All Scores

Kia Nurse leads on and off the court for Canadian basketball

(Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Phoenix Mercury star Kia Nurse headlined the launch of SLAM Canada, with the basketball magazine featuring a cover story on Nurse’s career thus far.

Nurse, who grew up in Ontario, is no stranger to the sports world. She has four years in the WNBA and nine years within the Team Canada system under her belt, and her family has found success in professional sports as well.

Her brother Darnell is a defenseman for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, and her cousin Sarah Nurse won an Olympic gold medal with Canada’s women’s ice hockey team in February. Sarah is also a member of the PWHPA. Kia and Darnell’s parents, Richard and Kathy Nurse, were athletes as well.

“Having parents who played sports was really helpful just in the sense that they knew what it took and they knew the sacrifices and the accountability needed,” Kia told SLAM. “But I think they also understood what doors this could open for us if we wanted to do it. It was never, ‘You have to play, you have to train.’ We always had the option.”

Nurse played college basketball at UConn, winning two national championships, before being selected 10th overall by the New York Liberty in 2018. After three seasons with New York, she was traded to Phoenix. Through 32 games in the 2021 season, her first with the Mercury, she averaged 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game before going down with a torn ACL in the playoffs.

Phoenix eventually lost to the Chicago Sky in the WNBA Finals, falling 3-1 in the series.

”I think the hardest thing was just feeling like I wanted to go out there and help,” Nurse said. “I wanted to be able to help contribute to what we were trying to do and not being able to do that, it was hard. By the time [the Finals arrived], I was walking. I was on the bike. I rode the bike a lot. I was doing normal stuff, so mentally it was frustrating, because I felt normal. But I knew the moment that I went to take a jumper or cut that it wouldn’t work.”

Still, Nurse described the support she has received from both the Mercury and NBA’s Phoenix Suns (the teams share a facility) has been uplifting in her journey back. Suns players would ask her how she was each day, she said, and cheer when she made a particularly big step in her recovery.

“Having that additional support and those extra cheerleaders made a huge difference, especially in the first few weeks where you feel like you can’t do anything,” she said. “You don’t get it everywhere in the WNBA, but the Suns are the best allies for us, being there for us.”

The Mercury’s continued belief in her also goes a long way. The team re-signed Nurse in February.

As one of the faces of Team Canada, Nurse shoulders a lot of expectations. But her impact is felt both on and off the court, as Nurse also works with Kia Nurse Elite, the only Jordan Girls EYBL team in Canada. She wants to give every girl a chance to play basketball, she said.

Aware that removing barriers within the sport is key, she’s also working in television broadcasting, hoping to also create more space for women.

“My legacy, I hope, is that I left every single thing I had on the floor out there every single time that I stepped off of it,” Nurse said. “And that’s kind of how I’ve always played. I’ve been a hard-nosed, tough defender. If it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, I promise you, I’ll find a way to impact the game, even if it’s not on there. That’s kind of a nod to my parents. That’s who my parents have been my entire life, impactful in everything they were doing. And so that’s how they raised us to be.”

SLAM Canada featured Nurse as one of the three cover stars on their first issue of SLAM Canada, the magazine’s first international edition. The other cover stars are Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Alyssa Naeher’s goalkeeper jersey sells out in less than three hours

uwnt goalie alyssa naeher wears jersey on the field with club team chicago red stars
USWNT star keeper Alyssa Naeher's new replica NWSL jersey was an instant success. (Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time in the NWSL's 12-year history, fans can now buy their own goalkeeper jerseys. And while replica goalkeeper jerseys representing all 14 NWSL teams hit the market on Wednesday, some didn't stick around for long. 

Fans across women's soccer have long vocalized their discontent over the position's lack of availability on social media, often comparing the shortcoming to the widespread availability of men’s goalkeeper jerseys. And as the NWSL has grown, so has demand — and not just from those in the stands. 

"To have goalkeeper kits available for fans in the women’s game as they have been for so long in the men’s game is not only a long-awaited move in the right direction, it’s just good business," said Washington Spirit goalie Aubrey Kingsbury in an team press release. "I can’t wait to see fans representing me, Barnie [Barnhart], and Lyza in the stands at Audi!"

Business does, in fact, appear to be booming. Alyssa Naeher’s Chicago Red Stars kit sold out less than three hours after the league's announcement. Jerseys for other keepers like DiDi Haračić, Abby Smith, Michelle Betos, Katelyn Rowland, and Bella Bixby aren’t currently available via the Official NWSL Shop, though blank goalkeeper jerseys can be customized through some individual team sites. Jerseys start at $110 each.

"This should be the benchmark," said Spirit Chief Operations Officer Theresa McDonnell. "The expectation is that all players’ jerseys are available to fans. Keepers are inspiring leaders and mentors with their own unique fan base who want to represent them... I can’t wait to see them all over the city."

