to the EuroLeague semifinals, which begin April 8. She had eight points and 10 rebounds in the clinching quarterfinals win.
Speaking by phone from Moscow, McWilliams-Franklin recently told the MSR that a cousin who now lives in Minneapolis has spoken highly of the area. “She’s a lawyer and she raves about it — always has,” says the veteran player.
When asked of her family’s reaction to moving to the Twin Cities, “The little one [her young daughter] can’t figure out why the Minneapolis area is called the Twin Cities. She’s still trying to look for the twin,” claims McWilliams-Franklin. “My husband, of course, was involved in our decision-making process [to sign with Minnesota]. We’re pretty excited because we’ve never lived in that part of the world.” Other than visiting the Mall of America and the immediate area surrounding the Lynx’s downtown Minneapolis arena, McWilliams-Franklin disclosed that she hasn’t seen much of the Cities.
“I am not a typical WNBA player,” admits McWilliams-Franklin. “After shoot-around, I don’t sleep for six hours. I want to do stuff. I want to see stuff. I love museums, architecture, just going and seeing the sights and being a part of whichever city I’m playing in. “I can’t wait to explore and see all the sights, hang out. We love water, the lakes, just everything about it. For my daughter more than me, it’s more exciting because I get to show her more things than in San Antonio, where she’s always stuck for eight months out of the year.”
McWilliams-Franklin joins a Lynx club, which begins its 13th season in June, that historically have been one of the youngest, if not the youngest, teams in the league. Can her veteran presence be the right addition to finally move the team forward? “I just hope to bring a measure of experience on and off the court,” she responds. “I think it’s more about bringing the intangibles that I always have brought — being in the right position on the court, saying something that needs to be said in the locker room, just all around. It’s what I do naturally. “I hope in Minnesota it will help bring us to the next level.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.