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4 часа назад, sd_32 сказал:

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если товарищ уважаемый Мигс так решит. то конешно. ваще можно круто всё зделать. устроим супер голосование. дебаты на ютуб повыкладывать. в режиме онлайн порешаем вопрос. все вопросы к мигелю. my dude.

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The Athletic’s expanded WNBA coverage will include on-the-ground reporting of all 12 teams

:durantplus:sounds about right :kirilenko:

означает ли ето возможности бесперебойно постить тонны копипасточки на ежедневной основе в данный тред? вопрос риторический, поехалите

https://theathletic.com/918766/2019/04/11/washington-mystics-follow-familiar-script-with-surprising-first-round-draft-pick/

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Washington Mystics follow familiar script with ‘surprising’ first-round draft pick

By Lindsay Gibbs Apr 11, 2019 1 

When the Washington Mystics came on the clock with the 10th pick in the WNBA draft, the University of Iowa’s Megan Gustafson, the University of Missouri’s Sophie Cunningham, and China’s Han Xu all sat glammed up in the audience at Nike headquarters, surrounded by ESPN cameras, eager for their names to be called.

But, when the Mystics finally submitted their pick, there was no celebration in Manhattan. Instead, the partying was taking place about 500 miles south, at a Kickback Jacks in Raleigh, North Carolina, where N.C. State guard Kiara Leslie was watching the draft surrounded by her parents, one brother, lots of cousins, and almost her entire college team.

“I was totally — I was surprised,” the overwhelmed 6-foot guard said moments later, on speaker phone from the kitschy, southern sports bar chain. “I guess to hear my name, I was shocked.”

While most mock drafts had Leslie being drafted early second round at best, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone that Mystics coach and general manager Mike Thibault picked Leslie. His last three first-round draft picks (Kahleah Copper in 2016, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough in 2017, and Ariel Atkins in 2018), plus his second-round pick in 2015, Natasha Cloud, have all been tall, athletic guards who like to to attack the basket and are good on defense. Leslie fits that profile perfectly.

Plus, the Mystics have had luck with players who weren’t one of the WNBA’s 12 featured draft attendees — neither Cloud nor Atkins were invited to the draft, and both started for the Mystics in last year’s WNBA finals.

“This is a player we’ve been focused on for quite some time. We felt that this was the most ready player as far as playing both ends of the court,” Thibault told reporters gathered at the Mystics’ new home, the Entertainment Sports Arena. “She’s a pro defender coming out of college, which is hard to find. Maybe one of the more advanced players I’ve drafted as far as being ready for this level, defensively. And then offensively, over the last couple years, she’s had to really improve in the areas that have become the most important in pro basketball, three-point shooting being one of them.”

The Mystics have had a rather quiet offseason, which makes sense considering they made it to the WNBA Finals last year, so they clearly weren’t in desperate need for a roster overhaul — particularly since All-Star center Emma Meesseman will be back this season, after missing last year because of commitments with the Belgian national team. They re-signed Cloud and center LaToya Sanders; forward Mo Currie retired; and they opted not to re-sign center Krystal Thomas.

Their biggest loss was guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who had been a Mystics defensive staple since she first made the roster as an undrafted rookie out of the University of North Carolina in 2013. She was a free agent and signed with the Los Angeles Sparks.

While Leslie’s defense will hopefully help make up for Ruffin-Pratt’s absence, for Thibault, it was crucial that any player he added to the roster also be a potent scorer, particularly from beyond the arc. The Mystics were swept by the Seattle Storm in the finals last year, and Thibault felt the team was particularly exposed by not having enough shooters on the floor.

“When you get to the highest level of our league and you get to the semi-finals or the finals, you can’t afford to have teams cheat on you defensively and leave people open,” he said.

Leslie checks all of those boxes. But her journey to D.C. was not a straightforward one. She spent the first two years of her college career at Maryland, where she only averaged around four points and three rebounds per game. She sat out the entire 2016-17 season because of an injured ankle, and then decided to transfer to N.C. State for two years, which she spent as a redshirt junior and a graduate student. In Raleigh, Leslie flourished, and helped transform the Wolfpack from a middle-of-the-pack ACC squad to a Top 10 team. This year, she averaged 15.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, both of which were team highs.

Plus, she stepped up when it mattered the most. In N.C. State’s three NCAA tournament games this season, Leslie averaged 20.6 points and 8.7 boards. She doesn’t shy away from big moments, and, she feels confident that she can contribute right away.

“I feel more prepared than ever,” Leslie said. “I think that the next level is something that I’ve been waiting for all my life. I’m coming in as a bigger guard. I think I can come in and defend well, rebound. I’ve really improved on my shooting, so I definitely don’t plan on slacking in that area any. And definitely slashing, what I’ve been known for all my life.”

The Mystics didn’t have a second-round pick on Wednesday night; they traded that pick to the Dallas Wings along with Tayler Hill last year, in exchange for Powers. In the third round, with the 34th overall pick, the Mystics selected center Sam Fuehring from Louisville.

It will be a long-shot for Fuehring  to make the team. The front-court is expected to be loaded, with Meesseman, 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, Sanders, Tianna Hawkins, and Myisha Hines-Allen, a second-round pick in the 2018 draft that had some phenomenal moments during her rookie year. (Meesseman will have to miss a couple of weeks early in the summer because of national team commitments, but is expected to be back for the vast majority of the season.)

Of course, the Mystics have a nice selection of guards, too. Kristi Toliver, Atkins, and Cloud are all returning, as is Powers — who stepped up huge for the Mystics in the playoffs, and is likely to get a lot of the minutes that Ruffin-Pratt had last season coming off the bench. Thibault is also hoping to get his 2017 first-round pick, Maryland guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough — a former teammate of Leslie’s in College Park — more playing time this season, to really get a sense of how she has developed.

The Mystics have also signed guards Shey Peddy and Kim Mestdagh to training camp contracts. Peddy is a Temple alum who has been making waves in the Euroleague this season and Mestdagh is Meesseman’s Belgian teammate who had a phenomenal showing in last year’s FIBA World Cup. The competition just to make it onto the 12-woman roster in D.C. is going to be fierce.

But Thibault feels convinced that Leslie’s even-keeled demeanor, self awareness, and work ethic will help her adjustment to the WNBA go smoothly. And, thanks to the depth on the roster, she’s not going to have to figure it all out overnight.

“We’re in a better position for our team right now,” Thibault said. “So there’s not going to be pressure on her to be a savior on this team by any means at all.”

(Top photo of Kiara Leslie/By Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports)

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Lindsay Gibbs is the Sports Reporter at ThinkProgress, and co-host of the feminist sports podcast, Burn It All Down. Follow Lindsay on Twitter @linzsports.

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https://theathletic.com/982688/2019/05/17/as-liz-cambages-messy-trade-saga-comes-to-an-end-why-the-result-is-a-big-win-for-the-wnba/

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As Liz Cambage’s messy trade saga comes to an end, why the result is a big win for the WNBA

By Lindsay Gibbs May 17, 2019

On Thursday morning, eight days before the 2019 WNBA season tips off, the biggest offseason storyline in an offseason chock-full of headlines came to a close, when the Dallas Wings traded 6-foot-8 Australian center Liz Cambage to the Las Vegas Aces in exchange for Moriah Jefferson, Isabelle Harrison, and the Aces’ first- and second-round draft picks in 2020.

Given all of the circumstances at play, this truly is a happy ending for all parties. The Wings gained four significant assets and can finally move forward with their rebuild; the Aces instantly become title contenders; Cambage gets a fresh start on her WNBA journey; and the rest of us are gifted with at least one more WNBA season of Cambage’s dynamic dominance, on and off the court.

That is certainly a reason to celebrate. After all, last season Cambage was first in the league in scoring, with 23 points per game, and second in the league in rebounding, with 9.7 boards per game. She had a player efficiency rating of 30.7 and shot a staggering 58.9 percent from the field. Last July, she scored a WNBA record 53 points on 22 shots and 10 rebounds in a win over the New York Liberty, and then just two nights later scored 35 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. It was the best two-game stretch in league history. She was, naturally, an All-Star, and finished second in MVP voting, behind Breanna Stewart. So, make no mistake about it, the Wings are going to miss her. Desperately.

But Cambage — who was drafted by the Wings organization back in 2011, when it was the Tulsa Shock, but has only played three seasons in the WNBA since — made it publicly known in January that she was requesting a trade, and was adamant until recently that she would only go to one team, the Los Angeles Sparks. The Wings had spent months trying to get a deal done, but lost leverage as time went on, considering Cambage showed no signs that she was willing to suit up and play in the WNBA if the Wings retained her rights.

So, while upon first glance this doesn’t look like an equivalent exchange for such a transcendent talent, upon closer inspection, this trade sets up the Wings nicely in the long-term.

Jefferson is a 25-year-old guard who grew up 20 minutes outside of Dallas. She was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft, and though she has been struggling with a knee injury the past couple of years and has still not decided whether she is going to play in 2019, she is the young, dynamic shooter and ball distributor this depleted Wings squad needs. She will join a guard rotation that includes No. 5 overall pick Arike Ogunbowale, 2017 Rookie of the Year Allisha Gray, Tayler Hill, Kaela Davis and All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith — who is expected to return at some point this season after giving birth last month.

