WNBA All-Star weekend is a chance for most of the league’s players and coaches to catch their breath and relax for a few days. The players selected as All-Stars don’t have that same luxury. However, they do get an opportunity to have fun and showcase their talent as some of the league’s very best players.
Enjoying the All Star atmosphere
This year, the Minnesota Lynx sent three of their players to the All-Star game for a WNBA record seventh time. While none of them were voted in as starters, Sylvia Fowles and Odyssey Sims were named as reserves by the league’s coaches and rookie Napheesa Collier was named as a replacement player for the injured A’ja Wilson. This was Fowles’ sixth All-Star selection of her career, while this year marked the first selections for both Sims and Collier.
Despite not being initially selected for the All-Star game, Collier did finish fourth in fan voting. She explained that the selection felt like a credit to her game.
“It’s amazing. The fan votes—it was amazing to see all that support, especially being my first year in the league. I just felt so honored that they picked me to do that and that they liked my game enough to try to vote me here,” said the 6th overall pick in this year’s draft. “And like I said, I just felt really honored that I was thought of again to come in as an injury reserve and I’m just going to go out there and try my best and have some fun.”
After getting traded to Minnesota this offseason, Odyssey Sims has had one of the best seasons of her career and helped keep the team in playoff position. Sims was especially excited about being selected as an All-Star for the first time in her career. But she also knows the work never stops.
“It’s a fun trip. But like I said, at the same time I definitely have getting back to work next week [to think about]. But I’m definitely excited to play in the All-Star game tomorrow,” explained Sims.
Unlike her teammates who were experiencing their first All-Star weekend, Fowles was somewhat more laid-back about the weekend’s proceedings.
“When you’re here for the first time, you just like ‘Everything is amazing.’ You’re excited about everything. You want to do everything and you don’t want to be late to anything.” Fowles explained. “Once you get [further on] in years, you be like, ‘Oh, I might be a little bit late. I don’t know, I don’t want to do this function.’ But I’ve been being good. I’ve been showing up, and we’ve been showing out.”
Fowles’ advice to her teammates? “Just have fun. I mean, of course we’re here to showcase our talent, but at the same time not get too sidetracked while we’re here. And of course I want them to do well.”
Fowles then joked, “Odyssey said she’s taking my minutes tomorrow so I might be limited on the floor.”
Lynx in the Skills Competition
Sims and Collier also participated in the Skills Challenge, a head-to-head competition in which players make their way through an obstacle course requiring them to dribble, pass, and shoot. This marked the return of this event for the first time since 2006, when their teammate Seimone Augustus won as a rookie.
Asked before their team practice if she and Sims had engaged in any trash talk about the competition, Collier replied, “Not yet. I haven’t seen her a lot actually. We’ve both been so busy I’ve only seen her on the bus ride over here and that’s almost it. So I’m sure when it gets closer we might start that a little bit.”
Unfortunately, Sims and Collier did not get to face off against each other in the Skills Challenge as they both were bested in their first round matchups.
The All-Star Game itself
As for the actual game, all three Lynx players played for Team Wilson and came away with a 129-126 victory in a very entertaining exhibition. Fowles had 12 points and 9 rebounds, Sims put up 10 points and 2 assists, and Collier snagged 4 points and 2 rebounds. Other non-Lynx highlights included Erica Wheeler’s All-Star MVP performance, a handful of Brittney Griner dunks, and the occasional possession with Liz Cambage playing point guard.
“It felt good. That was one of our goals—for everyone to score. So they were doing a good job trying to give me the ball. I think I was the only one who didn’t [have any points] and then I missed my first layup,” Collier laughed after the game. “But it was really fun.”
Collier said her favorite part of the weekend was “probably being here [at the All-Star game] today. The game was fun.” She added that her favorite moment in the game was “probably when Erica Wheeler got MVP. I was really happy for her.”
Fowles particularly enjoyed the camaraderie between the All-Stars over the weekend and during the game.
“Just getting everybody involved and making sure everybody was happy, everybody was comfortable, which they were. Just soaking up those moments because we’re always competing against each other. We don’t ever really have a chance to be on the same team. So enjoying the moment, embracing the moment.”
On her teammates performances, Fowles said, “I think they did well. Phee was kind of nervous throughout the whole thing, but once she calmed down she was back to normal Phee.”
Back to the grind
With the All-Star festivities over, it’s back to the grind for the final push of the regular season. Fortunately for the Lynx, they have more rest time compared to other teams. They will not play their first game until a week after the All-Star game, tomorrow night in Indiana.
“I think this time will be really good for us,” said Collier. “We have a couple days before our game, too. So just kind of figuring out a way to push through for forty minutes. I think we have been going through ups and downs, but things are mostly really good for us.”
Asked if she intended to take time to rest after the busy weekend, Fowles replied, “I definitely will get rest. I don’t know when everybody else leave but I’m leaving real early tomorrow. But I have family and friends here, so give me a couple hours to sit down with them and soak up some good energy. But it’s time to get back to work. All-Star is over.”