Despite deboarding her plane from Turkey at 2 p.m. Los Angeles time Monday, Kayla McBride proved instrumental in the Minnesota Lynx’ first win of the season Tuesday night, less than 36 hours after she landed in the United States.
While it felt like 6:30 a.m. in Turkey to the globe-trotting McBride, she was excited to be back with the Lynx (1-4) – especially after helping Fenerbahce Safiport to the Turkish League title on Sunday.
“The whole ride here, I’m thinking about how grateful I am to do what I do,” McBride said. “Being a professional athlete, it’s only going to last so long. So you have to grind, but the chemistry, how much we grew just tonight, is worth it.
“I understand what this Lynx culture is about. It doesn’t matter how tired I am or how jet-lagged, I want to show up and give whatever I can give. I’m super grateful that I showed up for my team, because we needed that. Whatever it was that God had intended, whatever his plan was, it was for me to be here tonight.”
McBride gave everything she had and more in the 87-84 win against the Los Angeles Sparks, playing nearly 38 minutes. She scored a team-high 24 points – including the game-winning 3-point play – without even knowing the day of the week.
“What’s today? Tuesday?” she asked to start her press conference. “It’s Tuesday, right?”
McBride rattled off four 3-pointers in the first quarter. She was joined in the 20-point club by Sylvia Fowles, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out, and Moriah Jefferson, who had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Jefferson joined Minnesota last week after being waived by Dallas.
Nneka Ogwumike had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Sparks, while Liz Cambage and Lexi Brown each had 12 points apiece.
“We knew what our challenges were, and it was necessary for us to respond to some of those challenges so we could have some stability for the long run,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “You’ve seen Kayla’s impact in terms of pace of play, that you’ve got to guard her. That just gave us another dimension.
“I knew she would be in shape because she was coming off playing [overseas]. I don’t necessarily like playing her that many minutes, but she was that good. She’s a captain of this team and wants her play to be contagious. It was all that and then some.”
McBride wasn’t going to stay on the sidelines.
“There’s no way I could’ve been sitting on the sidelines today, as exhausted as I was. That’s just kind of in my DNA,” she said. “There was no way. I’m never going to take these moments for granted. I enjoyed every moment of it, as exhausted as I was. Thirty-eight minutes? Hey, whatever. Whatever it is, rest up and that’s just kind of the name of the game the women play.”