As season winds down, many W players head overseas

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.

A year after the WNBA’s 20-year recognition, Edwige Lawson-Wade, who played five seasons (2005-10), recently admitted that somehow she got passed over for the countless celebratory reflections that took place last season.

“Nobody ever asked me,” Lawson-Wade revealed in a halftime interview at Minnesota’s last game at the St. Paul hockey arena September 1. She appeared in the 2008 league finals for San Antonio, who were Western Conference champions that summer.

“I think it [the league] got better,” she observed. “The players are stronger, faster, and just like in the NBA, you see the taller players shooting threes like a guard.”

Her career memories include a career six field goals made in 2009 against her husband James Wade’s current team, Minnesota, where he’s an assistant coach.

“I love basketball,” said Lawson-Wade, who has been playing pro ball since age 17. She played for four league clubs and was the starting point guard for the French national women’s basketball team that won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Edwige Lawson-Wade (Onika Nicole Craven)

Although her W career stats aren’t Hall of Fame-worthy, the 5’-6” French native nonetheless starred on her two-decade pro playing resume: three French titles, three FIBA World League crowns, three Euro League titles, two Russian championships, and a European championship for France.

Many WNBAers at this point are packing or have packed for their respective overseas off-season jobs. Women hoopsters don’t get an off-season. Some coaches don’t either.

Once the Minnesota Lynx season concludes, James Wade will be heading to Russia as an assistant coach. We asked Edwige if she had any travel or related concerns given the current world situation.

“I’ve been to Russia and played in Russia. I played with Diana [Taurasi]. Russia is a country that loves basketball. It’s a great opportunity. He [James] will be coaching Diana and Brittany Griner and some of the best players in the world. I’m excited for him,” she said proudly.

James, in a previous “In the W” piece this summer, told us that his wife is the basketball brains of the family. She confirmed this with a smile.

“I was a point guard, and that’s the coach on the floor. I love this game, and we talk, and I share my opinion on things.”

Finally, Lawson-Wade said that with the league’s existence, younger players now can see what they need to work on if they hope one day to play in the W. “I think overall the league is better than it was 10 years ago,” she said.

 

Honors a fatal distraction?

Both hosts Connecticut and New York were eliminated Sunday from the post-season. Was it coincidental that both clubs also were honored with league honors prior to their eventual defeats?

Connecticut Coach Curt Miller won coach of the year, and center Jonquel Jones won most improved player; New York’s Sugar Rodgers won her sixth woman of the year. All three participated in pre-game recognitions, either during a press conference (Miller and Jones) or on the court (Rodgers).

Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles last season took part in a pre-game press conference when she won defensive player of the year award. The host Lynx later that evening lost the first game of the finals.

Why not wait until the season is completely over or conduct such sessions on off-days? It seems that these honor-bestowing events are distracting, especially when the team is preparing for a win-or-go-home contest. This year it seemed like the kiss of death, or in the Sun’s and Liberty’s cases, the kiss of defeat.

 

 

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.