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The Hard Screen Newsletter | May 2021

SEIMONE AUGUSTUS DESERVED TO RETIRE A LYNX Like Lindsey Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson before her, Seimone Augustus was a key figure in helping the Minnesota Lynx win four championships in seven seasons. She deserved to retire in Minnesota, where she built her legacy and helped turn the struggling Lynx franchise into a dynasty. Her retirement press conference was filled with wisdom. And on her way off the basketball court, she showed uncommon selfishness toward younger players seeking to become one of the 144 lucky women to claim a roster spot in the WNBA. But the biggest question looms: Which superstars get to retire where they built their legacies and which do not? “Minnesota knows that they have a piece of my heart,” Seimone Augustus said, a tapestry featuring the logo of the Los Angeles Sparks undulating gently behind her. It was late into last week’s retirement press conference when a question by Charles Hallman, a longtime reporter for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, brought her to tears. Six days before, Augustus -- the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, a four-time champion with the Minnesota Lynx, an eight-time All-Star and top-10 all-time WNBA scorer -- announced her retirement, for reasons familiar to any athlete lucky enough to experience career longevity: the body. To prepare for training camp in her second season in L.A., Augustus worked with a trainer on cardio and conditioning. Asked to run 48 sprints, the Baton Rouge, La. native obliged, but not because it was easy. “My ego got me through the 48 sprints,” Augustus said. “But then when I got to my car, I couldn’t even crank my car because I was just, like, exhausted. I was just, like, so tired. And I was, like, ‘What are you doing?’ And then I constantly had that battle -- that day until the day I decided (to retire).” “As athletes, that’s the amazing thing -- we’re able to have our minds command our bodies and have us do amazing things,” she added. “But once my mind could not tell my body to do what I wanted it to do … It really starts to tug on your heartstrings about where you’re at with the game.” Also in the May 2021 issue: -A #HardScreen on Curt Miller -A year in review on social justice...

The WNBA’s 25th anniversary season is here!

Dear Pals, Teammates and Power Players: Well, it’s about that time! The Hard Screen welcomes you in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the WNBA and tipoff to the 2021 season. As we look to the new season, the breadth of changes since the last is indisputable. Fresh jerseys, a new game ball, rearranged rosters and the weight […]...

The Hard Screen Newsletter | April 2021

THE HARD SCREEN NEWSLETTER | APRIL 2021 WHAT WE CAN LEARN ABOUT PROBLEM-SOLVING FROM SOUTH CAROLINA’S HEARTBREAKING FINAL FOUR LOSS (excerpt) “If we’re going to be able to execute on both sides of the ball, the score will take care of itself,” Dawn Staley said. “So, we want to work on creating very good habits.” The Gamecocks came out hot in this year’s tournament and looked especially sharp in their Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight appearances against the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets and the Texas Longhorns, respectively. But the weeds of inconsistency on layups had been growing since last season and carried forward into this one. And in spite of an otherwise well-executed contest, missed layups cost the Gamecocks a trip to the championship game, in gut-wrenching fashion. ''We got a pretty decent, two looks at it, layup, follow up,'' Staley said after the game. ''We just came up short. We lost the way we did and it's heartbreaking.'' The heartbreak, hopefully, will inspire the changes Staley wishes to see next season: well-executed possessions, no matter the advantage on the scoreboard. Of course, the concept of learning from painful lessons transfers far beyond the hardwood, into all aspects of life. And only by eradicating the weeds at their roots, not just chopping them at the soil level, can fundamental change take hold. Fundamental change takes both time and repetition, and it starts with honest assessment. Only by first recognizing the limitations of weed cutting can one become willing to do the more arduous work of weed pulling. Weed cutting may keep a yard tidy, but the tidiness will be short-lived; the weeds will grow back, and again and again, and we see how this works in all aspects of life. Last week, we anxiously awaited a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for roughly nine minutes, until Floyd drew his last breath. Chauvin committed the... The April 2021 newsletter includes the rest of this story and: * The most important story from this year’s NCAA Tournament that no one seems to be talking about * Key dates of the 2021 WNBA season * A sticker giveaway...