Harrison, meanwhile, is a 6-foot-3 center who had a dominant season playing in Italy this year. She was a 2015 draft pick with just two WNBA years under her belt, most recently in 2017 when she started in 33 of 34 games for the Aces, averaging 11.4 points, 6.4 boards, and shooting 50 percent from the field. She sat out last season for personal reasons, but should be battling for a starting spot on the Wings roster that features a post rotation of another former Tennessee Volunteer, Glory Johnson, physical forward Kayla Thornton, and the 6-foot-6 force of nature Azura Stevens, who was a standout last year in her rookie campaign.

Add to that mix in the paint 6-foot-7 center Imani McGee-Stafford, whom the Wings acquired via a trade with the Atlanta Dream that was finalized just hours after the Cambage trade on Thursday. McGee-Stafford, in her fourth WNBA season, has gotten lost in the rotation the last two years with the Dream and the Chicago Sky. Now, she will provide the valuable rim protection that the Wings would miss in Cambage’s absence.

When you figure in their two draft picks next year, suddenly the Wings have a promising, young core, with plenty of assets and cap space to make plays in free agency. That has to have new head coach Brian Agler, who recently coached the Sparks to a WNBA championship, excited about the future.

Vegas, meanwhile, just became one of the most formidable teams in the league overnight.

Cambage will join forces with 2018 Rookie of the Year A’ja Wilson, the 6-foot-4 power forward who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Also on the Aces? The No. 1 pick from this year’s draft, former Notre Dame guard Jackie Young, and the No. 1 pick from the 2017 draft, point guard Kelsey Plum.

Offensively, Vegas now has three of the top eight scorers from the 2018 season — Cambage (23 points per game), Wison (20.7), and guard Kayla McBride (18.2). All three were also in the top 10 in free throws, which shows how physical this team is. Plus, Cambage and Wilson are two of the league’s best rebounders and shot blockers. Then there’s Plum, who was fourth in the league in three-point field-goal percentage, and in the top 10 in effective field goal percentage, offensive rating, and free throw percentage.

Head coach Bill Laimbeer has to be feeling pretty good about his odds right now.

Of course, the biggest question after a trade like this is always, was this the best deal available? According to High Post Hoops, back in January the Aces had an offer on the table for Cambage in exchange for Jefferson, Harrison and the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. However, that was tabled because until last week, Cambage showed no signs of being willing to play for the Aces. So the Aces went into the draft without this deal as their priority and chose a player who worked for them — Young — but who wasn’t a perfect fit with the Wings. Hence Dallas’ addition of next year’s first and second rounders in the trade.

The Sparks previously had an offer on the table, as well. High Post Hoops also reported that a few months ago, the Sparks had offered the Wings their 2019 first-round pick, 2020 first-round pick, and center Maria Vadeeva in exchange for Cambage. On paper — and with the benefit of hindsight — that might have been the absolute best outcome for all parties, and finally given Cambage the WNBA experience of her dreams. We’ll never know.

We do know that the Wings now have a chance to move forward with freedom and flexibility, the Aces get a frontcourt for the ages, Cambage gets to experience an American city that isn’t Tulsa or Dallas, and the rest of us get to watch Cambage work. Reality is pretty sweet after all.

(Top photo of Cambage: Tim Heitman / NBAE via Getty Images)

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Lindsay Gibbs is the Sports Reporter at ThinkProgress, and co-host of the feminist sports podcast, Burn It All Down. Follow Lindsay on Twitter @linzsports.

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https://theathletic.com/984441/2019/05/20/five-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-2019-washington-mystics/

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Five things you need to know about the 2019 Washington Mystics

By Lindsay Gibbs May 20, 2019 6 

There’s an undeniable buzz around the Washington Mystics in training camp. Is it the new home court and practice facility in Congress Heights? The fact that they’re coming off of the most successful season in franchise history? The return of one of their best players in the league? The undeniable chemistry of a core that has now spent three seasons together? The answer, of course, is yes. It’s all buzzworthy.

Two years ago, Mystics coach and general manager Mike Thibault transformed his team from fringe playoff participants to bonafide contender when he landed 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne in a trade, and All-Star guard Kristi Toliver via free agency. That year, the Mystics made a surprise run to the semifinals, before being swept by the Minnesota Lynx. Last year, they made it all the way to the finals, before being swept by the Seattle Storm.

Now, the team’s motto is simple: “Run it back.” And, of course, finish the job this time.

There are plenty of reasons to believe this team is capable of doing just that. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2019 Washington Mystics, who start their season on Saturday night on the road against the Connecticut Sun.

Emma Meesseman has returned

Honestly, you could sum up the Mystics’ argument for a championship in two quick sentences: Last year, they made the finals without Emma Meesseman. This year, she’s back.

Don’t worry, if you need more information, I’ve got you covered. Meesseman is a 6-foot-4 center who missed last year because of commitments to the Belgian national team. The Mystics drafted her when she was an unproven 19-year-old from Belgium, and goodness has their second-round gamble paid off. Meesseman was a WNBA All-Star in 2015, and overseas, she plays for the best team in Euroleague, UMMC Ekaterinburg. In 2018, she was named the Euroleague Final Four MVP.

LaToya Sanders played incredibly well in Meesseman’s absence last year, but this 26-year-old is an elite talent that instantly turns the Mystics a more formidable opponent.

“She’s such a weapon, both offensively and defensively,” Delle Donne said at training camp. “She’s just so versatile. She poses so many problems for defenses, and it just kind of opens everybody else up having her back.”

In 2017, Meesseman averaged 14.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. She can help boost the Mystics’ ability to protect the rim and rebound, and she adds another outside threat into the mix. In 2016, she led the league in 3-point field-goal percentage, with 44.8 percent.

When Meesseman was last with the team back in 2017, she was pretty clearly burned out from years of non-stop basketball. But this year, she looks stronger mentally and physically, and is already making jaws drop.

“I was just telling (associate head coach Eric Thibault), ‘Emma’s gooood,’” third-year guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough told The Athletic. “I mean no disrespect to what she was doing in the past. Like, I just forgot. She’s good. I told Eric, ‘I see why you guys were pushing to bring her back. If you had needed me to fly to Belgium, I would have paid for the flight. Whatever you need me to do, write her a letter, text her.’”

There is one significant caveat: Meesseman will be in Europe for a month playing EuroBasket, from mid June through mid July, causing her to miss about 8-10 games. More on that later.

Last year’s starting core is in tact and healthy

The Mystics are returning pretty much every significant contributor to last year’s finals run. In the offseason, they only lost three bench players: veteran guard Mo Currie retired, defensive stalworth Tierra Ruffin-Pratt signed with the Los Angeles Sparks in free agency, and the team didn’t re-sign center Krystal Thomas.

The starting five of Delle Donne, Sanders, Ariel Atkins, Natasha Cloud, and Kristi Toliver are all back, as are Aerial Powers, Tianna Hawkins, Myisha Hines-Allen, and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. Even more impressively? All of these players are actually in D.C. for the entire training camp this year — a luxury the Mystics haven’t had in years, as players often don’t get back until a day or two before the season begins because of overseas commitments.

For the most part, the starting vets are all rested and healthy, too. Delle Donne spent most of the offseason rehabbing the left knee bone bruise on her left knee that she suffered in the semifinals against the Atlanta Dream last year. Sanders was able to rest during the offseason because her Euroleague team decided to buy out her contract in favor of Jonquel Jones. Cloud spent the offseason stateside, often working out at the Mystics’ new facility with its coaches and trainers. Toliver was an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards, so while she’s probably not rested, she at least isn’t burned out on playing.

Last year’s impressive rookie class of Atkins and Hines-Allen didn’t get much rest, as they both went overseas to play in Poland and Russia, respectively, but they come into camp healthy and looking so much stronger physically than they did at this point last year. That’s a whole lot of great news.

The injury bug struck early, so Walker-Kimbrough needs to step up

It can’t all be good news, of course. The Mystics received a blow at the very beginning of training camp, when their first-round draft pick Kiara Leslie was diagnosed with a torn meniscus and underwent surgery. The guard from N.C. State will be out 3-4 months. Then, in the first preseason game against the Minnesota Lynx, guard Aerial Powers — who the Mystics acquired late last season in a trade with the Dallas Wings — suffered a left gluteal injury. She will be out 2-4 weeks.

The injuries are frustrating for sure, but they aren’t deadly for a Mystics squad that came in with a good amount of depth already. And they provide an especially great opportunity for  Shatori Walker-Kimbrough to earn some significant playing time.

Walker-Kimbrough was the Mystics’ first-round pick in the 2017 draft. But the Maryland stand-out has gotten lost in the shuffle the last two seasons, and been plagued by inconsistency and an occasional lack of focus. She was one of Thibault’s biggest question marks headed into this training camp. And she came to camp prepared to provide answers.

