The return of the WNBA All-Star Game this summer will be a welcome sight after the league canceled the event last year due to COVID-19. And speaking of happy returns, the Minnesota Lynx will be represented once more by their two best players, center Sylvia Fowles and forward Napheesa Collier. But the pairing of Fowles and Collier won’t suit up for the league’s All-Star squad this time — they will actually face off against them.
Fowles and Collier will play in the 17th-annual All-Star Game at 6 p.m. CT on July 14 at Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Fowles is in her 14th season in the league, and this is her seventh All-Star selection and fourth-consecutive nod. It is Collier’s second-straight appearance in her third season in the WNBA.
With Team USA already holding training camp in Las Vegas in July leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, the WNBA decided to roll out a new format for the mid-summer All-Star Game in 2021. The members of Team USA will battle it out with the 12 WNBA All-Stars outside of the 12-player national team roster. Fowles and Collier will be joined on Team USA by Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve, who is serving as an assistant.
In 15 games, Fowles has averaged 17.2 points (13th in WNBA), 10 rebounds, a league-leading 2.3 steals, 1.8 assists, and 1.8 blocks while shooting 63.1% from the field.
“We talk about this all the time. I am in awe of her,” Collier said of Fowles. “Especially 14 years in, it’s unbelievable what she can do night after night. She is one of a kind. It’s so fun to watch, and I’m so honored to be her teammate and be able to watch this day-in and day-out.”
Having arrived late to the start of the WNBA season while playing overseas, Collier is averaging 17.8 points (10th in WNBA), 6.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.3 assists in 12 games for Minnesota.
“Phee has evolved in many ways,” Fowles said. “To see where she’s at now three years in, it’s phenomenal.”
Outside of Fowles and Collier, a few other Lynx players received recognition for their early-season success on the court. The initial selection of the All-Stars was comprised of voting by fans (50%), WNBA players (25%), and national sportswriters and broadcasters (25%). The top-36 vote-getters who are not members of Team USA were narrowed down to 12 by WNBA head coaches, who concocted the final 12-player All-Star roster.
Two More Lynx Set to Play in Tokyo Olympics
A few days after Minnesota found out they would have three representatives — Fowles, Collier, and Reeve — on the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, the Lynx found out two additional players will be suiting up in the Tokyo Olympics beginning at the end of the month.
Achonwa, who hasn’t played for Minnesota since June 12 while recovering from an MCL sprain, is set to return to basketball activities soon and take part in her third Olympic Games for Team Canada (2012 and 2016).
“Every time I get the call to represent my country and wear a Canada jersey, it’s a tremendous honor for me,” Achonwa said in a release sent out by the Lynx. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’m going to my third Olympics. But even through a pandemic, an Olympic games delay, COVID restriction difficulties, our goal remains the same: bring a medal back to Canada.”
Carleton will be making her first appearance in the Olympics but was part of the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament team in 2020.
“I am so honored to be representing Canada and going to my first Olympic Games,” Carleton said. “It’s been a dream of mine to be an Olympian ever since I can remember, so it’s pretty surreal that it’s actually happening. I couldn’t be more excited.”