Odyssey Sims is finally an All-Star.
Though the guard, who is leading the Lynx in scoring and assists this season, says she doesn’t set specific goals for herself related to milestones like All-Star appearances, there’s no denying that being named to the team was a special moment for Sims.
“This is just a surreal feeling, seriously,” she said. “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.”
Sims has emerged this season as a clearly elite two-way guard. She is the only player in the WNBA averaging more than 15 points and more than five assists per game and she frequently guards the Lynx’s opponents’ best backcourt players.
In many ways, Sims is this season who she has always been, just better. Her trademark competitiveness is on full display, but she is happier, more productive and more at home than she has been in years.
“Sometimes I just sit in my apartment and think, ‘Wow, I really can’t believe I’m a Minnesota Lynx. What?’” Sims said. “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.”
The news of being selected to the team came in the form of a text from Head of WNBA League Operations Bethany Donaphin while the Lynx were flying back from their game in Dallas, asking Sims to call her when the team landed. Upon receiving the news, Sims didn’t try to hide her excitement. This was a big deal to her. Sims’ first call after talking to Donaphin was to her mother.
Sims has a special relationship with her mother, who she calls, “My biggest critic, my biggest fan, my biggest supporter.” Sims is in constant communication with her mother and to share that moment with her was extremely special.
“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,” Sims said.
While Sims recognizes that her hard work was a huge factor in finally earning a place on the All-Star team, she is quick to shift credit to everyone who supported her, from head coach Cheryl Reeve who has invested heavily in making Sims a cornerstone of this franchise, to owner Glen Taylor, who called Sims when the Lynx were planning on trading for her to express how excited he was for her to be a part of the team, to her teammates who have “showered her with love.” Even the local media who have covered her since she has been in Minnesota got a shout-out.
Sims’ trip to the All-Star game is even more special because Lynx center Sylvia Fowles is going with her. Fowles and Sims have been the engine driving the Lynx this season and with the fantastic way their games complement one another, it is only fitting that they are headed to Vegas together.
“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,” said Sims. “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 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.”
There is an element of vindication to making the team this year as well. Sims had the worst year of her career last season in L.A. and has flipped that around to arguably her best season this year with Minnesota. It might be surreal to think that it is with the Lynx—a team that was her arch-rival for so long—that Sims makes her first All-Star appearance, but now that Sims is on the inside and sees what happens in this organization it is no surprise to her that she has reached another level.
“Being the outsider it’s like, ‘Why does Minnesota win so much?” she said. “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.”
While Sims is a naturally competitive person who leaves it all on the court, she said her approach to the All-Star game will be slightly more laid back. She won’t be hunting for that All-Star MVP trophy, though if it finds its way into her hands she wouldn’t be disappointed. Sims has finally been recognized as one of the league’s best players. She is going to give herself a chance to sit back and enjoy the moment—after the Lynx play the rest of their games before the break, of course.
“It means so much to me just from coming off one of my worst years since coming into the WNBA last year,” she said. “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 . . . it’s really a surreal feeling, I’m so, so, so, so thankful.”
For more from Odyssey, you can check out the full transcription of Julian Andrews’ conversation with Sims.