The Lynx had a remote team meeting a little more than a week ago, a Zoom-style catch-up involving everyone from players and coaches to trainers and other staff. It was a chance for introductions for a revamped roster.
Here are the new players. Here are the rookies.
One newbie might have stolen the show: Odyssey Sims’ weeks-old son, Jaiden.
“He was fussing a little bit,” Sims said this past week from her Dallas-area home. “But he did sleep for the first half of the call.”
Sims, a guard acquired by Lynx General Manager and coach Cheryl Reeve in a lopsided trade before the 2019 season, was a first-time All-Star last season — a season that ended in September with Sims in the first trimester of her pregnancy. In early April she gave birth to Jaiden. Healthy, happy, 8 pounds, 2 ounces, 20 inches long.
Perhaps a future star?
“I know he’ll play basketball,” she said. “Because I play basketball.”
Jaiden was born at a difficult time, with the world battling a virus. Since the birth, Sims, who said she has been staying with her mother, Pamela, has been quarantined with her new child. She’s thankful they are both healthy and is learning the ropes as a first-time mom, getting to know what her son needs and when he needs it.
“He’s counting on me. He’ll be my inspiration, inspiring me to be better. I think it will change me. I will appreciate the game more, knowing I have a little person that’s mine, that I’m responsible for, every day, all day. ”
“This doesn’t make you an adult overnight,” said Sims, 27. “But it makes you a better person over time. I’m learning. Every day I’m more in love with him.
“This is someone who’s going to love you, no matter what. That’s the best thing. Kids look up to their parents as their superstar, their hero. I love every minute of it every day.”
Sims will celebrate Mother’s Day from a whole new angle Sunday. Not so much as the only daughter, the youngest of three in her family. But as a mom.
“Someone mentioned that to me the other day,” she said. “I hadn’t even thought about it. I’m like, ‘Cool.’ I’m excited. You know, we probably won’t do anything. We’ll stay at home. But it will be a special day for me.”
Baby comes first
It has, of course, taken a toll. Her body is healing. Sims is stealing catnaps when she can. The first two weeks were hard, Sims said, but it’s getting better. She’s learning what each cry means; Jaiden dreams a lot when he sleeps, and sometimes he will cry. Sims’ first instinct was to pick him up, but she’s learned to let him fall back asleep.
“I wasn’t nervous before I had him,” she said. “I knew what to expect. No sleep, everything on the baby’s schedule. You have to put the babe before yourself.”
In everything, really. Including basketball.
“I just know, when you’re getting ready to bring a life into the world, you talk differently,” Reeve said. “You have a different purpose in life, that it’s not about you. That leads to maturity. You can hear that in her voice.”
It has been reported Sims will not play for the Lynx should the 2020 season ultimately get underway. She would need to serve a two-game suspension for a drunken driving arrest last June 6 if she does play.
Asked if she plans to play in 2020, Sims wouldn’t say.
“We’ll see,” she said. “I’m not going to say I’m not playing, or that I am playing. I’m giving my body time to heal, spend more time with him, watch him grow every day. Literally, every day. That’s the best part.”
The new collective bargaining agreement the league and players agreed to in January gives enhanced benefits to mothers. The Lynx remain confident Sims will play this year.
Should a season eventually start, the time lost to the coronavirus pandemic could, in a way, work in Sims’ favor. The 2020 Lynx season was supposed to start at Chicago on Friday. There is a chance play could be suspended well into July. Or later.
But one thing is sure: Sims will play again. “I love the Lynx organization,” she said. “I’m excited to get back to work.”
When she does return, Sims could be better than ever, which is saying something.
Acquired in a trade with Los Angeles in exchange for Alexis Jones, Sims came to Minnesota and, in her sixth season, breathed new life into her career. She scored 14.5 points per game — her highest average in four seasons. Her 5.4 assists was a career high and her 3.4 rebounds matched her career best, and Reeve was generous with her praise of Sims at the end of last season.
She expects more. Looking back on six seasons, Sims said some things could have been better.
“Now I have my own little reason,” she said. “I have a new addition. He’s counting on me. He’ll be my inspiration, inspiring me to be better. I think it will change me. I will appreciate the game more, knowing I have a little person that’s mine, that I’m responsible for, every day, all day. I’m going to do it for my son.”
Reeve refers to it as intangibles leading to tangible results.
“It’s maturity,” Reeve said, referring to what motherhood brings. “It accelerates your maturity as a person. Those things translate. The intangibles of being selfless, she’ll be more accustomed to that. That will lead to, I think, enhanced relationships, trust. I think you’ll see results. That’s my belief.”
Fact is, Sims said, having someone depending on you changes your perspective. And that’s good.
“It’s amazing,” she said.