The champagne aroma wafting from her headband, the crystal trophy in her hands, the effervescent smile on her face, all of these things gave Sylvia Fowles away. Sitting out half a season is torture, she was saying, it’s misery, it’s agony.
“I wouldn’t recommend anybody sitting out,” Fowles said. “… It’ll drive you crazy.”
It’s easy to appreciate how difficult it is for a world-class athlete, a two-time Olympic medalist, to watch a half-season of her prime tick by while she sits idle, hoping to force a trade. But Fowles advising against holding out is a little like Colonel Sanders swearing off chicken. C’mon, Sylvia, fess up: Agony or not, wasn’t sitting out half a season worth it?
“It was,” the Lynx’s center said, smiling. “No doubt.”
Nothing like a championship trophy, especially one she was so responsible for earning, to bring out the truth. Fowles, who sat out half the season to convince Chicago to trade her, was commanding on both ends of the Target Center floor Wednesday, scoring a game-high 20 points, corralling 11 rebounds and playing a central role in the Lynx’ smothering interior defense, an effort that forced 21 turnovers, held Indiana to 35.7 percent shooting — and earned her the Finals MVP crystal.
“She definitely dominated us, throughout the series, throughout all of them,” credited Indiana forward Tamika Catchings, Fowles’ teammate on two Olympic teams. “So yeah, I’m proud of her.”
Fowles is proud of herself, too, after an unexpected flop in Game 4, a five-point, foul-plagued hiccup that interrupted her streak of stellar playoff performances. Even coach Cheryl Reeve bluntly listed “we need more from Syl” as her No. 1 adjustment in the series-deciding game, a call-out that had the calculated effect.
“That stuff gets you motivated,” Fowles said. “Me being a professional, I know I have to be on the floor, that’s why I’m here. I think after Game 4, I was challenged. I told [Reeve], she knows how to push me, and it showed tonight.”
It was a performance Fowles had all but given up on less than three months ago, when the Lynx failed three times to complete a trade with the Chicago Sky, the team that drafted her second overall in 2008 and developed her into a two-time Defensive Player of the Year. “I just had to believe, followed my gut and prayed and prayed and prayed,” she said. “I was in California for the Fourth of July, and I thought that the deal was going to go through. … And nothing happened. At that point, I pretty must gave up all hope.”
The trade finally happened three weeks later.
“I had to adjust to them — where they’re going to be on the floor, how I get the ball, where they want the screens to be set,” Fowles said. “And they also had to adjust to me.”
It looked Wednesday like the adjustment is complete.
As she was dousing her new teammates in champagne, she declared, “This completes my resume.”
Everything was just as she imagined it would be.