“I’m just trying to be consistent right now. Just gain that trust early with coach, so that when I step on the court, or if he needs somebody, he doesn’t look at me like, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to get from Shatori today,’” she told The Athletic. “I’m just trying to build that foundation, build that trust early.”

So far, it’s working.

“She’s been good, she’s more aggressive,” Thibault said. “I think it helps her that she knows that there’s a playing time available to her if she does the right stuff.”

In the Mystics’ second (and final) preseason game on Friday against the Atlanta Dream, Walker-Kimbrough got the start and led all scorers with 18 points. She’s likely to come off the bench for most of the year — Cloud, Atkins, and Toliver pretty much have the starting guard spots locked up — but if her aggressiveness continues, expect her to often be one of the first players off the bench. This could be her breakout year.

There is one roster spot up for grabs

Because Leslie’s injury wasn’t diagnosed until training camp, she will still take up one of the Mystics’ 12 roster spots this season. With nine players back from last year, plus Meesseman, that only leaves one roster spot really up for grabs.

Right now, the competition is between AJ Alix, a rookie guard out of Florida State; G’mrice Davis, a rookie forward from Fordham; Shey Peddy, a 29-year-old point guard who has never made a WNBA roster, but has had a successful pro career overseas; and Kim Mestdagh, a 29-year-old shooting guard who plays with Meesseman on the Belgian national team.

Alix and Davis have not gotten a lot of playing time in preseason games, and it would be a surprise to see them make the final 12. The last spot will likely come down to Peddy and Mestdagh, especially since Leslie’s injury puts the team slightly short at the guard position. Peddy has been the most impressive in preseason, and is coming off of a phenomenal Euroleague season. However, Thibault has been bullish about Mestdagh ever since seeing her up close at the World Cup last year, when he was watching Meesseman. He’s spoken highly of her often in the offseason, and seems to think she has the talent to contribute.

But Mestdagh just arrived at training camp this weekend, and if she did make the team, she would also have to miss a few weeks of the season because of Belgian national team commitments, alongside Meesseman. In that case, the Mystics would likely sign a replacement player during that period. So, it’s possible we could see both Peddy and Mestdagh on the roster this year. Either way, expect the decision to come down to the wire.

Expect a lot of shifting line-ups until mid July

It seems pretty obvious that the best starting five for the Mystics is Toliver, Cloud, Atkins, Delle Donne, and Meesseman. However, we probably won’t see that group start together until mid July.

In order to minimize the impact when Meesseman leaves midseason, Thibault plans to start Sanders in her place, and have Meesseman come off the bench. When she returns from Euroleague, the plan right now is to insert her back into the starting lineup for the end of the regular season and playoffs.

We could see a lot of interesting line-ups from the Mystics throughout the season, especially early, as they deal with the absence of Powers. Both Delle Donne and Hines-Allen have practiced at the three during camp, in order to add flexibility to the lineup. With five really solid post players on the roster (Delle Donne, Meesseman, Sanders, Hines-Allen, and Hawkins), there’s room for the Mystics to go big with three of those players on the floor at once. Thibault trusts all of these players, and Delle Donne, Meesseman, and Hawkins all have the ability to shoot from outside, so expect to see him experiment there.

At the same time, the Mystics have plenty of long, athletic guards — Walker-Kimbrough, Cloud, Powers, and Atkins are all 5-11 or taller — which gives the Mystics the ability to go small if need be, as well. The versatility of this roster might be its biggest strength.

(Top photo of Kristi Toliver: Brad Mills/USA TODAY)

What did you think of this story?

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Lindsay Gibbs is the Sports Reporter at ThinkProgress, and co-host of the feminist sports podcast, Burn It All Down. Follow Lindsay on Twitter @linzsports.

6  COMMENTS

Jacqueline P.

23h ago

1 like

Great work. Kudos!

Lindsay Gibbs

STAFF

19h ago

@Jacqueline P. Thank you so much!

Bill B.

21h ago

1 like

Great read, thank you! Nice to see The Athletic covering the Mystics and looking forward to reading more of your work.

Lindsay Gibbs

STAFF

19h ago

@Bill B. I really appreciate it, Bill! I'm so excited for this season.

William F.

17h ago

Lindsay great work. It so nice to have a successful organization to be a fan of. Being from Baltimore, l go through hell until football starts every year. Orioles Wizards and even U.Md.here lately can try your soul. I'll always be a fan but they make it so hard. Can't wait till we win a championship.

John H.

1h ago

This was great. Looking forward to the coverage this season

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https://theathletic.com/985015/2019/05/20/rookies-no-more-ariel-atkins-and-forward-myisha-hines-allen-looking-to-take-on-bigger-roles-for-mystics/

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Rookies no more: Ariel Atkins and forward Myisha Hines-Allen looking to take on bigger roles for Mystics

By Lindsay Gibbs May 20, 2019 3 

The start of WNBA season always has a back-to-school vibe, with the players reuniting after more than seven months spent dispersed all around the world. At Washington Mystics training camp, there are fresh faces (such as rookie Kiara Leslie), new hairstyles (I’m obsessed with LaToya Sanders’ curls ), long-lost friends (welcome back, Emma Meesseman!), and, just like in the high school days, a couple of people who look far more grown-up than they did when last year’s bell rung.

In this case, those grown-ups are guard Ariel Atkins and forward Myisha Hines-Allen, the stand-out rookie duo from 2018. Their wide-eyed wonderment and shy demeanors are long gone. They’re visibly stronger, audibly more communicative, and, perhaps most importantly, more comfortable with themselves and their teammates.

“I feel more loose,” Hines-Allen said, before showing off the little bit (“choot choot”) of Russian she learned during the offseason. Head coach Mike Thibault has certainly noticed.

“A year ago, their heads were spinning, trying to just figure out the basics. Now at least they have veteran mentality,” Thibault told The Athletic. “So, you know, they’re just so far ahead of where they were in their confidence.”

That’s great news for the Mystics and terrible news for the rest of the league. Both Atkins and Hines-Allen played key roles in the best season in franchise history — last year, the Mystics made their first trip to the WNBA Finals, where they were swept in three games by the Seattle Storm. If the Mystics are going to get over that final hump and become champions, there’s no room for sophomore slumps.

Because the WNBA season is only five months long, and the players don’t earn much money — the max salary is $117,500, and according to the High Post Hoops salary database, Atkins will make $49,611 and Hines-Allen $42,632 this season — most players in the league spend their offseasons on teams overseas, where they earn significantly more money for their services. This schedule can often cause players to get burned out and wear down their bodies. But, for young players it can also provide a wonderful opportunity for development.

Atkins, the Mystics’ first-round draft pick last year, spent the offseason in Poland, playing for the InvestInTheWest ENEA Gorzów, where she averaged 13 points, five rebounds and two assists in EuroCup play. Her team was the runner-up in the Polish league and made it to the Round of 16 in EuroCup.

“I had to be a little more physical over there,” Atkins said. “It was a good experience, and it made me grow up.”

In her rookie season with the Mystics, Atkins started 24 games and averaged 22.5 minutes, 11.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.3 steals. In the playoffs she was even more effective, averaging 15.2 points. She was named to the 2018 All-Defensive and 2018 All-Rookie teams, and finished ninth in the league in steals per game and second in the league in steal percentage. The fact that she looks to be even better this season has her teammates giddy. She’s expected to keep her starting spot this season and be much more aggressive offensively and defensively.

“I love her. She wasn’t a rookie last season, definitely not a rookie this year,” said Elena Delle Donne, Mystics forward and the 2015 WNBA MVP, when asked about Atkins’ development. “She’s definitely stronger. You can see her body, she’s a monster.”

In total, the 5-foot-11 guard from Texas was in Poland for about seven months, leaving the U.S. a couple of weeks after the Finals ended, and coming back just a couple of weeks before training camp began. She was the lone WNBA player on her squad, and one of only two Americans. She said the schedule was grueling and monotonous — sleep, eat and basketball. That’s it.

“They expected a lot out of me,” Atkins said. “Rookie year here, I was able to just kind of being in the backseat watching and listening, and not talking as much. But on my team in Poland, I was, I wouldn’t say seasoned, because it was my first year overseas, but I understood the game. And everybody that understood something could communicate it. So that was a big thing for me. Just learning how to open my mouth and say something.”

In between games, snacks and strength training, Atkins made sure to keep in touch with her Mystics “family” during the offseason, particularly Hines-Allen, who was going through a transformative experience herself playing for the WBC Enisey in Russia. In fact, Hines-Allen was thrown into one of the more harrowing overseas environments out there — on-court, the Louisville grad was one of just two WNBA players in the most competitive league in Europe, and off the court, she was a 12-hour time difference away from her friends and family, and experiencing winter in Siberia.

“I learned a lot,” Hines-Allen said. “One, that I can actually survive, because it was times where I was like, ‘I can’t do this, it is super hard.’ Basketball-wise it was hard. But also, you know, just living over there and not having anyone to talk to every day. I think that was the hardest part.”

