For the record, as emphatically as Sylvia Fowles is apt to be about anything, the answer is no. Absolutely not. When it comes to last season's WNBA season, played inside the bubble in Bradenton, Fla., she holds no nostalgia.
"There's nothing about the bubble I miss," she said Sunday, after the first Lynx training camp practice at their facility at Mayo Clinic Square.
She might have personal reason for this.
Last year was not a fun season for Fowles, who is used to being, quite literally, the center of everything on the basketball court. Until last season, Fowles had not missed a game in the four-plus seasons since joining the team, via trade, midway through the 2015 season. That was a stretch that included two WNBA titles for the Lynx, one a 2017 MVP and two WNBA Finals MVP awards for Fowles.
Last season was different.
Fowles entered the season in great shape. But, early on, she hurt her right calf. She tried to return but, quickly, hurt it again. Out the final 13 games of the regular season, she tried to return in the playoffs but played less than 20 minutes in a second-round victory over Phoenix before her season ended.
For the most part, it was a lost season. At least for Fowles. She appeared in seven regular-season games. The Lynx were 5-1 in games she played injury-free.
The Lynx? They rallied. They were the league's most efficient offense team down the stretch of the regular season. They got an unexpected Rookie of the Year performance out of Crystal Dangerfield, a slump-free sophomore season from Napheesa Collier while finishing fourth in the league and advancing to the WNBA semifinals.
Forced to the sidelines, she became more of a coach, a mentor. After Sunday's first practice, coach Cheryl Reeve joked that Fowles' main job became trying to keep her calm on the sidelines. "And I'd be anxious to shed that role as fast as I possibly could," she joked.
"It was extremely hard last year to have a different approach, to be on the sidelines, to take a different point of view," Fowles said.
After an offseason's worth of work, Fowles said her calf is 98% healthy, "Which is pretty much back to normal."
She spent the season shuttling between her Florida home and Minneapolis, where her progress was monitored. She hit the court running Sunday. Now 35, Fowles is the only player remaining from the 2017 team that won a fourth WNBA title; two of her teammates then, Rebekkah Brunson and Plenette Pierson, are now Lynx assistants. She is the only player over 30 on a team starting camp with championship aspirations. Kayla McBride, Aerial Powers and Natalie Achonwa are new faces added through free agency. Dangerfield had not really ascended to ROY status by the time Fowles left the lineup last year.
It's a new team.
"I'm just happy we do have some pieces we've been missing for the last couple years," Fowles said. "It's going to be fun."
Reeve will work to re-introduce Fowles into an offense that ran so well down the stretch last year without her; Reeve does not anticipate much trouble there. She envisions more space for Collier and McBride, loads of pick and roll opportunities with Dangerfield. Fowles' return will mean an upgrade to defense, which sagged last year without her, particularly on the defensive boards, where the Lynx ranked near the bottom in the league. Getting the league's career rebounding leader will help.
Reeve has also convinced Fowles that fewer minutes are necessary; Sunday Fowles admitted to losing that "fight" with Reeve and head athletic trainer Chuck Barta.
"I've got to manage Syl and make sure she's available for us in the playoffs," Reeve said. That means a reduction in playing time, sparing her from practice when possible.
Reluctantly, Fowles agreed. "I really don't understand how to step back and how to slow down, because when you think of that you think of yourself getting old," she said. It's more about picking battles. Fowles has worked hard on a mid-range shot, something to take her out of the brutal low post on occasion. But she's still going to do most of her work down low. The Lynx will take advantage of her efficiency when she's on the court, but also utilize a smaller lineup when she's not.
Ultimately, Reeve and Fowles want the same thing: Another run at a title.
"When I got here my goal was to win a championship," she said. "That goal hasn't changed."