An All-Star Conversation With Odyssey Sims

After Odyssey Sims was named to the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game, our Julian Andrews chatted with the Lynx guard about her reaction to being selected, what has worked so well this season, what it’s like to be joined at the game by Sylvia Fowles and more. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity but is largely complete. Check it out!

***

Julian Andrews (@julian_andrews_): Hi Odyssey, how are you?

Odyssey Sims (@Lucky_Lefty0): I’m good, how are you?

JA: I’m good, thanks for taking the time to talk!

OS: No problem!

JA: So, just to start off, what are your initial feelings, what does it feel like to be named an All-Star.

OS: Ah, this is just a surreal feeling, seriously. Just to be an All-Star and to be with Minnesota definitely makes it more valuable to me. I’m really excited, I’m thrilled. When I got the news the other day I was really really excited.

JA: Yeah, what was your reaction when you heard the news? Who told you?

OS: We got a call from the league office, I think it was Bethany [Donaphin], she texted me because we were on the plane and she said, ‘Hey, I’m from the WNBA All-Stars give me a call,’ called her as soon as I could and she was like, ‘Hey just wanted to let you know you’re an All-Star, we’ll be reaching out to you,’ and I was like ‘Oh my goodness, on my birthday, thank you so much,’ she was like ‘No, congratulations!’ I was really, really excited.

JA: So, who was the first person you called to let know? Who was the first person you talked to about it?

OS: My mother of course. I was like, ‘Hey just want you to know I’m an All-Star, not going to announce until Monday but I just got the call,’ so she was really excited. My mom has been a fan of me since I picked up the basketball. Really, really hard on me, my biggest critic, my biggest fan, my biggest supporter. My mother is everything, just for her to, you know, she told me ‘That’s why I stay on you so much, that’s why you know, hard work pays off, stay in the gym,’ she’s always preaching to me every other day so for it to pay off and to take her words into consideration like I do every day definitely means a lot.

JA: That’s awesome. How long has this been a goal for you?

OS: I don’t really like to set milestones or goals, but I knew after the last—this is my sixth year—my last two, being with L.A., I thought maybe I’ll be an All-Star at some point. I knew it was coming I just didn’t know when, but I feel like I just had to be in the right situation for it to happen and I was put in the right situation. Credit to Cheryl [Reeve] for allowing me to be here, be a part of this great organization, Glen Taylor for reaching out to me when the trade happened. For him to call me personally really meant a lot. Just for them to really get it done, I’m really, really, excited.

Sometimes I just sit in my apartment and think, ‘Wow, I really can’t believe I’m a Minnesota Lynx. What?’ I never would have thought. Just being a winning organization, [I thought] they don’t want someone like me. I’m a competitor, I work hard, but just my demeanor on the court, some people misinterpret it, just being like, ‘Why you always look so mean on the court?’ Now I get, ‘Why you always look so happy on the court? I love to see you smile!’ When my dimples show, that means I’m really, really, really, really happy. It’s definitely showed all season since I’ve been here since day one.

JA: Obviously, the opportunity and the happiness is huge, but what has worked so well for you this season to be able to not only be so productive but then get this recognition?

OS: Once again I want to give credit to Cheryl and the assistant coaches Walt, Shelly and Plenette. They’re really all about player development. Before practice everyone has a scheduled time, after practice if you want to get more work, anytime I want to say, ‘Hey Walt, hey Shelly, hey Cheryl can I watch film on my missed shots, how can I improve?’ We really buy into what’s there and we’re all about improvement . . .

Whatever we need to work on we work on it in practice and we make sure we get it done. Doesn’t always happen in the game but for the most part we really try to focus on everything that we worked on . . . Being the outsider it’s like, ‘Why does Minnesota win so much?’ It’s kind of like how UConn girls win so much playing for Geno, you never really know you just think, ‘Dang, they win so much, dang why they always go to the championship?’ Same with Minnesota, it’s like, ‘Ugh, Minnesota is back in the finals, my goodness.’ Now to be a part of it, now I understand why. How Cheryl conducts her practices, what we do with player development, breakdowns, watching film, everything is so structured here and to be a part of it really means a lot to me.

JA: So, what part of your game, in this talk of improvement, are you the proudest of? Or what improvements are you the proudest of?

