As of this edition, it’s been 187 days since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police in her own apartment, and no one yet has been arrested. This has been the WNBA players’ season-long focus as they advocate for systemic change in this country.
The first “Wubble” post-season in WNBA history begins this week in Florida. Minnesota finished fourth and is scheduled to play Thursday (opponent TBD) in one of two second-round elimination games.
Rather than the typical playoff preview that might be found in PWM (primarily White media run by White males), we instead look back at some of the accomplishments of the Wubble summer of 2020:
The Lynx’s Sylvia Fowles, before she got hurt and missed 13 games with a calf injury, became the league’s all-time rebounder.
Former teammate Seimone Augustus, now with Los Angeles, became the 10th player in W history to score 6,000 points. The 14-year veteran earlier this season told the MSR, when asked about her legacy that includes four championships, “I just put the body of work together whether it’s on the court or off the court. I think everyone else [who] decides your legacy is based on their idea or whatever.”
The New York Liberty only won two games this season as one of the WNBA’s youngest clubs. Former Gopher and Liberty center Amanda Zahui B had a career year in 2020, setting career highs in points, rebounds, assists, made threes—first among centers and forwards in threes—and three-point shooting percentage. She finished third in rebounds and set a single-game defensive rebound record (21) this year as well.
It was a trying season for the 6’-5” veteran, who also worried about her parents, separated due to the virus but later reunited. “My parents are doing well,” said Zahui B to the MSR during a Zoom conference last week.
“I’m going home [to Sweden] and spend some time with my family” after the season, she added. “Then I’m going to Russia [for her off-season play] hopefully, but it is still up in the air because of COVID.”
Her former Gopher teammate, Lynx guard Rachel Banham, last Saturday had her best night as a pro with a 29-point effort in a win over Indiana, her first start in two years and first in a Minnesota uniform. “I knew I was feeling pretty good after I hit those first two threes,” she told reporters including the MSR after the game. She hit 7 of 8 three-pointers that tied a franchise record for threes made in a game.
Banham also broke Maya Moore’s single-season club record for three-point accuracy (.453 in 2013) with a .472 mark (25-for-53) this season.
We earlier asked Minnesota Coach Cheryl Reeve if Banham seemed more comfortable playing her last five games. “Her ability to space the floor, making shots or not, gives us the space we need,” Reeve said. “Her passing is one reason we feel we need to have her on the floor. Rachel has been someone we’ve kind of given a bigger role off the bench.”
“I love passing the ball,” said Banham, a skill oft-overlooked due to her scoring prowess. She had a career-high 10 assists against Indiana. “I’ve figured out where I fit. My family told me to be aggressive. I tried to stay in that mind-set lately.”
Minnesota, supposedly in rebuilding mode, overcame injuries to key players and a late-season swoon to finish fourth. Last Saturday’s win was the Lynx’s 232 victory since 2011, breaking its own WNBA record for most wins in a 10-year span (231).
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.