By DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer
It’s been an eventful week for the Chicago Sky with huge road wins over Connecticut and New York as well as a visit with former President Barack Obama.
The Sky went 2-1 on a three-game road trip, edging out the Sun and Liberty after a narrow loss to Washington. Chicago managed to overcome New York’s second career triple-double from Sabrina Ionescu with a last-second 3-pointer from Courtney Vandersloot.
Before embarking on the trip, the Sky spent about 20 minutes with Obama in his Chicago office. The meeting was organized by the team owners group.
“It was amazing. I know him because he’s from Illinois,” Candace Parker said. “The first time I met him I was 14. Seeing him was cool. “
Chicago coach James Wade, one of three black male head coaches in the WNBA, was moved by the encounter.
“Once he walks into the room, you’re impressed,” he said. “All of these feelings have arisen since he changed the way you think. He gave you hope for what you can imagine and what your children can imagine.
“All of this is revealed when he speaks to you. Having that feeling that there was something you can’t put into words.
Wade and the players said Obama talked about many of their strengths and weaknesses.
“He knows the players. He told them how they played and what they were doing,” Wade said. “He’s not just a basketball guy, but he’s a WNBA fan. He’s a fan of Chicago Sky. Knowing that he’s watching us and knowing our players is pretty cool.”
1. Las Vegas (11-2): The Aces continue to be league class with the dominating inside-out combination of A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum.
2. Connecticut (10-4): The Sun plays three games this week with matchups against Atlanta, Seattle and Washington. Connecticut is still looking to become more consistent on the defensive end without Jasmine Thomas (ACL).
3. Chicago (9-4): The Sky have won five of their last six games and Emma Meesseman is a big reason why. The free agent signee averaged 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists last week.
4. Washington (9-6): The Mystics got scared when Elena Delle Donne had a tight back in a win over Chicago. The team has been cautious with its return this season after missing all of last year. In his absence, Myisha Hines-Allen stepped in to help fill the void.
5. Seattle (8-5): The Storm have been on a roll lately, winning three straight behind Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd. The two have combined to average over 47 points per game over the winning streak.
6. Atlanta (7-6): The Dream have lost two straight and have a tough week ahead with road games against top teams in Connecticut and Chicago.
7. Phoenix (5-8): Three straight wins lifted the Mercury from the bottom of the standings. Next week is the games in Washington, Indiana and Dallas.
8. Dallas (6-7): The Wings have struggled at home this season with a 1-4 record and hope to change that when Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles all come to Dallas this week.
9. New York (5-9): Sabrina Ionescu has been a big reason for the Liberty’s success lately as they went 4-2 in their last six games. She averaged 24.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists during that span and tied the WNBA record with her second career triple-double on Sunday against Chicago.
10. Los Angeles (5-8): A coaching change didn’t immediately help the Sparks, who were routed in their only game last week. Having practice time under Fred Williams will hopefully help the Sparks improve on defense.
11. Indiana (4-12): The Fever snapped a five-game skid with a win over Minnesota thanks in part to No. 2 pick NaLyssa Smith. She has been a bright spot for the team this season and is part of the talented young core around which the franchise is building.
12. Minnesota (3-11): The Lynx lost center Sylvia Fowles indefinitely to a knee injury last week. Fowles is playing his final season in the WNBA this year.
Seattle’s Breanna Stewart has been named AP Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks. Stewart averaged 25.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists to help the Storm to three wins. Ionescu from New York and Wilson from Las Vegas also received votes.
The Phoenix Mercury had a meeting with State Department officials on Monday to learn more about the Biden administration’s efforts to secure the release of Brittney Griner from Russia.
“Knowing the State Department at the highest level, from US President Joe Biden to the team working to bring back all wrongfully detained Americans, gives us a lot of confidence that they are working there,” said Diana Taurasi, guard of Mercury. said in a team statement.
A documentary (“Unfinished Business”) about the New York Liberty debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival on Monday. The Liberty is the only original WNBA franchise to not win a title. The film gave a behind-the-scenes look at the team from last year. as well as assemblages of footage and interviews with many former Liberty greats like Teresa Weatherspoon.
“It was great to be part of this movie and have an evening with this group,” Ionescu said on the red carpet ahead of the premiere. “As the title of the film suggests, we still have work to do.”
Storm in Liberty, Sunday. The Storm visits New York in what is most likely Sue Bird’s final appearance in her hometown as a player. Bird said this will likely be his last year in the WNBA.
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