Hines-Allen was the Mystics’ second-round draft pick last year and had to beat out veteran WNBA players such as Devereaux Peters just to make it onto the roster. But she made an immediate impact coming off the bench. In only 10.5 minutes per game, Hines-Allen averaged 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds. She played more than 20 minutes in three games. In two of those, she notched a double-double.

Myisha Hines-Allen spent her offseason playing in Russia to tune up her game. (Ned Dishman / Getty Images)

But in Russia, Hines-Allen wasn’t just expected to contribute; she was expected to be her team’s go-to player.

While last year, she played at the 4 or the 5 for the Mystics, overseas, she played all five positions — even occasionally serving as the team’s point guard. While overwhelming, that experience also allowed her all-around game to develop. Now, she’s more comfortable on the wing, passing and dribbling. She knows she can hold her own against the WNBA’s best because in Russia she had to guard players such as Brittney Griner one-on-one.

Emma Meesseman — the Mystics’ All-Star center who plays for the best team in Russia, UMMC Ekaterinburg — didn’t get to play with Hines-Allen last summer, since she missed the WNBA season due to commitments with the Belgium national team. So she was introduced to her future teammate when they faced off in Russia.

When I asked about her first impression of Hines-Allen, Meesseman dead-panned, “Well, she hit five 3s in my face, so not very good.” (She wasn’t really exaggerating, either — when UMMC and Enisey first faced off in October, Hines-Allen was 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. She attempted only four 3-pointers during her entire rookie season with the Mystics.)

Hines-Allen averaged 10.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists in Russia, and took steps toward becoming one of those positionless players whom Thibault loves so much. While it’s still likely she’ll be coming off the bench this season, since the roster is already missing some pieces — Meesseman will be gone for a month this summer due to commitments with Belgium, rookie guard Kia Leslie is out for 3-4 months after surgery for a torn meniscus and small forward Aerial Powers is out for 2-4 weeks with a hamstring injury — Hines-Allen’s increased flexibility could be crucial.

“I think she’s grown so much by going over to Russia and playing in the best league over there,” Delle Donne said. “So I can see her now really trying to play both the 3 and the 4 role, which is huge for us. We need that 3 position, and she’s kind of been welcoming it. She’s studying it. She’s staying late, coming early. So that’s important.”

Atkins and Hines-Allen might have left their meek, deer-in-the-headlights demeanors in 2018, but don’t mistake their looseness for nonchalance. Being swept in the Finals by the Storm hurt. They thought about it when they were overseas, half a world away from their comfort zone. It pushed them to get better. Now, they’re battle-tested and ready for a showdown.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a vengeance-type thing with me,” Atkins said. “It’s more so, we all individually get better and then find a way to get better as a team. Learn each other’s rhythm. I mean, we’ve just got to go out and go to war. It’s going to be a war every game. It’s the WNBA. It’s 12 of the best teams in the world.”

(Top photo of Ariel Atkins: Ned Dishman / Getty Images)

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Lindsay Gibbs is the Sports Reporter at ThinkProgress, and co-host of the feminist sports podcast, Burn It All Down. Follow Lindsay on Twitter @linzsports.

3  COMMENTS

Jack C.

May 20, 12:41pm

Great coverage

Jessica R.

20h ago

Great article. Looking forward to more coverage!

Mark C.

15h ago

So glad you are covering the Mystics. Nice article! I'm a sports fan and have followed women's sports as well as men's for a long time, but I'm excited to see women's sports getting better coverage. I love having examples for my daughter who I'm raising to be strong and independent.

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Lynx 2019 preview: And so begins a new era for a team reimagining its identity

By  Katie Davidson

 May 20

Ashley Walker still chasing her WNBA dream with the Sparks

Sabreena Merchant

May 20 2 Comments

Missing MVP and coach, unexpected underdog Storm attempt to engineer a repeat

Alex Coffey

May 20 11 Comments

Connecticut Sun preview: Details behind Chiney Ogwumike’s departure and players primed to break out

Molly Yanity

May 20 4 Comments

Q&A: Joseph Tsai on his priorities as first-year Liberty owner, starting with finding a new home court

Erica Ayala

May 20 5 Comments

Liz Cambage is gone. Without the WNBA’s best big, where do the Wings stand?

Dorothy Gentry

May 20 5 Comments

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https://theathletic.com/984795/2019/05/20/liz-cambage-is-gone-without-the-wnbas-best-big-where-do-the-wings-stand/

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Liz Cambage is gone. Without the WNBA’s best big, where do the Wings stand?

By Dorothy Gentry May 20, 2019 5 

It was the trade heard ‘round the league.

When the smoke cleared, the Dallas Wings – in the eyes of many inside and outside the WNBA – had lost, and lost big.

Gone to the Las Vegas Aces was Liz Cambage, the 6’9” 27-year-old who is the WNBA’s best big. Gone was an All-Star and last season’s MVP runner-up; the W’s leading scorer with 23 points and 9.7 rebounds per game; the history-making center who set a league record by scoring 53 points against the  New York Liberty; the player with the attitude, physical presence and larger-than-life persona that enthralled even the most casual WNBA observer.

In return for Cambage, Dallas acquired guard Moriah Jefferson – the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft by the Aces, then the San Antonio Stars – and forward Isabelle Harrison, a very talented post player but one with an injury history. They also obtained Las Vegas’ 2020 first- and second-round picks as part of the deal. Additionally, Dallas acquired Imani McGee-Stafford from the Atlanta Dream, giving up a 2020 third round draft pick for the 6’7” center.

The trade (requested in January by Cambage) immediately turned the Aces — who finished 14-20 last season and narrowly missed the playoffs — into instant title contenders. But what did it do for the Wings, who wound up at 15-19 after being led by the dynamic duo of Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith?

The 2019 season, already expected to be challenging, became that much tougher. This deal all but cemented their status as significant underdogs when the season kicks off on Friday.

On paper, it seems the Wings didn’t receive much for the loss of a talent like Cambage. Replacing her talent and production is a tough, tough job. It will call for a great deal of effort by a number of players.

That’s challenge No. 1 for the Wings, who are also beginning the season with a new head coach after Fred Williams was fired with three games left in the 2018 campaign. Brian Agler, a two-time WNBA Champion (Storm and Sparks) and 2010 WNBA  Coach of the Year, is the winningest coach in women’s basketball history and boasts an unquestioned championship pedigree. But replacing Cambage’s production is a definite concern. And there are others hanging in the balance.

Challenge No. 2 is the absence  — for the start of the season, at the very least — of team captain Skylar Diggins-Smith, who is coming off the birth of her first child. The team’s primary ball-handler and only other All-Star last season put up 18.9 points and 6.6 assists per game and led the league in minutes played. Replacing her production at point guard as well as her shooting, skill and quality decision-making as floor general won’t be easy. She has participated in training camp, but there is no timetable for her return.

Jefferson will be the Wings’ X-Factor. She averaged 13.9 points as a rookie but injured her knee in 2017. Jefferson, 25, averaged 5.4 points a game in 2018 after returning from injury halfway through the season but was limited to only 16 games and may sit out this season.

That would be unfortunate; the Wings need her.

The Dallas native was homeschooled, then played point guard for UConn, where she won four consecutive national championships. She finished her UConn career ranked first in assists, second in steals and as a two-time winner of the Nancy Lieberman Award as the top point guard in the nation.

The 5’6” guard has averaged 10.5 points and 3.8 assists per game over her WNBA career, while shooting 44.2 percent from the floor. She was voted to the 2016 All-Rookie Team and was second in Rookie of the Year voting.

If she can come back at full strength this season, Jefferson would instantly give the Wings significant minutes and handle the point until Diggins-Smith returns.

“While Moriah may ultimately decide to sit out the 2019 season, we are willing to wait for her first appearance in a Wings uniform. We believe she is an elite-level point guard and we are excited for her to join her hometown team and to be a key part of our organization for the foreseeable future,” said Greg Bibb, Wings President and CEO.

Cambage’s departure, Diggins-Smith’s absence and Jefferson’s uncertain status are the team’s three most prominent concerns as the season inches closer.

Even with the new players Dallas added, there’s a lot for the relatively young team to overcome. But the opportunity is there to create a formidable team that can compete and potentially surprise many this season.

The Wings’ roster of young talent includes last year’s No. 6 pick, Azura Stevens, who made the All-Rookie team. It also includes 2017 WNBA Rookie of the Year Allisha Gray, 2019 No. 5 overall pick Arike Ogunbowale, up-and-coming player Kayla Thornton (who just won a championship in Korea) and veterans Glory Johnson and Theresa Plaisance.

Working in the new players presents struggles and challenges, but Agler says it’s not impossible. “It’s a challenge but it’s the reality too,” said Agler. “We’re trying to put things together and it’s not going to happen overnight. There may be more changes as we move down the road. Whatever it is, you just have to make the best of it.

“You bring them in, try to get them up to speed as quickly as possible and then you go play. And then you take that and use that as a teaching format and move forward the next day,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of energy, a lot of excitement. Everything’s new for everybody, including myself. I like the way they’ve been receptive and their hunger to have success. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I also think that we can make a lot of strides this year,” said Agler.

