The WNBA has spoiled its fans with talented centers since its inception in 1997.
We’ve been enthralled by Lisa Leslie, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Tina Charles, Candace Parker, Brittney Griner, Liz Cambage and of course, Sylvia Fowles.
Like the league’s large supply of expert post play, Fowles’ greatness doesn’t run thin, either.
Fowles gave us one glimpse of her greatness on May 23, 2018, when she recorded 23 points and 20 rebounds in the Lynx’s 76-68 win over the Dallas Wings. Fox Sports North will re-air Fowles’ 20-20 game on Sunday, May 31, at 6 p.m. CT, but the game deserves some further context before we relive one of Fowles’ many accomplishments.
The Wings boasted Cambage on their roster in that 2018 game, but as we’ve learned countless times, even Fowles’ most skilled peers can’t always diminish her impact.
This was just the second game of the Lynx’s 2018 regular season, which began with a one-point loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. Fowles, the defending league and Finals MVP, recorded an impressive 15 points and 12 rebounds against the Sparks but also committed a game-high six turnovers. A redeeming performance against Dallas was expected of Fowles, but its extent was still eye-opening.
Before that May 23 game, only 18 20-point, 20-rebound games had been recorded in league history. Fowles had accomplished the feat twice with the Chicago Sky but had yet to do so with the Lynx. The four-championship franchise had never witnessed one of its players put up a 20-20 game. Leave it to Fowles to take the franchise to yet another new height.
Fowles recorded six points and five rebounds in the first quarter and played a large part in the Lynx holding the Wings to just 25.9% shooting in the opening frame. Cambage was held to two points and just two field-goal attempts in the game’s first 10 minutes.
The Lynx held a 21-17 lead after the first quarter, but havoc began to sink in for the Wings in the second quarter.
The Wings shot 2-for-13 from the field in the second quarter and managed just four points, all of which came from Cambage who was just 2-for-6 in the quarter. Meanwhile, Fowles was racking up 10 more points, seven more rebounds and three steals as her plus-minus rating continued to surge.
The Wings found their footing in the second half and eventually narrowed the Lynx’s 27-point halftime lead to eight before the final buzzer sounded, but Fowles put up a six-point, two-rebound, two-steal fourth quarter when Dallas posed a threat.
Fowles’ 23 points and 20 rebounds stole the limelight of that game, but her defensive effort was incredibly noteworthy, too. Fowles posted a plus-20 plus-minus rating while Cambage’s 7-for-14 shooting night and inability to contain Fowles earned her a minus-15 rating.
After the win, Fowles was quoted by the Star Tribune, saying, “This is going to be interesting how they guard me this year. I pretty much destroyed a lot of teams last year. I have to be ready for whatever they throw at me. I like those challenges. They keep me on my feet.”
We’ve since seen Fowles’ masterful post skills impact the way interior play is officiated. This game, along with her overall impact on the WNBA, should put her at the top of the list of greatest centers to ever play — and we know how just elite that list is.