Professional Basketball

Minnesota’s Sims, Collier selected to first All Star game


When the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. CT at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada today, representing the Minnesota Lynx will be two-first time All-Stars in Odyssey Sims and Napheesa Collier, to go along with six-time All-Star Sylvia Fowles.

None of the Lynx players were selected as starters this year, a dramatic departure from past years which featured the likes of Fowles, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore as All-Star starters.

“I don’t know what to expect. It’s my first time so I’ll just go and have fun, play the game, and come back here ready to work,” said Sims.

“It would have been better with a win going into All-Star break, but we’ll be fine. We got a little break to relax, get time off and then get back to business,” Sims said referring to the Lynx 79-71 loss to the Washington Mystics on Wednesday which brought her team to a 10-10 record on the season.

Minnesota Lynx rookie forward Napheesa Collier makes her first All Star appearance today in Las Vegas. Photo by Abe Booker III/Sportspage Magazine

Collier was not originally selected to the team but was added by WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert this week as a replacement for Las Vegas Aces A’ja Wilson, who is injured.

“I was really excited. I knew it was possible after A’ja got hurt. I was hoping it was me [who would be picked], so when I got that call, I was over the moon,” said Collier.

When asked about her expectations of the experience, Collier said, “I think it’s just going to be really cool. This is my first experience so going down there. It will be awesome to see so many great players on the court at the same time. Obviously to be on the same team as my teammates now is going to be a lot of fun.”

Collier was part of a first ever WNBA All-Star trade when Wilson, one of the team captain’s, traded New York Liberty’s Tina Charles to Elena Delle Donne, the other captain, for Collier. This put all three Lynx players on the same team.

The other trade was for the coaching staffs. Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer and Mystics head coach Mike Thibault were also traded. Laimbeer will coach Wilson’s team while Thibault will coach Delle Donne’s team. The move makes sense as two captains play for their respective coaching staffs.

Being a first-time All-Star, Collier asked her veteran teammate, Fowles, for some advice on clothing for the red carpet event during the weekend.

“Syl [Fowles] and I were talking about our outfits. I’m more worried than her because she’s been through this a few more times. Little things like that are new to me, so I’m really excited to go down there and see what it’s all about,” said Collier.

Minnesota Lynx guard Odyssey Sims and center Sylvia Fowles will also be teammates during their All Star appearance in Las Vegas today. Photo by Abe Booker III/Sportspage Magazine

Fowles, meanwhile, has a different outlook on the All-Star experience than her younger teammates. She was first selected in 2009, and then added 2011, 2013, 2017, 2018 selections in addition to this year.
“It’s not easy to make All-Star,” said Fowles. “You’ve got so much talent across the league, so to be able to go back again for the sixth time is truly an honor. But at this point, I feel like I’m too old, but at the same time you want to go out and give the fans what they want.”

As far as the game itself, Fowles is happy to perform at the minimum level and give her teammates the balance of the minutes. Yet she knows it is a balancing act in order to keep the fans happy.

“I’m really there to root people on. Thank you fans for inviting me, I appreciate it,” she said. “I’m happy that all three of us are on the same team. My main focus right now is my teammates and making sure they have a good time and that they enjoy themselves. I heard that they want to play, so they can take my minutes. I’m just trying to enjoy myself.”

Fowles reiterates that she believes that getting selected to the All-Star game is a high honor and does appreciate it, though her main concern is that she gets her body the rest it needs to finish the rest of the season on a good note.

In her previous five trips to the All-Star game, Fowles maintains that her first selection, 2009, is her favorite one.

“My favorite one is the first one just because you have the Lauren Jackson’s, Lisa Leslie’s and Tina Thompson’s. They were my idols that I looked up to coming into this game, and it was also one of my best ones,” said Fowles.


Chicago Sky’s Diamond DeShields defeated Connecticut Sun’s Jonquel Jones in the WNBA Skills Challenge final round on Friday night. Minnesota’s Sims and Collier failed to advance to the final round. Connecticut Sun’s Shekinna Stricklen won the three-point contest also on Friday night.

Today’s 2019 WNBA All-Star Game will be nationally televised on ABC with tipoff scheduled at 2:30 p.m. CT.

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