MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Blood poured from the nose of Sylvia Fowles after an elbow from an Atlanta Dream player caught her in the face.
As she kept chasing after the loose ball, longtime friend and teammate Seimone Augustus just shook her head.
“She gets beat down every game,” Augustus said on Thursday. “She’s had a broken nose, jammed fingers. If you pay attention to the games and see the defenses she has to go through, other players in her position may get the little ticky-tack fouls.
“Sylvia’s got to fight through an arm bar. She’s doing dumbbell curls with players out there. It’s been impressive to see her getting through those things.”
Fowles has done so much more than just get through the punishment this season. She is averaging 20.7 points and 10.0 rebounds and shooting 68.2 percent from the field to lead the Minnesota Lynx to a WNBA-best 21-3 record heading into a WNBA Finals rematch with the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday and has cemented herself as the runaway favorite for the MVP three-quarters of the way through the season.
Long one of the most skilled centers in the league, Fowles has been more dominant than ever in her 10th season. She insists that there have been no major adjustments, no special workouts or different approaches this season.
“I’m just poised and consistent,” Fowles said. “Back then, if I got bumped and got hit, I would probably shy away from where I’m used to scoring or I would pass the ball more. This year, coach is just like if you can go through three people, go through three people.”
In much the same way that Shaquille O’Neal made it difficult on officials to recognize fouls committed on his hulking frame, the 6-foot-6, 212-pound Fowles is often a victim of her own strength and size. A foul that would cause a smaller player to tumble to the court barely makes Fowles flinch as she powers to the basket.
“You know that you’re going to get hit and get popped and every third foul is probably going to get called,” she said.
“It gets you prepared mentally to just let stuff roll off and not to click within those moments. That’s been a key for me this year, playing through all the negative, the good, the bad…