May 14, 2023 

In Atlanta homecoming, Tiffany Hayes plays like there’s something to prove

It’s all business for the former Dream vet

In her 11th season in the WNBA, Tiffany Hayes looks like her ordinary self: driving, rebounding, tumbling, and getting buckets. But what’s out of the ordinary is that she’s clad in an orange jersey. In February, after 10 seasons with the Atlanta Dream since her 2012 drafting, the Dream sent Hayes to the Connecticut Sun for their No. 6 2023 WNBA Draft pick.

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“It feels like a game I want to win. I spent my whole career here, but I’m with a great group of girls, a great organization,” Hayes told The Next before the Sun’s 85-68 preseason romp of the Dream on Sunday. “Of course, it feels weird, but I think I got used to wearing orange overseas.”

Whether she had something to prove or was finally healthy after a tough battle with injury last season, Hayes led her new team with 20 points and five rebounds on 7-11 shootings in 25 minutes. And she did it in her classic athletic explosiveness with two feet in the paint, drawing fouls, and scrappily getting the ball in the basket.

“Tip is one of the best to ever play in this league in getting to the rim. I don’t know that there’s anybody one on one that can stop her,” newly minted Head Coach Stephanie White said postgame. “She got to the rim; she got to the foul line. I think she played with incredible confidence and poise.”

Hayes missed much of the Dream’s season last year due to a right ankle injury and was out of the country for her Azerbaijani team commitments in the Dream’s final games, where they did not clench a playoff spot. With the Dream’s changing identity, Hayes’ large contract on the books, and the injury and absence, many speculated last season was the end of Hayes’ tenure.

“That has no bearings on what we’re doing. Tiffany is now with the Connecticut Sun. I thought she had a great showing today. She looks very healthy and able to play,” Atlanta Head Coach Tanisha Wright said about Hayes’ homecoming. “Tiff was a huge cornerstone to this organization. So we’ll always have love for Tiff, but when we’re in between those lines, it is what it is. She’s an opponent now.”

From the television screens littering the stadium to the Dream’s former franchise face’s dominant performance to her mother, sister, brother, niece, and friends watching from the stands, there was a feeling of homecoming.

Hayes was part of the Dream’s series of playoff runs that brought them to multiple Eastern Conference and one Finals. The Dream have not made the playoffs since 2018. When asked about team goals for the season, most players cite righting the playoff drought. 

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“It was so weird,” Dream guard Aari McDonald told media when asked about seeing her two-year former teammate in a Sun jersey.

And in a league where playing 10-plus years is anything but common, Hayes will be known in Atlanta and across the league for her longevous career.

“Tip has done so many things for this league as a player, so many things for this Atlanta Dream franchise as a player and as a leader,” White said. “Hopefully, when she comes back in the regular season, she’s going to continue to get a warm welcome.”

The Dream’s regular season opens against the Dallas Wings on Saturday, May 20, and their home opener is against the Indiana Fever on Sunday, May 28, and next play the Sun on June 11 in Atlanta once again.

Written by Gabriella Lewis

Gabriella is The Next's Atlanta Dream and SEC beat reporter. She is a Bay Area native currently studying at Emory University.


  1. CJ on May 15, 2023 at 7:02 am

    Thanks for the game summary!

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