Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles highlight league evolution at WNBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago


Sylvia Fowles made her WNBA All-Star Game debut with a dunk in 2009.

Thirteen years later, Fowles concluded his time as an All-Star by throwing another dunk in Sunday’s 2022 WNBA All-Star Game. The 36-year-old will retire after this season following a 15-year career in the league.

“Now her nickname is Sylvia ‘Tom Brady’ Fowles because now she’s coming back for another year,” Chicago Sky’s Candace Parker joked after Team Wilson’s 134-112 win over Team Stewart. “She can’t dive and then not come back.”

This weekend’s WNBA All-Star Celebration highlighted the league’s generational evolution, as two of the sport’s best players prepare to conclude their careers and young talent begins to redefine the book of records.

Former UConn women’s basketball great Sue Bird will join Fowles in retirement after the regular season. The two have shaped the sport since the late ’90s, influencing countless players, including some of the WNBA’s youngest stars. First-time All-Stars Kelsey Plum and Sabrina Ionescu each won individual titles this weekend: Ionescu the Skills Challenge crown and Plum the All-Star Game MVP award.

“It was amazing,” Bird told ESPN’s Holly Rowe after Sunday’s game. “The group behind me, both teams, it’s so much fun to be around these players. It’s really cool to know that for Syl and me, yes we go out but we obviously leave the game in amazing hands. It could have been one of the best all-star games.

Bird, who holds the WNBA record for most All-Star selections at age 13, was traded to Team Stewart with team captain Breanna Stewart’s final move at All-Star selection. Star of the last week.

“I’m really happy to share the court with these two, especially Sue,” Stewart said Saturday sitting next to Bird and Seattle Storm teammate Jewell Loyd. “Selfishly, (I) really wanted to trade for her just so I could share the field with her for her last All-Star. I think for Jewell and me, we just want to play with her as much as possible, so if we can be on a team, we will.

All-Star weekend began Saturday in Chicago with the WNBA teaming up with some of the top high school players in the All-Star Skills Challenge.

With the Elite Youth Basketball League (EBYL) hosting the Nike Nationals also in Chicago this weekend, each All-Star paired a high school player during the all-court challenge that included dynamic dribbling, passing and of shots. Ionescu, who partnered with NC State signing Zoe Brooks, won the Skills Challenge in her All-Star debut.

Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley made history by winning her fourth WNBA 3-point contest title. Quigley becomes the first NBA and WNBA player to win four titles in the contest. Larry Bird and Craig Hodges of the NBA follow her with three titles each.

Various brands held parties over the weekend to celebrate the WNBA and specific athletes. The league also held a private concert with Chance the Rapper.

“I think Chicago did a really good job of putting on All-Star Weekend,” Fowles said. “I mean from start to finish, it was non-stop revelry, and you haven’t seen that in an All-Star weekend in a long time. So I would say this All-Star in general is to hands down one of the best I’ve had in my eight All-Stars.

Fowles started Sunday’s game by scoring a 3-pointer off the top of the key. It was Minnesota center’s second 3-pointer in his career (including all regular and playoff seasons) and first since 2010.

At halftime, each player released new jerseys to honor Phoenix Mercury star and honorary All-Star starter Brittney Griner. In their respective team colors, the new jerseys had Griner’s #42 on the front and “Griner” on the back. Griner has been detained in Russia since early February for drug possession.

“Honestly, we’re the most unified league in the world,” Wilson team captain A’ja Wilson said. “I think wearing the shirts was a statement to show that we are BG. Like yes, we have the shirts and pants, but BG is one of us. She’s our sister and at the end of the day we’ll do everything we can to strengthen the platform we have to make sure everyone does what they need to do to make sure she comes home. home safely.

Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces) of Team Wilson was named Game MVP after tying Maya Moore’s 2015 record for most runs scored in a single All-Star Game (30). The first-time All-Star also set the record for most goals scored in the All-Star Game with 12.

Connecticut Sun’s Plum, Ionescu and Jonquel Jones were the only players to successfully score in 4-point circles from the field – a new rule the league created just for the All-Star Game. Jones, WNBA MVP last year, finished second to Plum with 29 points for Team Stewart.

“I think I come out at the right time because they run too much, they jump too high, they have too much energy and it’s definitely not something I’m trying to do at 15,” Fowles said. after the game to see the young players intervene. “Watching these girls blossom and thinking about what they’re going to be like in the next two years, I think it’s going to be amazing. They’re going to do some really good things for our league. I just hope to see everyone s flourish in their own way.

In their final All-Star Game, Bird finished with six assists and a rebound in 15 minutes while Fowles finished with seven points, nine rebounds, six steals and three steals in 20 minutes.

More than 9,500 people attended Chicago’s first All-Star weekend. Sunday’s broadcast showed female basketball personalities sitting on the court during the game, including college coaches Dawn Staley (South Carolina) and Kelly Graves (Oregon).

by Stewart newborn daughter, Rubysat on Stewart’s lap on the bench during the game and recent new mom and former Husky colleague Napheesa Collier sat on the court with baby Mila.

“I think Ruby loved her first All-Star Game,” said Stewart, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists. “…All-Star Game is a game to have fun and celebrate and I wanted to bring it to the bench because it always has a good vibe. It always makes everyone a little happier and I think that “She wanted to crawl. She wanted to go on the court.

The WNBA regular season resumes Tuesday with five weeks until the playoffs begin in mid-August. The Chicago Sky leads the Eastern Conference with a 16-6 record followed by the Sun at 14-8. In the West, Las Vegas leads with a 15-7 record with the Storm in second at 15-8.

For Bird, who announced her decision to retire on June 16 in Connecticut, her focus is on soaking up all the latest, including this weekend’s All-Star Game.

“To be honest, I think the minute the words came out of my mouth a few weeks ago, I really felt at peace with everything,” she said. “There are definitely times when I get a little emotional or sad because I know it’s the end of something, but I’m also really excited to start my next life. So I just try to enjoy it. , soaking up everything, every cliche you can think of, and then we’ll see what happens next.

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