Bibb is optimistic, too. “We are a better basketball team today than we were yesterday and we accomplished our goals in terms of the talent that we acquired in these transactions,” he said the day of the Cambage trade.

For their part, the new Wings on the block are ready and willing to come in and make their presence felt on the court.

“I think that Dallas has notoriously not really had a 5 outside of Liz. So I am a 5 and I give you a big body in the middle, rim protection, a defensive presence and I love to rebound, and so I think I bring that presence they don’t necessarily have immediately on their roster,” said McGee-Stafford. “I am excited to have an opportunity here and a chance to compete for minutes.”

McGee-Stafford, 24, appeared in 29 games for the Dream last season, starting two of them. She averaged 10.5 minutes a game while pulling down 3.4 rebounds. She scored a season-high 15 points against Minnesota on June 29. Originally the No. 10 pick by the Chicago Sky in the 2016 WNBA Draft, the fourth-year pro helped the Sky make an appearance in the 2016 WNBA semifinals and averaged 6.7 points and 5.6 rebounds a game over the course of her rookie season.

Harrison, 25, took a medical leave of absence during the 2018 season after starting 33 games for San Antonio in 2017. She averaged 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in 2017. That season, Harrison ranked No. 15 in the league in rebounding, No. 16 in blocks and No. 13 in field goal percentage. She also scored in double digits 20 times in 2017, surpassing 20 or more points on three different occasions. She pulled down double-digit rebounds in six different games. Harrison was originally selected by the Phoenix Mercury with the 12th overall pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft.

Harrison, who won a championship in Prague this summer, said she can bring good communication at the post position. “I can also bring defense obviously, so I want to make sure I keep being a strong part of the defensive system here,” she added.

The 2019 WNBA season starts Friday, and there’s much work to be done in the locker room and on the court for the Dallas Wings. But the players are convinced they’ll be better than most people think.

“I am really excited for this season because I know that there’s a lot of naysayers and a lot of people that are underestimating us and I’m really excited to prove a lot of people wrong,” Johnson said. “Our team here is really special. We have a lot going on that people don’t always get to see… but you guys will see soon.”

Don’t write them off just yet.

(Photo: Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images)

What did you think of this story?

MEH

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Dorothy is a seasoned journalist with more than 25 years in the business. She is a member of NABJ and the NABJ Sports Task Force and is a proud Journalism graduate of the University of North Texas. Follow Dorothy on Twitter @dorothyjgentry.

5  COMMENTS

Teresa M.

17h ago

Excellent article, Dorothy.

Jessica R.

15h ago

Great article! It will be interesting to see what happens this season.

Clayton S.

11h ago

Thank you Dorothy, I look forward to your Wings updates in the Athletic!

Divya R.

7h ago

Great article...definitely helped me think through some questions I had. Hopefully see you Friday!

Jim T.

1h ago

Arike will have me rooting for the Wings in addition to my main team (Phoenix)

READ MORE

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May 20 2 Comments

Missing MVP and coach, unexpected underdog Storm attempt to engineer a repeat

Alex Coffey

May 20 11 Comments

Connecticut Sun preview: Details behind Chiney Ogwumike’s departure and players primed to break out

Molly Yanity

May 20 4 Comments

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‘Invest. Compete. Empower’: Nicki Collen works to elevate success in second season with Dream

Kelsey Russo

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в бан или в жбан? вопрос риторический:hotgirl:

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Dynasty Battle:

 

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---=== Golden State VS Houston ===---

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посмотрим. у ГСВ 5 подряд финалов, однако Кометс брали четыре титульца подряд чего пока не удалось команде-династии КДюрента. моё предпочтение уходит в пользу ХЬЮСТОН БАСКЕТБАЛЛ с елементом трагичности.

2749-700226Fr.jpg2749-700236Fr.jpg2749-30Fr.jpg2749-700254Fr.jpg2749-700255Fr.jpg2749-700256Fr.jpg2749-700266Fr.jpg2749-700284Fr.jpg

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from the website:

https://theathletic.com/986883/2019/05/22/brian-agler-brings-championship-pedigree-to-dallas-wings-will-his-midas-touch-follow/

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Brian Agler brings championship pedigree to Dallas Wings. Will his Midas touch follow?

By Dorothy Gentry May 22, 2019

If you’ve spent any time around Brian Agler, you already know he’s no-nonsense. Serious. Direct.

If it’s sugar-coating you want, he’s not your man. Do you want the truth, with no punches pulled?  See Brian.

“I have a real narrow focus and try to stay that way as much as possible,” Agler said. “I try to be straightforward, honest and real and try to challenge people individually as a team.”

That laser focus has served him well, placing him at the top echelon of professional basketball as the winningest coach in U.S. women’s professional basketball.

The two-time WNBA champion and former WNBA Coach of the Year was hired as the Dallas Wings’ head coach in December in hopes that he would bring his championship pedigree to the Metroplex.

But one has to wonder: Why would a championship coach coming off of several great seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks suddenly resign to take over a rebuilding team which, like many around the league, has struggled to attract a large fanbase? Why was the Dallas job so attractive?

“I do like challenges,” Agler said. “I like to prove people wrong. Even since I signed to come here, our team has changed quite a bit, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean the goal is any different. Standards are the same. We just keep going.”

Agler brings more than 30 years of coaching experience to Dallas, including 14 years as a WNBA head coach. Seven of those were with the Seattle Storm, whom he led to the 2010 WNBA Championship while being named WNBA coach of the year. Most recently, he spent four years with the Sparks, where he notched an 85-51 overall record, four playoff appearances,  the 2016 WNBA Championship and a WNBA Finals appearance in 2017. Agler’s regular-season record over those two seasons? 56-12. 

“I was fortunate to have been coached by some exceptional coaches and good teachers,” he said by way of explaining his success. “I think being at this level for years now, I sort of have a feel for types of teams that can do good and become successful. I’m defensive-minded and when you emphasize that part of the game, that gives you the opportunity to be great.”

So, too, does talent, something Agler believes has been fundamental to his success at every stop. After that are culture, coaches and training staff. Finally, he says, “You definitely need to have resources to go find talent, go scout, et cetera, and have the ability to treat people in a real professional and unique manner.”

Wings President and CEO Greg Bibb believes Agler’s qualifications speak for themselves in that regard.

“I would like to take credit for being some masterfully insightful executive, but really all you have to do is look at Brian’s record and realize the guy is at the top of the class of what he does,” he says. “I watch the players respond to him and buy into what he is teaching and how quickly that is happening and seeing the progress we are making literally day to day.

“I have expectations for him based on his track record and he is exceeding those expectations so far.”

Agler certainly has his work cut out for him replacing Fred Williams, who was fired near the end of last season and, ironically, has since latched on with the Sparks as an assistant coach. The Wings have experienced back-to-back first-round exits from the playoffs and want to contend sooner rather than later. But there’s room to wonder whether the roster is built to match those ambitions. The dynamic duo of Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith is no more after Cambage requested a trade well before Agler arrived and was finally dealt to the Las Vegas Aces last week. Diggins-Smith is a new mom and while she has been at training camp, there is no timetable for her on-court return.

Another challenge: point guard Moriah Jefferson, a key piece in the Cambage trade and the runner-up for the 2016 Rookie of the Year award, may sit out this season.

Despite entering the season shorthanded, the Wings still have talent, most notably in the form of 2017 WNBA Rookie of the Year Allisha Gray, Kayla Thornton and Arike Ogunbowale, the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft. Whether they and a cadre of role players like Glory Johnson, Theresa Plaisance, Tayler Hill and newly acquired Imani McGee-Stafford remains to be seen.

For her part, Diggins-Smith is optimistic about what Agler can do with the roster.

“He brings a wealth of knowledge, understanding and championship leadership to Dallas,” she says. “I’m confident the Wings program will continue to grow and flourish under Coach Agler.”

And if they do, it will be through his trademark straightforward nature.

“I try to keep things clear and simple. I’m really direct. I tell the players, I’m like a strict diet,” he said. “If you want to go eat at McDonald’s in the middle of the night while on a strict diet, you won’t like the results. Metaphorically speaking.

“I’m being demanding and trying to get them into how we want them to play. But I also told them – like with a strict diet – if you stick with this, you will like the results.” 

At least one member of the roster isn’t surprised. Guard Brooke McCarty-Williams spent last year’s training camp with the Sparks, which made her well-versed in what her teammates have learned this spring.

“Brian is pushing us a lot harder than we’ve ever been pushed,” she says, “and I think it’s great.”

Agler is here to do so for the foreseeable future. Midas Touch and all. When Wings fans pile into College Park Center on the campus of the University of Texas at Arlington for the team’s home games, what can they expect?

“You’ll see a team that competes hard when they play against their opponents, who will be good on defense,” he says.  

And, Dallas hopes, a contender.

(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Dorothy is a seasoned journalist with more than 25 years in the business. She is a member of NABJ and the NABJ Sports Task Force and is a proud Journalism graduate of the University of North Texas. Follow Dorothy on Twitter @dorothyjgentry.

