July 11, 2022
Daily Briefing — July 11, 2022: Let’s watch some All-Star game highlights
Messaging, accessibility missteps alongside greatness on the court
(Note: this originally went out with a temporary, since-corrected email heading. The Next apologizes for the error.)
It’s Monday, I’m sorry. Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 55 of the WNBA season was here — if you can consider the All-Star festivities as days of the WNBA season — featuring a joyous All-Star game concluding a weekend that the WNBA league office overshadowed in word and deed at nearly every opportunity.
- It started with a skills challenge and three-point contest that took place in a convention center in which the general public was not allowed, unless you won a barely-announced hunt around Chicago. The league knew this would happen when they picked Chicago for the weekend.
- Those challenges, by the way, were barely watchable, since they weren’t on League Pass but were kicked from ESPN to ESPNU by a foreseeable conflict with Wimbledon. (A league source confirmed the WNBA was not allowed to stream on its app. The rights belonged to ESPN.)
- Then there was apparently a Chance the Rapper concert that was closed to the public, with commissioner Cathy Engelbert citing gun violence to defend that decision, a trope often used against Chicago in racist context; at the same time, “the world’s largest free-admission outdoor food festival” was open nearby.
- Engelbert also referred to the idea of not placing All-Star weekends in states that ban abortions as possibly “run[ning] away from a city… that had those restrictive laws.” A minute later, she noted that WNBA players are “not necessarily schooled on political and social activism and things like that, but they’re just so good at it and using their platform to really effect change.”
- On the bright side, Engelbert announced the league would be chartering flights for the Finals, increasing the playoff bonus pool by 50%, and increasing to 40 games next year. She then added that “everyone can have their opinion, but we’ve been trying to grow the longest-tenured women’s professional sports league in the country.” NWSL, the professional women’s soccer league that has existed for less than a decade, is expected to expand to 14 teams the same year as the W.
But enough of the killjoys from Fifth Avenue. You knew some fun shit was going down in yesterday’s All-Star game just 12 seconds in, when Sylvia Fowles popped out of horns with the biggest smile on her face, even before she got the ball. And then this happened:
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Fowles’ All-Star-career mark from three now stands at 1-for-4; she’s a career 1-for-1 in the regular season.
Kelsey Plum did this to Jonquel Jones. I mean, just look at that damn footwork:
Alley-oop, featuring Ruby Mae Stewart Xargay:
It didn’t work because she lost the handle, but this spinning crossover from Jewell Loyd was frickin’ nasty:
You’re gonna want to put this Candace Parker pass on repeat a few dozen times:
Sylvia Fowles threw it down (sound on!):
And because you deserve more angles:
Fowles played a little defense to boot:
I’m going to make this Plum pass my screensaver:
Also, Jewell Loyd:
And anyway, here’s the highlight of my year:
There was a massive standing ovation when Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles checked out with 2:10 to go. Unfortunately, the ESPN broadcast showed Bird almost exclusively and only a couple seconds of Fowles’ back at the end, even showing Bird herself clapping for Fowles’ exit.
After the game, a ref sought out Bird to present her with a game ball. Later, after Bird’s postgame, she can be seen appearing to say “hey, Syl, here!” and gives the game ball to Fowles. Why the WNBA didn’t prepare two game balls, and why the only one was given to Bird — who did not dunk yesterday — is unclear.
Friend Of The Daily Briefing and Mercury News editor Alex Simon said it best:
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Sunday, July 10 All-Star game recap
Team Wilson beat Team Stewart, 134-112. The teams were tied in the early second quarter, and then lost the period 36-11. Seven threes were attempted before the first two-pointer, kicking off an All-Star game record 109 combined three-attempts, per ESPN Stats & Info; Team Wilson shot 53.1% from the field and 42.9% from three; Team Stewart notched 10 steals; the teams combined for five fouls.
The All-Star MVP was awarded to Aces point guard Kelsey Plum, who led Team Wilson with an All-Star-game record-tying with 30 points on 12-for-18 from the field and 5-for-11 from three, plus three assists against; Liberty combo guard Sabrina Ionescu had 19 points on 6-for-10 from three (1-4 4pt.), six rebounds, and six assists; Sky big Candace Parker notched 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting (2-4 3pt.), eight rebounds, and three assists; center Sylvia Fowles tallied seven points on 3-for-4 FG (1-1 3pt.), nine rebounds (five offensive), six assists, three steals, and one loud block without a turnover; Dream wing Rhyne Howard finished with 13 points on 3-for-7 from three (2-2 from two), five rebounds, and four assists.
Team Stewart was led by Sun big wing Jonquel Jones’ double-double with 29 points on 11-for-20 from the field and 5-for-11 from three and 13 rebounds, plus five assists and two steals; Storm combo guard Jewell Loyd scored 21 points on 7-for-13 from three (0-3 from two); Storm big wing Breanna Stewart had 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting (2-5 3pt.), four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.