In her 14th season in the WNBA, Sylvia Fowles is dominating after playing in just seven games last year due to persistent injury issues. As the Minnesota Lynx’s final remaining player from the dynasty era that claimed four league titles, Fowles, 35, is leading her team once again this summer and trying to help Minnesota reach an 11th-straight postseason.
It has been impressive to see the veteran center bounce back from a disappointing year and put together another stellar campaign one-third of the way through the season. But Fowles’ annual dominance is something basketball fans have been spoiled by throughout her time in the league.
Fowles provided the latest example of how dominant she was on Wednesday, commanding the Lynx to a comeback victory with 26 points, 19 rebounds, five blocks, and two steals. That was the second time in her career that Fowles has tallied a stat line like that. She’s become one of six players to ever do so in WNBA history, joining Yolanda Griffith, Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker, Chiney Ogwumike, and Brittney Griner.
Fowles’ continued success has led people to speculate about how great her career has been to this point and whether or not anyone else in the 25-year history of the league has been better.
“Syl embodies everything you want her to be,” head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said. “Her legacy is, who’s better? Who is a better center in the history of our league? That’s her legacy. She’s the best center in the history of our league.”
A powerful statement, especially knowing the type of talent that has come before Fowles. But Reeve’s not wrong. Fowles is not only having a nice season this summer, she is continuing to build on a career that stacks up among the best in WNBA history.
Going into Friday night’s game against the Las Vegas Aces, Fowles was averaging 16.4 points (tied for 15th in the WNBA), 9.6 rebounds (tied for fourth), a WNBA-leading 2.2 steals, 1.6 blocks, and 1.5 assists (tied for fifth) in 13 games. She’s also shooting 64% from the field, which ranks second in the league and is the second-best mark of her career.
Fowles has continued to ascend the historical rankings and leaderboards, holding career averages of 15.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 1.2 steals, and 1.1 assists per game in 360 career regular-season appearances. Fowles currently holds the all-time record for career rebounds (3,525), while ranking fourth in career blocks (650) and 15th in career points (5,700). She also ranks eighth in Lynx history in games played (174), seventh in minutes (5,185), fifth in points (2,773), second in rebounds (1,693), sixth in steals (223), first in blocks (274), and first in double-doubles (79).
“I’m just trying to prove little things to myself, that I can still do things at somewhat of a high rate,” Fowles said. “I just try and go out and do what I do.”
In comparison to some other top centers who have taken the court in the WNBA, Reeve’s case for Fowles being the best center to play in the WNBA bears out. With more games played, the veteran center is right up there with the all-time greats.
“Of course I think highly of myself,” said Fowles. “I don’t think I speak that highly of myself because that’s just not what I do. I’d rather have my game speak for itself. As far as me talking about my legacy, I still have some work to do I think, in my opinion. At the end of the day, I don’t think any post does what I do.”
There’s no question Fowles is having a dominant season once again. Now it’s not just about how great she is this year, but how great she is all-time.
“Syl doesn’t like to disappoint people,” Reeve said. “She loves her teammates, loves her coaches. She’s somebody that always responds well. You know you can always count on her in the next game. She’s been playing great.
“She just embodies everything you want.”