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Lindsay Gibbs

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https://theathletic.com/989657/2019/05/22/shes-changed-my-life-elena-delle-donne-opens-up-about-her-relationship-with-blind-and-deaf-sister/

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‘She’s changed my life’: Elena Delle Donne opens up about her relationship with blind and deaf sister

By Lindsay Gibbs 3h ago 1 

After the Washington Mystics lost to the Seattle Storm in the WNBA Finals last season, Elena Delle Donne didn’t head overseas to make upwards of $1 million like so many of her All-Star colleagues.

That decision was partially based on rehabbing the knee injury she sustained in the semifinals against the Atlanta Dream. But the primary reason she stayed behind — the reason that she foregoes the big payday and stays in the United States almost every offseason — was because she didn’t want to be too far away from her older sister, Lizzie.

Lizzie, who was born with cerebral palsy and autism, is deaf and blind. In the latest episode of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” the 2015 WNBA MVP opened up about her special relationship with Lizzie, and how it has impacted her life.

“Lizzie doesn’t know that I play basketball. She doesn’t know that I’m 6’5″. She just knows that I am one of her people and a really important person in her life,” Delle Donne tells Andrea Kremer. “And that’s all I wanna be.”

After Mystics’ training camp practice on Monday, Delle Donne said that she’s constantly moved by how many fans come up to her and ask how Lizzie is doing. She decided to share this intimate family portrait with HBO because she knows the impact that Lizzie’s story has on people.

“I mean, she’s changed my life so much and shaped the person I am, so I want to be able to share her with the world,” Delle Donne told The Athletic. “Hopefully it can inspire someone or make a difference in their life.”

During the 2015 WNBA All-Star Game, Delle Donne wore a pair of shoes designed by Matthew Walzer, a 19-year-old college student who challenged Nike to make a shoe for people with disabilities. (Jessica Hill / Associated Press).

Her Mystics teammate, Natasha Cloud, said witnessing the closeness between the Delle Donne sisters is indeed extraordinary.

“I’ve never seen a relationship more pure, a love more pure than Elena has with her sister,” Cloud told The Athletic.

“It’s so cool for us to see Elena in a different light, an almost a vulnerable light. Because you look at Elena Delle Donne, and you see her as this face of women’s basketball around the world, and this badass woman. But at home she takes that hat off and she becomes this sister, and that’s the most important role to her in her life is being, you know, a wife and a sister and a daughter. And I think that speaks volumes for who Elena is.”

The emotional segment on HBO — which takes place primarily at the Delle Donne family home in Delaware and features interviews with Delle Donne’s father, brother and wife — goes into detail on the ways that Delle Donne is able to communicate with Lizzie.

“When I wanna interact with her, I have to be in the same room right next to her,” Delle Donne tells Kremer. “Touch is everything for her. Touch is like her comfort.”

That’s why Delle Donne has made decisions about her career solely based on being closer to Lizzie. As “Real Sports” details, when Delle Donne left home in 2008 to go to college at the University of Connecticut, she broke down while saying goodbye to her big sister.

“It was awful,” Delle Donne says in the interview, through tears. “I literally got down on my knees and I was in her lap just like sobbing. And it’s weird because I always would, like, hold Liz. But, like, at that time, she really played a big sister role and kinda was rubbing my head, just holding me.”

Delle Donne was only in Connecticut for 48 hours before she showed back up at her parent’s doorstep. For those two days, she admits that she thought about harming herself.

“I didn’t wanna die,” she tells Kremer. “But I was like, ‘If I do something small that ends me up in the hospital, everybody will know that I’m not okay.’”

The episode details other struggles that Delle Donne has faced in her life, such as coming to terms with her sexuality and feeling out of place because of her height. But she makes it clear that, through it all, her relationship with Lizzie has kept her centered.

In college, she transferred from Connecticut to the University of Delaware so she could come home and visit Lizzie multiple times a week. After a successful few years with the Chicago Sky in the WNBA, she demanded a trade to the Washington Mystics in 2017. Now, she can see Lizzie much more frequently; during the summers, her parents even bring Lizzie to their vacation home in Annapolis, Maryland, which is less than an hour from Delle Donne’s house.

She might end up going overseas for the big payday one day. But for now, as she prepares for the Mystics’ regular season opener against the Connecticut Sun on Friday night, and shoulders the pressure of leading a team that is the favorite to win the WNBA title, it puts Delle Donne at ease to know that her sister is not far away.

“I think people sometimes get it wrong,” Delle Donne says in the segment. “Like, they think I’m taking care of her; it’s the other way around. She’s taking care of me.”

(Top photo: Stephen Gosling/Getty Images)

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Lindsay Gibbs is the Sports Reporter at ThinkProgress, and co-host of the feminist sports podcast, Burn It All Down. Follow Lindsay on Twitter @linzsports.

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Bryan G.

2h ago

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Fantastic article on a strong player with an amazing story! Thank you for sharing, and looking forward to more coverage like this of the WNBA.

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‘It’s a respect issue’: What’s at stake as the WNBA and its players negotiate salaries and a new CBA

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 1h ago

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Lyndsey D'Arcangelo

3h ago 5 Comments

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Gina Mizell

May 21 4 Comments

Lynx 2019 preview: And so begins a new era for a team reimagining its identity

Katie Davidson

May 20 6 Comments

Missing MVP and coach, unexpected underdog Storm attempt to engineer a repeat

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May 20 13 Comments

Connecticut Sun preview: Details behind Chiney Ogwumike’s departure and players primed to break out

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to be continued...

 

https://theathletic.com/984841/2019/05/20/unexpected-underdog-storm-missing-their-mvp-and-their-coach-attempt-to-engineer-a-repeat/

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Missing MVP and coach, unexpected underdog Storm attempt to engineer a repeat

By Alex Coffey May 20, 2019 13 

On Sept. 13, 2018, after the “WNBA Finals Champs” shirts had been distributed, after the championship trophy had been hoisted and after Sue Bird swapped her face mask for champagne-resistant goggles, she took a moment to reflect on teammate Breanna Stewart, who had just been named Finals MVP after winning the league’s most valuable player award a month earlier.

“She had goals, specific goals, and yeah, she had some individual ones, but I think she knew those individual goals, winning MVP, being dominant — or as dominant as possible — that was going to impact the team positively and probably lead us to where we are now,” Bird told The Athletic. “So I think it just speaks to Stewie. Obviously, the kid knows how to win … she’s figured it out.”

She paused, then added:

“It’s probably going to get a little harder from here, to be honest, but I think she’s ready for it.”

At that moment, Bird probably thought “harder” meant something like finding more open looks as the league made defensive adjustments to combat Stewart’s inside-outside game. Or perhaps adapting to a new wave of talent entering the WNBA.

It most certainly did not mean Stewart sitting out an entire season after rupturing her right Achilles tendon while playing for Dynamo Kursk during the EuroLeague finals on April 14, an injury that jolted the team — and the league — like an earthquake.

Five days later, Storm head coach Dan Hughes, whose defensive schemes helped grow Seattle from good to great, was diagnosed with cancer. In the span of six days, the Storm went from 2019 title favorites to underdogs.

Yes, underdogs. It may seem ludicrous to say that about the reigning finals champions, but losing Stewart means losing 21.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. It means losing a player who’s averaged 33.1 minutes per game for her career, a 6-foot-4 do-it-all stretch forward on a fairly undersized roster. In Hughes, it means losing a leader who came out of retirement to lift a team from 15-19 in 2017 to 26-8 in 2018. The timetable for his return has yet to be determined after he underwent surgery last week to remove a tumor in his digestive tract.

While the natural question might be “Where do they go from here?”, the fact is that health challenges are nothing new for this franchise. Three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson was plagued by injuries throughout her career, missing 13 games in 2008 (ankle surgery), 21 in 2011 (Achilles and hip surgeries) and 25 in 2012 (hamstring and back pain). The Storm still went 107-63 over that span, making the playoffs each year and winning a title in 2010. Bird missed the entire 2013 campaign because of a knee injury, and the Storm still made the conference semifinals.

The characters may change, but the story remains the same: Seattle knows adversity and how to adjust to it.

“Obviously you can’t replace anybody like (Stewart). She’s one of a kind,” said interim coach Gary Kloppenburg after the Storm’s first preseason game May 15. “We’re going to have to be a pressure team; pick our times where we’re trapping people, turn ’em over and get some easy buckets.

“You don’t replace somebody like that, but you can still have a system in place that allows you to be aggressive and be really competitive.”

In 2018, the Storm won the WNBA finals because they could beat you on both ends of the court, particularly with Stewart. In 2019, they’ll attempt to do the same through creative roster construction.

There’s an open spot in the starting five next to guards Bird and Jewell Loyd and forwards Natasha Howard and Alysha Clark, and who Seattle decides to put there could vary based on its opponent. Playing the Phoenix Mercury, with 6-foot-9 Brittney Griner and 6-foot-4 DeWanna Bonner? Put in veteran forward Crystal Langhorne to play alongside Howard for a more physical presence in the post. Playing the Washington Mystics? That means a faster pace and a lot of shooting. Add speedy guard Jordin Canada alongside Bird and Loyd for a lineup that can run and shoot.

