As the rest of the WNBA takes part in the month-long Olympic Break, two Minnesota Lynx players and head coach Cheryl Reeve will continue to play in the All-Star Game and the Olympic Games. Sylvia Fowles, Napheesa Collier, and Cheryl Reeve will participate in the annual All-Star Game at 6:00 pm on Wednesday before being sent off to Japan to play in the Tokyo Olympics.
“I think it’s really exciting that you get to play with so many people who are going to go down in the Hall of Fame and such great basketball players,” Collier said on Tuesday. “To learn and play with them instead of scouting and playing against them is really fun.”
The 17th-annual All-Star Game will be played between the WNBA All-Stars and Team USA — highlighted by Fowles and Collier on the court and Reeve on the coaching staff — at Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The game will be aired on ESPN and will be one of the final exhibition and preparation games played in-country before Team USA heads overseas to begin play in the Tokyo Olympics on July 26.
“There’s going to be a lot of talent on the floor, and it’s going to be a great game, so I’m excited about that,” Fowles said. “We just have to be ready for whatever game we are playing that night. … It’s not going to be easy, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Fowles and Collier Journey to All-Stars, Olympians
For Fowles and Collier, this won’t be the first time they will be taking the court in an All-Star Game. Fowles will be making her seventh career appearance, while Collier will be in it for the second year in a row.
“It’s fun being with the best players in the league and come together to take a break from the competitiveness of the season,” Collier said. “You get to just hang out, go to dinners, go to events, and (the All-Star Game) is just really fun.”
When it comes to the Olympics, Fowles has started to become accustomed to representing her country every four years, while Collier has earned the honor for the first time. Fowles will be playing for Team USA for the fourth straight Olympics, while Collier is set to take the court in 5-on-5 play for the first time of her career. She’s the youngest player on Team USA’s 12-player roster.
“I think it’s a great honor to be a part of something that’s been winning for so many years, and you don’t want to let that down,” Collier said. “Especially because I’m a new person on the team, I want to be able to come in and contribute in the way the team needs and be a sponge and learn all the people on the team who have been here before. It is a lot of pressure, but I like the pressure, and I think it makes us perform our best.”
The journey to taking part in both the WNBA All-Star Game and the upcoming Olympics has been an impressive one for two of the best players on the Lynx roster. The duo of Fowles and Collier have put together strong résumés throughout their careers, making them deserving of these opportunities. The start of this season is the most recent example.
At the midway point in the regular season, Fowles is averaging 15.9 points (16th in WNBA), 9.8 rebounds (3rd in WNBA), 2.0 steals (2nd in WNBA), 1.9 blocks (2nd in WNBA), and 1.6 assists in 19 games. While averaging 30.3 minutes a game, the veteran center is also shooting 60.8% from the field and is showing no signs of slowing down in Year 14.
“I think it’s been about being smarter with your body and making sure I micromanage the little things like hurting your ankle and tweaks here, tweaks there,” Fowles said of what has contributed to strong season so far. “Staying on top of those things have been a big part of my success.”
After missing the first few games of the year because she arrived late from overseas, Collier has hit the ground running in her third WNBA season. In 16 games, Collier is averaging a career-high 17.3 points per game (11th in WNBA), along with 6.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals (tied for 9th in WNBA), and 1.3 blocks (tied for 11th in WNBA) in 35.4 minutes a contest. She is also shooting 47.9% from the field and 89.7% from the free-throw line.
The WNBA All-Star Game will mark the start of a nearly month-long span of Fowles and Collier being recognized for their performances to this point in their careers while also holding the responsibility of representing both the WNBA and Team USA on national and global stages.
And with the duo and their head coach staying busy while the rest of the league pauses until Aug. 15, they are ready for the grind to continue over the next month. They are honored to take part in both the showcase of the WNBA’s top talent and represent some of the country’s best talent.
“To have USA across my chest and to play on the USA team is a life-long dream,” Collier said. “I’m so glad I get to do that, especially with one of my favorite teammates, Mama Syl. It’s really exciting, and I’m really honored to be here.”