Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.
Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles became the WNBA’s all-time leading rebounder Tuesday night, as the Lynx fell 90-66 to the Seattle Storm in Bradenton, Florida.
Fowles, 34, opened the WNBA season on Sunday with 18 rebounds, leaving her just seven short of the record. She got her seventh rebound with 3.9 seconds left in the second quarter off of a miss from the Storm’s Breanna Stewart. That gave Fowles 3,357 rebounds for her career, which began in 2008 in Chicago, after she was the No. 2 overall draft pick out of LSU.
“It still feels surreal at this moment,” Fowles said after the game, “but I think I’ll have time for it to soak in tomorrow and appreciate all the hard work I’ve put in the last 13 [seasons].”
Fowles entered Tuesday averaging 15.8 points and 9.8 rebounds in her career. She finished the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds, her 165th career double-double, and 3,361 boards. Among the league’s all-time top 10 in rebounding, Fowles, Indiana’s Candice Dupree (No. 8 at 2,947) and Los Angeles’ Candace Parker (No. 9 at 2,704) are the only three players active this season.
“As far as rebounding, I think it pretty much sums up who I am,” the 6-foot-6 Fowles said earlier Tuesday. “Growing up, that was me. I was always that defensive player.”
Fowles passed former Lynx teammate Rebekkah Brunson, who is now an assistant coach for the Lynx and finished her career with 3,356 rebounds. Brunson spent the first six years of her career in Sacramento and the last nine with Minnesota.
“I’m really proud of Syl,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I got to be part of so many of those rebounds. Just the relentlessness they both play with … this has been invaluable to our franchise.
“I know how incredible Rebekkah Brunson was at rebounding, so it’s just kind of a cool moment for our franchise, with Rebekkah being on staff and able to be here to hand off the lead, so to speak. I know Rebekkah is really proud it’s Sylvia Fowles who is passing her.”
Five years ago this week, Fowles was traded to Minnesota after sitting out the first part of the season to force the deal after playing seven seasons in Chicago. The Lynx won their third WNBA title that year and won again in 2017, when Fowles was the league’s MVP.
“The trade was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” Fowles said, “and probably one of the hardest decisions as well, having to sit out half a season. But I’m glad I stuck to my guns, and I ended up in a great place.”