Every matchup will provide a different puzzle for Kloppenburg to solve. But amid the ever-changing lineup combinations, Storm fans can take solace in the integral pieces of the 2018 championship team who will return.

Howard is coming off the best season of her career, when the 6-foot-2 forward established herself as a reliable rim protector and averaged 6.4 rebounds despite logging just 25.6 minutes per game. She shot 54.7 percent from the floor and 32.7 percent from three, and with Stewart out, Kloppenburg is likely to look to Howard to help fill the void with rebounding and perimeter shooting

Loyd, a fifth-year guard, will also be challenged to carry more of the load offensively. Last season, she posted the best rebounding (4.6) and assist (3.7) numbers of her career but saw her points (15.5) and minutes per game (29.7) decrease. Her minutes and touches will undoubtedly spike, but without Stewart to attract defensive attention, will Loyd’s offensive efficiency suffer?

“They can try to stop me from scoring, but I take pride in trying to make my teammates better,” Loyd told The Seattle Times. “For me, it’s going to be fun. This is what I want to be a part of, and this is what’s going to help me grow as a player. This is exciting for me. This is what I’ve been getting ready for since I’ve been in the league.”

Jewell Loyd (Brad Mills / USA Today)

Everyone will be asked to do a little bit more in 2019 — even a future Hall of Famer like Bird. Last season, at age 37, the veteran point guard played as if she were a decade (or two) younger, posting career-highs in field goal percentage (46.6), three-point percentage (44.8) and assists (7.1). Bird, who says retirement isn’t in her immediate future, will have to keep running the Storm offense, sinking open threes and distributing the ball effectively.

“I think at this point I’m not going to change my game dramatically,” she told High Post Hoops. “But you can always be a little smarter. You can always be a little more prepared. And if you can do things even a little better than last year, that’s an improvement.”

Clark will be counted on to play her signature brand of elite wing defense, with 2018 first-round pick Canada, Langhorne and offseason addition Shavonte Zellous, a 10-year veteran, providing depth.

For the 2018 champs — the unexpected underdogs — 2019 will be about making little changes across the board. Being a little more creative. Averaging a few more rebounds and blocks per game. Shooting slightly better from three. Bit by bit, the Storm will try to piece together their winning formula from last season with the hope that they’ll end up in the same place as they were the year before.

“From Day 1, you saw a team with intelligence and heart,” Hughes said in a postgame interview after leading his team to the 2018 title. “Never a day went by that they weren’t driven to stand here and do what we’re doing.”

The intelligence and heart are still there. The goal remains the same. But in 2019, it’s the missing pieces that will give Seattle more motivation than ever.

(Top photo: Lindsey Wasson / Getty Images)

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13  COMMENTS

Lowell T.

May 20, 3:46pm

8 likes

I love that The Athletic added a beat writer for the Storm. Looking forward to following the team through your writing this season, Alex!

Alexandra Coffey

STAFF

May 20, 9:37pm

2 likes

@Lowell T. Thanks, Lowell! Can't wait to get started.

Sarah E.

May 20, 4:33pm

7 likes

So glad we have WNBA coverage on the Athletic now! Thanks for the season preview. Is there any word about whether Tokashiki will be back this year?

Alexandra Coffey

STAFF

May 20, 9:47pm

1 like

@Sarah E. My pleasure! And no word yet... will keep you posted when we get more information! The Storm still have the rights to Tokashiki but whether or not she will play is TBD at the moment.

David H.

May 20, 4:38pm

2 likes

It’ll be an uphill battle, but a good opportunity to let the young talent develop. Go Storm!

Alexandra Coffey

STAFF

May 20, 9:47pm

3 likes

@David H. This is true - they certainly have good mentors...

William F.

May 20, 7:16pm

5 likes

Thanks Athletic for recognizing the WNBA has a place in your talented reporting. I'm a Mystics fan but I enjoy all your articles on this league. Keep up the good work

Alexandra Coffey

STAFF

May 20, 9:48pm

2 likes

@William F. Thanks for your support, William!

Jessica R.

May 20, 10:36pm

3 likes

Glad to see quality WNBA coverage on The Athletic. Looking forward to following the Storm from CT and rooting on some of my favorite former Huskies!

Wayne C.

May 21, 2:28am

3 likes

This is a great preview of what figures to be a challenging season, without the best player in the sport, and with a championship-caliber coach like Dan Hughes dealing with serious health issues. I wish Dan all the best am glad The Athletic will be covering the reigning WNBA champions the way they deserve to be covered.

Seth L.

May 21, 3:21am

4 likes

So excited to have WNBA beat writers (Storm in particular). Glad you're here.

Alexandra Coffey

STAFF

22h ago

2 likes

@Seth L. Thanks, Seth. Happy to be here!

Esi H.

20h ago

Even harder now that Sue Bird is out indefinitely with knee issues! Jordin Canada will see a LOT more play.

READ MORE

With Sue Bird sidelined, it’s time for Storm’s next generation to write their story

By  Alex Coffey

 24m ago

‘It’s a respect issue’: What’s at stake as the WNBA and its players negotiate salaries and a new CBA

Katie Strang

1h ago 17 Comments

As women’s professional sports leagues aim for long-term TV deals, social media is proving a useful tool

Lyndsey D'Arcangelo

3h ago 5 Comments

The coach’s challenge behind Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner ‘fighting for MVP of the league’

Gina Mizell

May 21 4 Comments

Lynx 2019 preview: And so begins a new era for a team reimagining its identity

Katie Davidson

May 20 6 Comments

Connecticut Sun preview: Details behind Chiney Ogwumike’s departure and players primed to break out

Molly Yanity

May 20 5 Comments

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With Sue Bird sidelined, it’s time for Storm’s next generation to write their story

By Alex Coffey 25m ago

Sue Bird will never forget Dec. 13, 1998.

It won’t be on her plaque when she’s inducted into the Hall of Fame, but it was so important to her that she circled it on her calendar in bright red pen one year later. She was marking the one-year anniversary of her season-ending ACL injury eight games into her freshman year at UConn, the first time she realized that her body wasn’t invincible.

“I will never forget that date,” Bird said to the New York Daily News in 1999. “It has really opened my eyes to the fact that I am not going to be able to play this game all my life.”

Nearly 20 years later, the date carries a complicated legacy. It marks the start of a long, tumultuous and unfinished journey toward a complete recovery of Bird’s left knee, but also the start of a transformation in her character; a transformation that won her two national championships in college, three WNBA titles with the Seattle Storm and four Olympic gold medals.

“Sue was a pretty laid-back player before all this happened,” UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma told the Daily News in 1999. “This has made her much more focused and a much more determined player. I see an urgency, and she is stronger mentally.”

At a Tuesday press conference in the basement of Seattle Pacific University, it was hard to miss the parallels between 19-year-old UConn sophomore and 38-year-old Storm legend. Both came armed with an acceptance of their respective injuries, but only because the path back to the court was laid out in front of them.

“When I think of my overall health, this guy is my one issue,” Bird said, slapping her left knee. “This guy has always been the issue, but it’s the longest relationship I’ve had in my life. I know it pretty well, and it knows me.”

When the Storm announced Bird would undergo arthroscopic surgery, it was the latest chapter in this very long relationship. In 2013, she was forced to miss the entire season after having a cyst removed in the same knee. Ten years before that, she injured the knee in the Storm’s season opener but played through the pain and started every game before undergoing surgery in the offseason.

The consistent thread here isn’t just a battered joint. It’s also the “urgency,” as Auriemma put it, not only to return — but return better than she was before.

“You never know what’s going to happen (with surgery). You have to have an awareness of that,” Bird said Tuesday. “But as an athlete, I’ve always approached it as, ‘I’m getting this to make me better. I’m getting this to extend my career.’ That’s how I felt with really every other surgery. It’s to get better and to move forward and to continue to play.”

That mentality worked in 2000, when Bird led the Huskies to a 36-1 record and their second national championship her first season after tearing ACL. It also worked in 2004, when Bird came back from knee surgery to help the Storm bring their first title to Seattle.

Of course, Bird isn’t the only cog missing in this machine. There’s also Breanna Stewart — last year’s league MVP — who tore her Achilles while playing in the EuroLeague finals on April 14, and head coach Dan Hughes, who was diagnosed with cancer the same week. For over a month, fans and media alike have been trying to conjure different starting-five iterations in hopes of compensating for the 21.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists Stewart provided per game last year. With Bird hurt, Seattle loses a dangerous perimeter threat (44.8 percent from three in 2018) with a 40.7 assist percentage (good for third in the WNBA last season).

There’s no denying that Stewart and Bird’s offensive production will be missed. But while Stewart is rehabbing four days a week with a team of specialists in California, Bird will stay in Seattle, which will allow her to contribute in a different way.

“My knowledge of the league, my experience, my knowledge of the team — of our offenses our defenses — I feel like I have the level of a coach in that knowledge,” Bird said. “What I bring is that I’ve been out there. I know the nuances and subtleties of being on the court with this team. I can bring both of those and still be able to help. I can pull (second-year point guard Jordin Canada) to the side and say, ‘You need to take a look at this’ … as if I was still out there with them.”