Simone Biles talks Tokyo Olympics fallout in new interview

gymnast simone biles on a balance beam
Biles' candid interview shed light on the gymnast's internal struggle. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Decorated gymnast Simone Biles took to the popular Call Her Daddy podcast this week to open up about her experience at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, revealing she thought she was going to be "banned from America" for her performance.

After Biles botched her vault routine due to a bout of the "twisties," she withdrew from the team final as well as the all-around final in order to focus on her mental health. She later reentered the competition to win bronze in the individual balance beam final.

In her interview with podcast host Alex Cooper, Biles admitted to feeling like she let the entire country down by failing her vault attempt.

"As soon as I landed I was like 'Oh, America hates me. The world is going to hate me. I can only see what they’re saying on Twitter right now,'" she recalled thinking. "I was like, ‘Holy s---, what are they gonna say about me?'"

"I thought I was going to be banned from America," she continued. "That’s what they tell you: Don’t come back if not gold. Gold or bust. Don’t come back."

Widely regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time, Biles has hinted at a desire to join her third Olympic team in Paris, though her participation won't be confirmed until after the gymnastics trials in late June. She holds over 30 medals from the Olympic Games and World Artistic Gymnastics Championships combined, and if qualified, would be a sure favorite heading into this summer’s games.

Caitlin Clark reportedly nearing $20 million+ Nike deal

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever poses for a portrait at Gainbridge Fieldhouse during her introductory press conference
WNBA-bound Caitlin Clark is said to be closing in on a monumental NIke deal. (Photo by Matt Kryger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark is reportedly close to cementing a hefty endorsement deal with Nike.

The Athletic was the first to break the news Wednesday evening, commenting that the deal would be worth "eight figures" and include her own signature shoe. On Thursday afternoon, the publication tweeted that the deal would top $20 million, according to lead NBA Insider Shams Charania. Both Under Armour and Adidas are said to have also made sizable offers to the college phenom and expected future WNBA star.

The new agreement comes after Clark's previous Nike partnership ended with the conclusion of the college basketball season. She was one of five NCAA athletes to sign an NIL deal with the brand back in October, 2022. 

Considering Clark's overwhelming popularity and Nike's deep pockets, the signing's purported value doesn't exactly come as a shock. New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu’s deal with the brand is reportedly worth $24 million, while NBA rookie and No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama’s deal is rumored to weigh in at $100 million. And in 2003, LeBron James famously earned $90 million off his own Nike deal. 

Clark’s star power continues to skyrocket, with the NCAA championship averaging 18.9 million viewers and the 2024 WNBA Draft more than doubling its previous viewership record. Following the draft, Fanatics stated that Clark's Indiana Fever jersey — which sold out within an hour — was the top seller for any draft night pick in the company’s history, with droves of unlucky fans now being forced to wait until August to get their hands on some official No. 22 gear.

In Wednesday's Indiana Fever introductory press conference, the unfailingly cool, calm, and collected Clark said that turning pro hasn’t made a huge impact on how she’s conducting her deals.

"If I’m being completely honest, I feel like it doesn’t change a ton from how I lived my life over the course of the last year," she said. "Sponsorships stay the same. The people around me, agents and whatnot, have been able to help me and guide me through the course of the last year. I don’t know if I would be in this moment if it wasn’t for a lot of them."

Star slugger Jocelyn Alo joins Athletes Unlimited AUX league

softball star jocelyn alo rounds the bases at an oklahoma sooners game
Former Oklahoma star Jocelyn Alo has signed with Athletes Unlimited. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Former Oklahoma slugger Jocelyn Alo has signed on with Athletes Unlimited and will compete in the AU Pro Softball AUX this June.

The NCAA record holder in career home runs (122), total bases (761), and slugging percentage (.987), Alo was originally drafted by the league in 2022 but opted instead to join the newly debuted Women’s Professional Fastpitch

Alo currently plays for independent pro softball team Oklahoma City Spark, with team owner Tina Floyd reportedly on board with her recent AUX signing. AUX games are scheduled for June 10-25, while the Spark's season will kick off June 19th. Alo will play for both. 

Among those joining Alo on the AUX roster are former James Madison ace pitcher Odicci Alexander and former Wichita State standout middle infielder Sydney McKinney.

According to Alo, the decision to play in the Athletes Unlimited league was fueled by her desire to propel women's sports forward as well as provide more exposure to a sport that's given her "so many opportunities."

"Not only to challenge myself more, but just for the growth of the game," Alo said, explaining her reasoning to The Oklahoman. "I genuinely believe that professional softball can be a career for girls."

Joining AUX is also one more step in her plan toward representing Team USA at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

"I’m constantly thinking about how can I do these little things right in these four years to prepare me for the biggest stage of softball," she told The Oklahoman. "I definitely want to play in the Olympics, for sure."

Alo further expressed enthusiasm in the hope that the rise of other women’s sports, like women’s basketball and the NWSL, will push softball’s professional viability even higher.

"We’re seeing the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) get their stuff going, I see the WNBA starting to get hot," she continued. "I feel like the softball community is like, 'All right, it’s our turn and it’s our turn to just demand more.'"

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.