OS: Just my jump shot, my being able to—in my Cheryl voice—bounce, bounce, raise. She talks a lot about that on other teams like, ‘Hey, they’re really good on bounce bounce raise.’ That’s a one or two dribble pull-up. She told me there’s probably about a month ago, ‘Hey, what player on this team is able to score coming off the screen?’ and I looked at her and I kind of rubbed my head and I was about to say Seimone but she’s not playing right now, I was like, ‘I don’t know!’ and she was like, ‘You!’ I laughed, we kind of laughed about it. She was like, ‘When you come off the screen, look for your shot.’ She’s not saying every time but because of how teams are playing me, not letting me get into the paint as easy, she was like, ‘You have to look for that more.’ Since she’s told me that I’ve really improved my game just on having a consistent midrange, and it’s definitely showed over the last five, six games.

I’m getting that in the back of my mind—always look for your shot. She told me, ‘If you don’t have your shot—I want you to always think score first—but if not make sure you draw and kick,’ and I’ve been finding my teammates, being able to know exactly where they are. That’s helped me too.

JA: It seems like you’ve developed a lot of chemistry with Syl, also, with her as a screener and then you passing to her as well. Is it special to make the team with her?

OS: It is special. I love Syl, Syl is one of the best teammates I’ve had in my career. Always on you but in a good way like, ‘Come on y’all we got this, come on y’all we need a little more.’ She tells me when she sets screens for me when I’m coming off a pin down, ‘Curl! Curl!’ She’ll let me know what to do, and that helps me so much. Even if I curl and I don’t have my shot, ‘Hey! Hey I’m rolling! Next time.’ You know what I mean? Syl is not a selfish player obviously, but even if I miss her I can always come to her and be like, ‘Hey Syl, sorry I missed you,’ or if I throw a bad pass I’m like, ‘I need to throw it up next time.’

When we come out of timeouts, when we draw up a play, Syl always makes sure, ‘Hey we’re on this side, hey you over there.’ With her being a center and her being able to just tell me that . . .  that’s really helped me as well. Sometimes I get a little unselfish and I pass it to her when I probably could have shot it, Syl is like, ‘Shoot that! Why did you pass it to me?’

It’s one of those things where it’s like, ‘Dang, my teammates really want what’s best for me.’ They always want me to think about myself first, and I’m not saying that in a selfish way, but just in a way where like, you can score, you can do what you do best. Syl always tells me, ‘Don’t worry about me.’ Even if I miss, ‘Don’t worry about me.’ We know the ball is always going to come back around, I know on the next one I’m going to get her. We definitely have a really good connection and I really, really love Syl. She’s like the mom on the team.

JA: Obviously, being an All-Star starter is probably the goal, but is there something nice about being recognized by the coaches, who know the game so well?

OS: Yes, it means so much to me just from coming off one of my worst years since coming into the WNBA last year, and to be doubling my points and leading the team in assists and really just to be able to help this team, give them what Cheryl wants really means a lot. I’m just really thankful and blessed for this opportunity just for the coaches to recognize my play, my value, that means a lot to me as well. I can’t thank them enough. I thank everyone that voted for me, everyone that even had a little say-so, media, you as well, it’s really a surreal feeling, I’m so, so, so, so thankful.

Obviously being a starter is my goal but just to be an All-Star, that’s a start for me. All-Star guard, to have that by my name really, really means a lot, so I give credit to everyone who voted, everyone who even had any opportunity to be like, ‘Sims should be on the team. She deserves it.’ It definitely means a lot. Cheryl texted me yesterday, wishing me happy birthday and telling me, ‘You deserve to be an All-Star, I’m so, so proud of you,’ so it just means a lot, and my teammates just showering me with love, [Aaron] Freeman (Lynx PR), him as well, ‘How does it feel? First time All-Star!’ I still get chills just thinking about it, I know it’s not here yet but still. We still got games to play so I’m focused on that first of course.

JA: Totally. You’re a pretty competitive person…

OS: Yes!

JA: How is that going to translate to the All-Star game? Are you going to go for MVP?

OS: That’s not really a goal of mine. I’ve never done this before, so I don’t know. I want to get a feel, just for me, just to be recognized as an All-Star, if I get MVP that’s cool, if this and that happens I’m O.K. with that, but I wouldn’t say that I’m going in thinking, ‘I’ve got to get MVP, I’ve got to do it.’ If it happens, cool, if not, I’m perfectly fine.

JA: What part of the weekend are you most looking forward to?

OS: First of course the All-Star game… Just to be a part of it and to be around all the WNBA players, my old teammate Britney [Griner], it definitely means a lot, and I’m soooooo excited. I’m just looking forward to playing in the All-Star Game, having fun and just meeting great people and really being around other WNBA players. Even some that I don’t know as well. Just having fun and showing my smile, continuing to smile the rest of this summer.

JA: Awesome, well thanks again Odyssey and thanks for taking the time to talk.

OS: Thank you!