Bird is projected to miss the first 8-10 weeks of a season that only goes 15, and those weeks are going to be all about the intangibles — leading by example, keeping morale up and imparting her 17 years of experience onto the future of this franchise.

“It’s been extremely helpful to gain knowledge from someone who is the best to ever do it in the league,” Canada said during Tuesday’s press conference. “It helps my game improve. Just to see her mindset, the way she thinks, allows me to improve as well. So to have her by my side, whether she’s on the court or off the court, is extremely helpful. I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to be coached by someone like that.”

Jordin Canada (Jennifer Buchanan / USA Today)

Canada, Bird’s heir apparent after being selected out of UCLA fifth overall last year, struggled offensively in 2018 — shooting 35.7 percent from the field and just 18.2 percent from beyond the arc in the regular season. But she ignited during the playoffs, converting 21 of her 44 shot attempts (47.7 percent), including four of 11 from deep (36.4 percent). Canada is going to have to have a breakout season to come close to replicating Bird’s numbers — a tall order for a player just starting her second year in the league.

Another factor that remains to be seen is how opponents will defend the Storm without both Stewart and Bird. Defensive stalwarts Natasha Howard (who shot 54.7 percent from the floor and 32.7 percent from three last year in a breakout season) and Alysha Clark (39.2 percent from beyond the arc) are both viable options to contribute offensively, but it may be difficult to get open looks without Bird and Stewart there to garner defensive attention.

“We’re really going to have to zero in and execute well with the team that we have on both ends of the floor,” said interim coach Gary Kloppenburg. “We’re going to have keep the turnovers (low); we have to get a good shot every trip down. (Bird and Stewart) can kind of bail you out at certain times, and now it’s going to be more by committee — playing together as a team, playing tough defense, rebounding, playing fundamentally sound basketball on both ends of the floor.

“This is a very resilient group of players. I think that they feel like everybody’s going to discount them and count them out, but they have a lot to prove to the league and the country that will be watching the team that’s out there.”

Naturally, there are a lot of questions as Seattle begins the season with two of its title-winning starting five sidelined. Twenty years after a focused, determined Bird circled Dec. 13 on her calendar in bright red pen, we’ll find out if her teammates are cut from the same cloth.

“With every piece of adversity that’s been thrown at us already — and what’s to come — you’re going to hit some walls,” she said. “It’s just a chance to prove who you are, find out what you’re made of, show people a lot about your character.

“I think for this team this year it’s gonna be tough because we’re the defending champions and people are going to come at us in that way. But we’re not the same team. So they’re just going to have to write their own story. And that story has to be about who’s on the court, who’s able to play, and not about the ones who aren’t there.”

Bird wrote and rewrote her story in 2000, 2004, 2014. Perhaps she will again in 2020. Now it’s time for the next generation of Storm players to write theirs.

(Top photo: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

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обратим свой взляд на север. у сиеттла всё очень круто по баскетту. баскетт здесь. в том числе выигранное чимпионство под началом Аглера.

без стюарт и бёрд будет всяко тежело. лойд зарешивает.

однако до появление Сторма в лиге АБЛ сосуществовал конечно же Сиеттл Рейгн.

85304-67Fr.jpg85304-68Fr.jpg85304-69Fr.jpg85304-70Fr.jpg85304-71Fr.jpg85304-72Fr.jpg85304-73Fr.jpg85304-74Fr.jpg85304-75Fr.jpg

стоит отметить так же Венус Лейси, Синди Браун, Шалонда Енис, Тари Филлипс.

подробнее на вебсайте https://funwhileitlasted.net/2013/08/08/1996-1998-seattle-reign/

в дальнейшем Сторм придёт к колоссальному сакксессу, завоевав 3 тайтлс в суперуспешной лиге внба (в том числе под руководство коуча Крылышки Далласа Брайна Аглера), среди которых Бёрд принимает активное усавтие. в завоевании. все трёх. а е.

 

соседкам с Портланда, повезло гораздо менее, более менее. так же имеется АБЛ франчайз, андерграундно-легендарная инди-группа лоуфай-диайуай баскетболлисток Повер

85304-51Fr.jpg85304-52Fr.jpg85304-53Fr.jpg85304-54Fr.jpg85304-55Fr.jpg85304-56Fr.jpg85304-57Fr.jpg85304-58Fr.jpg85304-59Fr.jpg

также стоит отметить таких как: Маркита Олдридж, Танжа Костич, Молли Гуденбаур, Чармин Смит, Лиса Харрисон, Мичелле Марсиниак, Кокуесе Вашингтон (будущая чемпион в составе скрюстон суперкометс) и конечно Делиша Милтон. коуч Лин Дунн перейдёт тренеть Сиеттл Сторм в начале следущего веку.

подробнее на вебсайте: https://funwhileitlasted.net/2013/08/08/1996-1998-portland-power-basketball/

затем далее также в ВНБА организованная франчиза Портланд Файер, однако протянувшая лишь 3 сезоньчика, пока яблочник-чертилла пол аллен не зажопил на дальнейшее развитие спорта и будущего, с тех пор портланд страдает и мучаетца без настоящего баскетбалла, вот так, весь город, задыхаясь от лишений, катица на днище, да именно так. Сильвия Кроули поиграла в обеих командочках, отметившись монструозным мег суперданком-не-глядя (as member of Colorado Xplosion team at ABL's SDC '98, where Shalonda Enis from Seattle Reign won ASG MVP award)

sylvia-crawley-of-the-portland-fire-is-djun-2001-sylvia-crawley-of-the-portland-

smfh :dametime:

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даллас team-logo-669-50x50.png в порядке, насколько ето уместно обговаривать в сложившихся сёркомстанциях

Спойлер

мккарти жжост разумеется, особенно работает остинская связочка с мкги

 

гиперссылка на канал субскрайбимся

Спойлер

 

@

гиперссылка на лигпасс скидываемся

Спойлер

первая неделя без платно ну а так 17 за сезон иле 10 на одну команду, иле по цене 2 за игру.

 

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ГО ГО ГО ДАЛЛАС СУПЕРСТАРС СЕГОДНЯ
УНИЖАТЬ УНИЖАТЬ УНИЖАТЬ (МИННЕСОТОВСКИХ) СЕГОДНЯ

Arike_Ogunbowale___Dallas_Wings.0.jpg

ПС ДОВОЛЬНО ВШОКЕ КАК ЮСА НИДЕРЛАНДАМ 3Х3 ОТДАЛИСЬ В ОВЕРТАЙМЕ, НЕЖДАНЬЧИК, ДРУЗЬЯ (НА ФИБА СМОТРИМ)

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Ну и чё тут, ик?

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Пока проходящий какой-то Европейский чемпионат только заявляет о себе, специально для тебя нашёлся вариант. Напиши об этом.

Сделай историю.

Дундук.

Предлагаю лучше того, кто действительно способен делать бакетс.

Рикина против асов. Высшего пилотажа. Таких как я, и Лешковцева.

Изменено пользователем MuGGs

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В 27.06.2019 в 23:22, MuGGs сказал:

Ну и чё тут, ик?

chilling :hotgirl:

 

another day another dallas W yay

nothing easy

 

Untitled.png

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Интересней всего видеть лидером "Спаркс" Вадееву с 24 о. з.и., правда, в принадлежности к тому факту, что у неё всего одна игра. Если помощницы нужны, возьмите Лешковцеву, она пока не нужна на турнире, могу поручиться.

Нью-Йорк в этом году возьмут первое место. Докажут в этом году кто в США главный. Помнится, не долго шарманочка играла. Мур так и так забила уже на учёбу со всем этим.

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team-logo-669-50x50.pngteam-logo-669-50x50.pngteam-logo-669-50x50.pngторнтон он файер 1f440.png  #BeatLA

Wings for the Win team-logo-669-50x50.png#OnSomeShit

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хьюстон лосанхелес, у вас проблемы :dwaiteface: -10 на перерыве team-logo-669-50x50.png

:durantplus:качественный перфоманс от Уингс соу фар team-logo-669-50x50.png 

 

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довольно таки мощнейшее выступление, запомнившее показательном истязании нового йорка

#ROTY2019

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team-logo-669-50x50.png:durantplus:team-logo-669-50x50.png

есть первая выездная победа Вингс за долгое время (13 месяцов) :durantplus: отдельным блокбастер-сюжетом матча стала потассовочка с грайнер и последующим разбором полётов с массовыми удалениями :rudy:

team-logo-669-50x50.pngможно ли начинать говорить шо совершенный под дедлайн обмен суперветеранши уважаемой плайсанс (отдавшей команде 5+ лет) на молодую потенциально-звёздочку анигве (9ый пик 2019) приносит такие дивиденты? пока што - говорить об таком не приходитця, пока што за две игры кристине анигве покашто себя не смогла шибко проявить (не щитая вот произошедшего замеса) в игровом плане однако следует понимать шо етот ход был предназначен как стратегический, играющий в долгую перспективу и не стоит слишком уж ожидать колоссальных взрыв-перфомансев right away team-logo-669-50x50.png

 

 

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