Sylvia Fowles gave an emotional valedictory to the 12.134-strong crowd in the aftermath of the Lynx’s match against the Storm over the weekend. The Target Center was, perhaps, more engaged than at any other time during the set-to, a losing effort that reflected the hosts’ relative lack of competitiveness throughout; they held the lead after scoring the first basket, but needed all of 12 seconds to give it up, and then spent their way to a 26-point drubbing looking at the backsides of the green and white. As a send-off for the eight-time All-Star prior to retirement, it was most certainly far from fitting.
Don’t tell that to Fowles, though. She was all smiles as she welcomed well wishes that included former teammates and even Storm notables. Clearly, her fiery countenance on the court and friendly demeanor off it has made admirers of peers. And if she’s considered among the best of the best in the Women’s National Basketball Association, it’s because she will be leaving behind a trail of personal and team successes. If nothing else, her two championships, and Finals Most Valuable Player awards in both, prove her capacity to turn winners into a juggernaut.
Indeed, the Lynx were already accomplished before Fowles came on board in 2015. That said, she cemented the status of the starting unit — which included Maya Moore, Lindsey Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson, and Seimone Augustus — as the most feared in recent memory. It’s just too bad that it broke up just as she reached the pinnacle of the sport. The first three were gone by 2018, and in their place came new blood and, not coincidentally, a revolving door of supposed vital cogs. She remained a stabilizing force, but not even her consistency could mask the obvious talent drop, not to mention change in the league’s style of play to the pace-and-space type that discounted the role of post players.
Has time passed Fowles by? The answer is subject to debate. On one hand, her numbers remain more than respectable; at 36, she still possesses the skill set to make a difference while burning rubber. On the other, it’s fair to argue that the game is passing her by. There’s a reason she has not launched a single three-point attempt since being chosen second overall in the 2008 draft, but the reason is a double-edged sword, and can be said to limit her effectiveness on the floor. In any case, there can be no second-guessing her place in history; her cup is overflowing, and she’s ready to take a sip at her convenience.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.