Championship Culture Made Lynx A ‘No-Brainer’ For Free Agent Kayla McBride

A three-time WNBA All-Star entering her prime years at age 28, Kayla McBride could’ve picked any of the 12 WNBA franchises in her first taste of unrestricted free agency. A chat with four-time WNBA Champion Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve as the free agency period opened quickly made McBride’s decision an easy one: she wanted to pursue a title in Minnesota with the Lynx.

“First and foremost it’s about championships, I don’t have one in the WNBA,” McBride told media via Zoom Tuesday afternoon. “Being a part of an organization like [the Lynx], where they breed them, that’s just an obvious thing.”

Reeve wasted no time in reaching out to McBride as soon as teams were able to negotiate, even enlisting Sylvia Fowles and Napheesa Collier to pitch the former Las Vegas Aces guard. The three-time WNBA Coach of the Year sent Lynx gear all the way to Turkey and to McBride’s family in Erie, Penn.

“[Reeve] was one of the first people to hit me up,” McBride said. “It made me excited right off the bat. She sent a package over to Istanbul (where McBride plays for Fenerbahçe overseas) and everything. I could feel the love from day one.”

For Reeve, adding a star in her prime who also adds to the team’s locker room culture, was a priority this offseason.

“You win with good people,” Reeve said. “For us, the perfect world of having Kayla McBride having the complete package and being available at this time… We say ‘Timing is everything.’ so you know it was right. It felt right on both sides.”

Beyond Reeve’s pitch and the care package, McBride had her mind set solely on winning a championship when pursuing her next team. For the seven-year pro, the Lynx checked every box.

“First of all, the winning,” McBride said of what attracted her to the Lynx. “They come with an amount of respect across the league and what they’ve been able to do over the last 10 years has been unreal. They created a dynasty, and I think that being a young player and having to play against those teams; you could feel it. You could feel the energy in the building. You could feel the energy in the city around that team and this team. Automatically, as a competitor, you want to be  a part of a winning team, and I think that Coach Reeve has done a great job over the last decade that she’s been there of creating that culture, creating this environment for this team and this city. It’s something that’s really appealing, and I know that it’s a place where I can take another step in my game.

“It was kind of a no-brainer.”

McBride joins a squad built for the future around All-WNBA do-it-all forward Collier, reigning Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield, and stretch sharpshooter Damiris Dantas. This goes with out mentioning future Hall of Famer and 2017 WNBA MVP Fowles in the post, who missed the majority of the 2020 season with a calf injury.

After advancing to the WNBA Semifinals last season, McBride believes she can help take the Lynx to the next level.

“I watch a lot of basketball, period — but watching them in the bubble last year and even the year before, they’re just tough,” McBride complimented her new teammates. “They’re tough. They’re gritty. They’re competitive. It doesn’t matter who they’re playing, start-to-finish, they’re competing.”

She continued: “They play with kind of a chip on their shoulder. I feel like that kind of stuck out to me because I’ve kind of hung my hat on my entire career, that chip on my shoulder and playing with that competitive edge. It was just something that I wanted to be a part of, and I’m here to add to the players that are around us.”

The Lynx also added McBride’s collegiate teammate at Notre Dame, center Natalie Achonwa, to bolster depth in the post. Reeve has ample time between February and May to galvanize the roster even further ahead of the 2021 season. As for McBride, she returns to Istanbul this week to compete in the Euroleague Women.