A day of 'weirdness', not complaints, for two critical Lynx

Napheesa Collier and Sylvia Fowles are focused on what they can control ahead of Minnesota's 2020 season in Bradenton

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Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles (34) shoots during the WNBA game between the Minnesota Lynx and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on July 06, 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

Positivity and perseverance have been pillars of success for the Minnesota Lynx during the past 10 years.

2020 is no exception.

On Tuesday, the Lynx were one of the 11 WNBA teams to arrive at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida where they will reside during their 22-game season.

Many players took to social media where they shared their disapproval with the “clean site” upon their arrival. Players reported finding bedbugs, mousetraps, failing shower drains and overall dissatisfaction with the site.

Napheesa Collier and Sylvia Fowles, two of the Lynx’s three captains, had a different outlook after their differing first-day experiences.

“I just want to make sure that I don’t try to complain as much,” said Fowles during a Zoom call with media members on Wednesday. “Not everybody is going to be happy, and you have to pretty much take the punches as you roll.”

Fowles, a 34-year-old veteran entering the 13th year of her career, shared she’s staying at The Lodge, one of the three housing sites for players.

“I don’t have any issues,” Fowles said. “I’m in a lodge. But with that said, too, I think I’m just pretty easygoing; it don’t take much to please me.”

Collier confirmed the league held a call on Wednesday in which players were allowed to address their concerns. The second-year player is residing in a “villa” where she said her experience “so far has been good.”

Neither player shared complaints about flying commercial from Minneapolis to Florida when asked whether there were thoughts about flying charter. Rather, they described the “weirdness” all teams are experiencing.

“I mean, flying was… it was weird,” Collier said. “It’s different from what we’re normally doing. You have to be very cautious just like you do anytime you go out, wear a mask, make sure you wash your hands, they were sanitizing the planes, you have to wear your mask the whole plane ride. I wasn’t aware of us taking a charter. I don’t know if that was in the plans at all. But yeah, it’s different.”

Fowles was germ-conscious before the spread of COVID-19 but is still getting accustomed to wearing a mask everywhere.

“I’m pretty OCD, so me wiping down my seats and stuff on the plane was something I was doing even before COVID hit,” Fowles added. “It is weird to have to remind yourself to wear masks, which I hate.

“But you don’t think about those things because you just want to get back to what’s normal for us, and that’s not masks.”

The league won’t be getting back to normal anytime soon. Games will be played without fans, guests will be limited at the clean site and the Lynx won’t have access to their typical Mayo Clinic Square facilities.

But Collier and Fowles know their team isn’t the exception.

Fowles said she’ll cling to keeping a positive mindset while delving into the craziness of the 2020 season.

“It starts with our captains and our coaches just making sure these younger players or these new, incoming players to the Lynx understand this is not normal, it’s not normal for anyone, but you pretty much have to roll with it,” Fowles said. “We don’t want to be that team that complains. We want to try to work things out as much as possible, and if it’s out of our control, we just have to go with it and suck it up.”

Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier (24) during the WNBA game between the Minnesota Lynx and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on July 06, 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

“It is really crazy, and just like Syl said, there are so many things that are out of our control right now; we can’t control the things that are going on in the world,” Collier said. “But we can control our attitude.

“Like she said, we don’t want to be the team that’s complaining. Everyone is in the same exact situation. There’s nothing we can do about it, we’re doing our best, we’re here to play, which is what we all wanted, so you’ve just got to stay positive. Especially, like she said, as captains, we have to lead for our team, we have to set a good example. So we need to make sure that everyone is having this same mindset because if you’re complaining, then us as a team, we can get ahead because while you’re busy doing that, we’re practicing, we’re making the best of the situation.”

But the complaints of bedbugs, mousetraps and insufficient utilities reported by some players negate the idea that “everyone is in the same exact situation.”

Lynx guard Lexie Brown has acknowledged the discrepancies in housing conditions since arriving in Bradenton. But Brown, like many players, has also called out the news outlets and reporters who are only interested in covering the league’s controversial news.

As captains, Karima Christmas-Kelly, Collier and Fowles are navigating the difference between “complaining” and advocating. Not just for themselves, but for social justice, with Collier saying that it’s “really important that we just keep pushing the narrative” even amid reporting on the games themselves.

That doesn’t mean either of them are shying away from living up to the high standards the Lynx set every year.

“As far as roster-wise, I’m very happy with the pieces that we have,” Fowles said. “Cheryl did a really good job making sure she communicate on every level before she brought everybody in. Like Phee said, we get along already, the chemistry is already good, and I think a lot of that has to do with we just goofy, and we want to play and we want to play to the best of our ability. I’m looking forward to seeing what this group should do this year.”