2018 WNBA All-Star Friday Notebook: Team Captains and Coaches Happy With the New Format

Candace Parker and Elena Delle Donne discuss their team selections with ESPN. Photo: WNBA Twitter.

All-Star captains Candace Parker and Elena Delle Donne discuss their team selections with ESPN. Photo: WNBA Twitter.

MINNEAPOLIS – The 2018 WNBA All-Star Game is the first in league history with captains drafting the teams and players from opposite conferences on the same team.

“Forming the team was easy for me,” Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker and Team Parker captain said Friday afternoon.  “I think it was kind of like a park atmosphere in terms of you pick the teams.  Obviously, I wanted to make sure that I had my two teammates (Nneka Ogwumike and Chelsea Gray) on my side because I don’t want to play against them.  From there, I went from there. As with Elena (Delle Donne), there are no bad picks.  They are all All-Stars here.”

Washington’s Delle Donne, Team Delle Donne captain said, “I wanted to get versatile players that can do it all. Players that I have a great rapport with and have great relationships with. Definitely wanted to get some Lynx players because we need to get the home crowd behind us,” she said of current Minnesota and former LSU teammates Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles as All-Star teammates.

“I like it,” Seattle Storm’s Dan Hughes, the Team Delle Donne coach said of the new format.  “The fact that the players are involved in putting it together, everything I have seen has been a positive growth.”

Parker and Delle Donne, along with Hughes and the Phoenix Mercury’s Sandy Brondello for Team Parker later selected Saturday’s starters:   Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowles, Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi (Team Delle Donne, the home team); Parker, Liz Cambage, Maya Moore, Chelsea Gray and Angel McCoughtry (Team Parker, the visiting team).

Saturday’s game (3:30 pm EDT, ABC) also will feature other firsts as well.

First Timers

“Sooner or later I feel that I will” fully feel the All-Star experience, said Las Vegas rookie A’ja Wilson (Team Delle Donne), the only rookie and the youngest player selected in this year’s All-Star Game.  “I have the opportunity to play with some of the best.” Seattle third-year guard Jewell Loyd (Team Parker) added, “It is one thing I can cross off the list.  It is special.  It humbles you.”

Bumping Heads

The four Lynx regulars competing against each other on opposite sides:  Augustus and Fowles (Team Delle Donne) vs. Team Parker’s Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson. Brunson was selected by WNBA President Lisa Borders to the All-Star Game as a replacement for Nneka Ogwumike who is unable to participate due to illness. It is the second consecutive summer that Brunson has been named as a replacement for a player unable to participate due to a medical issue. “At practice on the road, sometimes we play against each other,” Brunson disclosed.  “It will be fun.”  “I’m excited,” Fowles added.

First-Time Hosts

Minneapolis is hosting the WNBA All-Star Game for the first time.  “It’s been years to get it here,” Augustus pointed out.  “This is the one I’ve been waiting for. The most important thing is I don’t have to fly three or four hours like some of the other players.  I can go sleep in my (own) bed.”

Yes, She Said It

“I’ve played in 500 games…I don’t really necessarily think I’m doing anything special,” Seattle’s Sue Bird said. She will play in a record 11th All-Star Game, tying her with former Indiana star Tamika Catchings. Bird recently became the WNBA’s career assists leader and top scorer in Storm history at age 37.

Final Words

“We will eat, drink and be merry,” Lynx guard Seimone Augustus said of Friday’s Orange Carpet event and All-Star reception.

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