Web Editorial Associate
Following her 2016 WNBA season with the Dallas Wings, Plenette Pierson thought about hanging up her basketball shoes and retiring from the game after 14 seasons in the league.
But the veteran forward had one more thing she wanted to check off her bucket list before she exited the league she entered in 2003. She wanted to win one more WNBA championship.
So Pierson decided she would come back for one final season, this time in Minnesota with the Lynx, with the hopes of accomplishing that goal.
“I actually thought last year was going to be my last year, but it didn’t end the way I wanted. So when the opportunity arose to come to Minnesota, I couldn’t pass up that opportunity,” she said. “We always want to end on the top and go out on top on a good note, so that’s what my mind was set for.”
Last Wednesday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Pierson was walking down the back hallway towards the locker room following a Game 5 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks with a big smile on her face while holding a trophy she was waiting for all year.
“I was waiting for this! I’ve been waiting!”
Pierson was able to accomplish that storybook ending to her already storied WNBA career.
“This is exactly how I wanted my walk out of the league to be,” Pierson said. “Everybody is like, do you want to have some big party going out? I’m like yeah, I’m going to have it when that confetti drops from the ceiling and we win that championship. It’s amazing to be with this group and to actually fulfill the things I wanted for myself in my last year.”
The championship is the third of Plenette’s 15-year career, with the first two coming in 2006 and 2008 with the Detroit Shock. Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve was an assistant coach on that Shock team.
“I’m somebody who has been blessed to be a part of her career for three or four seasons. She’s just a joy to be around. I know when we talked about her coming here, I just wanted to give her a chance to go out on top,” Reeve said earlier in the year when talking about Pierson. “Much like when we brought Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) here, we wanted Taj to go out that way. I would like nothing more than to do that for Plenette, because that’s what she deserves.”
Pierson’s career includes stops with the Phoenix Mercury, Shock, New York Liberty, Tulsa Shock, Dallas Wings and the Lynx, where she recorded three titles and was selected as the Sixth Woman of the Year in 2007 and a WNBA All-Star in 2015.
Throughout her career, she averaged 9.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.7 steals per game in 444 career games. She ranks 29th all-time in career points (4,258), 24th in rebounds (1,834), 24th in blocks (242) and 15th in field goal percentage (43.9 percent).
Pierson also played in 49 career playoff games, where she tallied eight points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.6 blocks per game. She ranks 27th all-time in playoff rebounds (208) and 19th in playoff blocks (31).
“I knew I wasn’t going to be a 20-point scorer every night. You’re going to need someone to do the little things, and that’s what I’ve prided myself on,” Pierson said. “I think what I do is becoming extinct, as far as someone who does the little things that don’t show up on a stat sheet. I’m just trying to instill that into the young players that you have to find your role and be proud of your role.”
Pierson has some things in mind that she would like to do following her basketball playing career and in the next phase of her life, including coaching or being an agent, motivational speaker or trainer.
The 2017 season was a season Pierson envisioned when she decided to come back for one final season. It was the season and outcome she was waiting for being officially hanging up her shoes for good.
The 2017 was the storybook ending Pierson worked hard for. And it was a perfect way to wrap up her 15-year WNBA career – going out on top.
“I definitely think this league is in a stronger and better place than when I came into it,” Pierson said. “All the players that have come before me and left before me have laid out a great foundation for the younger players now. Let’s just hope they continue to build and help the next generation of younger players.
“I haven’t had a break from basketball, the only time I’ve had a break was because of an injury. I’m ready for it all and see what the next part of my life brings.”