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The love and legacy of Sylvia Fowles’ 15 WNBA years live on

(Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Everything in life comes to an end, eventually.

Perhaps no one knows that better than a mortician.

And a mortician also knows that we can’t always control when or how that ending occurs.

Sylvia Fowles, WNBA legend and funeral director, chose when her career ended. She decided that this was her perfect moment to exit the game, something she’s never wavered on. But how it ended — that was imperfect.

Her final contest included misses that caused her to scream in frustration, early fouls that sent her to the bench, and a comeback that came up short and eliminated the Lynx from playoff contention.

But an anticlimactic end doesn’t take away from the beauty of her career.

Fowles and Napheesa Collier, who returned to the court 2 1/2 months after giving birth to play with her teammate one last time. (Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In a perfect world, someone as impactful as Fowles has been to the WNBA would go out with a playoff run, maybe even a title. The Lynx, however, had their worst season since 2010, going 14-22 and bringing the franchise’s league-leading 11-game playoff streak to an end.

The season was rocky, but Fowles was stoic, putting up consistent numbers — she averaged 14.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game — while maintaining a consistent attitude to match.

“Syl is awfully special,” coach Cheryl Reeve said following the season-ending 90-83 loss at Connecticut on Sunday. “I might have been really resentful through most of the season if I was Sylvia Fowles. I might have been really pissy. Syl has a hell of a lot more love in her body than most of us.”

The 15-year WNBA veteran poured that love into her teammates, coaches, fans, and even opposing players this season. She spent countless hours knitting personalized hats for her Lynx teammates, selecting plants for her coaches and putting together gift baskets for the trainers and staff.

Prior to her final game against the Sun, she stole moments out of warm-ups to give her goodbyes to opposing players.

Jonquel Jones approached Fowles, and the two engaged in conversation, full of smiles and laughs. When they embraced, one hug wasn’t good enough, and Jones pulled her back in for a second.

Then, Fowles made her way to Bria Hartley, who after injuring her ACL earlier this season was sporting crutches and a hefty brace. Fowles put her hands on the injured knee, rubbing it gently as if to invoke healing powers.

Fowles’ final game provided a glimpse of the person she’s been throughout her career, an identity Reeve knows well. Since Fowles joined the Lynx seven years ago, she and Reeve have won two WNBA championships together in 2015 and 2017.

When the coach subbed her star player out at the end of the game, the two embraced on the sidelines. It lasted for 10 seconds, heavy with emotion, as though they were both trying to capture eight seasons of memories in one hug.

“There will never be another Sylvia Fowles,” Reeve said, wiping tears from her eyes. “And it’s not just the 4,000-plus rebounds, which is awfully impressive. But it’s the way she did it. It’s the love she has for people, for the organization, and the love for me. Life is going to suck without her, big time. She’ll still be in my life, no doubt about it, but we won’t get to share in the battles, or the side eye that she gives me, or the suck the teeth that she gives me. I’m going to miss that.”

Fowles ended her career with a 10-point, 12-rebound double-double performance against the Sun. (Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It’s easy to get caught up in Fowles the person, but Sunday was also a reminder of the center’s unparalleled basketball legacy.

In her final game, she became the only player in WNBA history to record 4,000 regular-season rebounds. She also ended her career as the leading rebounder for both of the organizations she played for — the Lynx and the Sky. Fowles is a two-time WNBA champion, securing Finals MVP honors on both occasions, an eight-time All-Star, and the WNBA’s career leader in field goal percentage (59.7). At LSU, she became the program’s all-time leading rebounder (1,570), and also topped the record list for blocked shots (321) and free throws made (494).

And on Sunday, Fowles recorded her 193rd double-double, despite a disjointed game in which she sat on the bench for extended periods due to foul trouble.

While Fowles has become known for her gentle spirit and generosity, she expressed frustration following her final performance, showing the competitive fire that propelled her to greatness.

Despite leading the league in double-doubles this season and finishing her final game with 12 rebounds, 10 points, two steals and a block, Fowles still thought she should have done more. She still wanted to be better for her team.

“I was a little annoyed with myself because I had a s—ty three quarters,” she said. “I felt like I did my teammates a disservice.”

That single sentence is a cocktail of emotions. The love, the competitiveness, the sadness, the legacy all wrapped into one.

“I think that is something I will do later,” Fowles said of processing those feelings. “Most of my emotion right now is just to be grateful.”

And though Fowles has kept out of the spotlight for most of her career, the 36-year-old was glad she stepped into it this season.

“I appreciate the love that I got from the fans this year,” she said. “Put things into a different perspective for me. I never got that over my first 14 years of playing, so to see that all come together in my last year, I’m very grateful for that as well.”

But no matter how much love Sylvia Fowles received from the league and its fans, it still doesn’t compare to the amount of love she’s given over the years.

Like Reeve said, “Syl has a hell of a lot more love in her body than most of us.”

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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