in Hotlanta. Big crowd on hand as LA goes for the record. (Chasing History: A Closer Look at the Sparks’ Incredible Run). I can’t cheer for L.A. I’m a Liberty fan… and.I.just.can’t.
I can, though, cheer for my friend Maria, who’s the best L.A./Basketball fan ever. So…. go Maria’s Sparks!
Around the Rim podcast: Making a statement
On this week’s “Around the Rim,” women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson breaks down the midway point of the season with espnW contributor Michelle Smith.
The two discuss which teams have surprised them most at the halfway mark, why New York shouldn’t be underestimated in spite of its losses against Los Angeles and if Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike is the favorite in the race for MVP.
Plus, in this week’s Players’ Perspective segment, Robinson is joined by three-time WNBA champion and Liberty forward Swin Cash. Cash talks about her retirement at season’s end, her plans after basketball, the team’s recent success and her views and opinions on athlete activism, specifically the WNBA players who have spoken out against gun violence and police brutality.
Speaking of celebrations… LJ!
Lauren Jackson and Seattle had never gotten a chance to say goodbye to each other.
When Jackson last walked off the KeyArena court four years ago, her tying 3-pointer had just helped the Seattle Storm beat the Minnesota Lynx in overtime in Game 2 of their playoff series. At that point, Seattle fans were hoping to see Jackson the following week in the Western Conference finals. Alas, the Storm lost the deciding Game 3 in Minnesota when Jackson missed at the buzzer, and a series of injuries prevented her from returning to the WNBA — or to Seattle.
Allow me to tell you a tale about Lauren Jackson.
I realize “you” will be interpreted as the thousands who will gather at KeyArena on Friday night for the retirement ceremony to retire Jackson’s No. 15 Storm jersey. But really I mean you, Breanna Stewart.
Australian basketball legend Lauren Jackson has jersey retired by WNBA club Seattle Storm
From Richard, S.I.: Olympics preview: US women’s basketball the heavy favorites in Rio
No team has been more dominant at the Olympics over the past 20 years then the U.S. women’s basketball team, winning five straight gold medals.
They’ll try and keep that streak going in Rio.
“Training time is always our biggest challenge,” said three-time gold medalist Sue Bird. “When you get to the medal rounds it’s one and done, but we have a lot of experience in those games and look to continue our recent success.”
USA U18 Women Surge Past Puerto Rico 104-36 Into Gold Medal Game (Tonight, 8:15 v. Canada)
More than just basketball:
From Jon Krawczynski at the AP: With league support, players make voices heard
Addressing such a sensitive topic in such a public fashion can be tricky — particularly for the league — and the players say they do so with the comfort that WNBA President Lisa Borders and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver have encouraged them to speak their minds when social issues are important to them.
“We appreciate like crazy the support we’ve gotten, particularly from the league,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “For Rebekkah (Brunson) to feel like when you’re going to work and the people around you support you and not just in things that benefit them, it makes you proud to go work for that organization.”
Silver has long been an advocate of players standing up for issues they believe in and the league has been vocal in addressing issues of race, gender and equality in society.
From Seattle’s Matt Calkins: Bravo to Breanna Stewart for being a 21-year-old willing to take a stand
You could tell she was nervous as she walked to the stage, and who among us wouldn’t be?
Storm rookie Breanna Stewart was known solely for her athleticism, not her activism, but that was about to change.
When the 21-year-old won the ESPY for Best Female Athlete on Wednesday, she planned to give more than just a cliché thank-you or two. The four-time national champion was going to champion a cause.
From the Tribune: ‘Stick to sports’ or speak up? Minnesota stars talk risk, power
A few hours before the freeway protest began, Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson and Seimone Augustus of the three-time WNBA champions stood on a stage in a media room at Target Center, wearing black shirts over their jerseys. “Change Starts With Us” read the front. On the back, support for two black men killed by police, Black Lives Matter and Dallas police officers gunned down in retaliation.
Photos of the event hit social media, where 10 reactions quickly became 100 and 100 became 1,000,000. That’s how it works now: shirts, then photos and video and tweets, then a streaking sound wave of reaction bolting across all forms of media. Faster, it seems, each tragedy.
The Lynx were everywhere, instantly, reaching ears and eyes that might not have ever heard of their basketball dynasty.
What about other athletes?
The Star Tribune asked nine people who have significantly touched Minnesota sports — from Hall of Famers to high school coaches and those in between — what they, personally, make of all this. Should athletes and others in sports use their voice? Or should they, to use a phrase repeated by some in recent days, “stick to sports”?
We thank them for sharing their personal thoughts and experiences.
The whole point was to create conversation. In that regard, the Minnesota Lynx succeeded.
In the six days since Lynx players donned black warm-up shirts memorializing Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the five slain Dallas police officers while asking for dialogue and healing, their message has been applauded, denounced, misconstrued and debated from coast to coast.
Subsequent news that four Minneapolis police officers on security detail Saturday night at the Target Center left the building in protest gave national legs to a story that might have fizzled by Monday afternoon.
Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau criticized the officers for walking off the job, and Mayor Betsy Hodges lambasted Lt. Bob Kroll, head of the Minneapolis police union, on Facebook for “jackass remarks” about the Lynx, including a condescending, inaccurate putdown of their attendance.
“The silver lining in that is, it got people talking,” Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson said of the police walkout.
When NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James opened Wednesday night’s ESPY Awards by addressing the recent racial tensions across the country, the message seemed clear.
“The urgency to create change is at an all-time high,” Anthony said.
From her vantage point, Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike saw a bold and brave gesture.
“It was great to see them lend their voice to the issue and not be afraid,” Ogwumike said. “Those guys are [popular], and what they say has the potential to affect their lives, but it’s important to get out in your community and encourage positive change, especially when times are tough. That’s when people look to [athletes] more. You have a bigger responsibility.”
Like their predecessors in the 1960s, modern-day professional athletes seem to be growing more aware of their potential to impact thought and change.
From Tamika: It Is Well With My Soul… Tribute to Pat
The last few days have been a whirlwind, but my current situation involves me lying on my living room floor, icing my knees after just waking up from a nap. I believe we all dream more often than not, but a lot of times we don’t remember what our dreams consist of. Well, mine definitely woke me up searching and looking…
The stage set up : ) —