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.
One can only imagine the dinner conversations at the Wade house between the husband, a former college and pro basketball player, and the wife, a current pro point guard playing overseas.
“She’s a great basketball mind and always has been that way,” admits James Wade of his spouse, Edwige Lawson-Wade. “She makes me a better coach.”
James is the first Black male assistant coach with the Minnesota Lynx since Jim Lewis in 2006, when he and then-interim head coach Carolyn Jenkins comprised the first and only all-Black coaching staff in franchise history. Edwige is a French native who played for four WNBA clubs (2005-10) and for her country’s national team in the 2012 London Olympic Games. She is currently playing pro ball in Europe.
Wade is also the first Lynx coach whose spouse once played in the league. He is a dual France-U.S. citizen who also played pro ball in several countries 2001-2013 after graduating from Kennesaw State (1998), where he also played ball before going into coaching. He and Edwige are the parents of one son, James III.
When he retired as a player, being inactive was “one of the toughest things. You’re an ex-player and your wife is playing at the time,” recalled Wade. “You just try to be that support system. But at the same time, I followed her so much that you end up learning so much about the league and about its players. It’s a natural progression to start working in the league.”
This is his first season in Minnesota, hired over the off-season after two seasons with the San Antonio Stars under retired coach Dan Hughes. There, Ware started as a coaching intern (2012) and then was hired in 2013 as an assistant coach, where he coordinated the Stars’ defense and helped in individual player and team development, video breakdown and game planning.
But the opportunity to join the Lynx was a no-brainer, Wade told the MSR. “When you talk about the Minnesota Lynx, you talk about…the players that they have here. Those players have set winning as something concrete that they do every year.
“Being a young coach,” continued Wade, “you want the opportunity to work with a coaching staff and work with players that bring the best out of you. That was what really attracted me here.”
He was very well aware of Minnesota through game tape and coaching against them, but now, being on their side, eye-opening moments have taught him much more about Seimone Augustus and company.
“One thing — they are so talented that you would not think that they have to pay close attention to detail, and close attention to fundamental detail,” he explained. “Coaching players like Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore and Svlvia Fowles every day, you got to see those things first hand, how detail-oriented they are.
“For them to be that good, they don’t have to do that, but they do. That’s one thing that makes them so supremely talented. They stay on it and they stay consistent. That’s something I noticed right away,” admitted the Lynx assistant coach, whose role includes scouting, talent evaluation and player development.
According to her husband, the tables have turned for Edwige: “With me being here, she’s now the one who’s following us,” said Ward. “She supports us to the maximum.”
Yes, she said it…
“Lindsay is the head of our team. She is the head of the snake. We go as she goes,” said Seimone Augustus of her Lynx backcourt mate Lindsay Whalen.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.