Official sticker of The Hard Screen is here!

Hello, Pals, Teammates and Power Players! The official sticker of The Hard Screen is here and you get the first look. Like everything about The Hard Screen, this, too, was a labor of love -- designed by me in collaboration with Danielle Shaw at kaleidaweb.com, the Photoshop master who also designed The Hard Screen's website.  All the artistic effects and graffiti tagging were done by yours truly and include special important-to-me messages (the meanings of which I'll probably never reveal but you can trust they are about strength and empowerment)....

THS Newsletter March 2021

The March 2021 newsletter features a deep dive into role mainstream sports media has played in thwarting the WNBA's growth and efforts to build a stable, successful league. Members also got a first listen at our interview with Gabby Williams, and more! AT THE FINGERTIPS OF MEN, THE WNBA NEVER HAD A CHANCE "At last we have a professional basketball league in which a player can arrive for a game in a silky dress, mascara and high heels and it's considered no big deal," Greg Cote, columnist for The Miami Herald, started his column for June 22, 1997, one day after the WNBA's league-opening game slate. "But enough about Dennis Rodman." In one sexist, homophobic sweep of the pen, Cote exemplifies the chest-puffing claim men have made on the sports space and the sexist, homophobic and racist views they were willing to sling to keep it. ......

#HardScreen: Early marketing of the W’s new Wilson game ball

We’re setting a hard screen on the Las Vegas Aces’ and/or the WNBA’s choice to float photos of center Liz Cambage posing with the league’s new Wilson-brand game ball. Granted, Cambage represents the league on a committee of basketball players from the WNBA, NBA, G League and Africa League who will be testing the new rock and providing feedback in the runup to the season. Yet, we feel we need to state the obvious...

Hard Screen Newsletter Issue No. 5

Jam-packed with content, Issue No. 5 features comprehensive reporting on what Natasha Cloud, Renee Montgomery and individual WNBA teams have done to register voters, secure polling locations and combat voter suppression ahead of Election Day 2020, plus the usual greeting from Tam, a “Featured Screen” and the “Links & Things” subscribers are used to....

Hard Screen Newsletter Issue No. 4

In this edition of The Hard Screen Newsletter: Hello! Here’s What’s New, All-Screen Team: Flashy Rookie, Vets Dazzle Early, Why It Matters That Andre Iguodala Didn’t Say Aerial Powers’ Name, The Featured Screen: MERCH!, Podcast, Links & Things...

Hard Screen Newsletter Issue No. 2

In this issue of The Hard Screen Newsletter: It’s Time (for Media) to Think Bigger, Hiring Black Women Journalists Serves the Public Interest, Podcast Bonus: Layshia Clarendon needs a megaphone....

BONUS: Layshia Clarendon needs a megaphone

In June 2019, I had the pleasure of speaking with Layshia Clarendon, WNBA guard and first vice president of the players’ association, for an article I was writing on the WNBA’s struggles to gain mainstream traction. After reading her essay this past week in The Players’ Tribune and watching her in conversation with Untamed author Glennon Doyle, I returned to that interview from 2019. Sadly, from relistening, I learned that the more things change in society the more they stay the same. In addition to discussing the ways the league failed its players (her words) on marketing, Layshia and I in 2019 discussed the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Emmanuel AME church shooting—both hate-based massacres of marginalized groups that also reflect the overall scourge of this nation’s gun violence problem. Listening now, with society in worse shape than it was one year ago, I can’t help wondering where we’d be if Clarendon had a megaphone for a platform that made her visible 12 months of the year, not just during Pride Month in June. Where might we be headed if Clarendon was invited onto SportsCenter regularly, or if her essays were published as op-eds in mainstream publications for even non-sports fans to read? In this PODCAST BONUS, a subscriber exclusive, clips from my 2019 interview with Layshia Clarendon....