2021 WNBA Free Agency As Defined By Taylor Swift
I write about WNBA free agency a lot and listen to a lot of Taylor Swift, so it's time to make some connections.
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Basketball and Taylor Swift’s music are two pillars of my life. I always come back to the game I love and the songs I love when I need some comfort. Naturally, this leads to me linking them together as I did in this article about the Washington Mystics’ record-setting offense. Over the past month, I’ve been writing a lot about WNBA free agency while jamming out to Swift’s discography and made some connections between them.
Chicago Sky: Invisible String
Jumbo was the size of the chili dog that Candace Parker ordered at Portillo’s. Like Taylor Swift, Parker believes in “things coming full circle...in perfect storms.” She believes in fate and those invisible strings tying us to our fate. Swift followed those strings to the love of her life, and Parker followed those strings to her hometown team in Chicago for what may be the final act of her WNBA career. It’s all so beautiful.
Indiana Fever: Should’ve said no2
This song is all about doing something wrong because the option was available. Well, the Fever gave out some bad contracts in a moment of weakness. Jantel Lavender at 32 years old and Danielle Robinson at 31 years old are nice players when healthy, but don’t make sense for a rebuilding team that has not made the playoffs since 2016. Especially not on big-money, protected three-year contracts. Kelsey Mitchell’s restricted free agency and their youth movement should have been there in the back of their mind. And now their cap flexibility is gooonnnnnneeeee.
New York Liberty: Welcome to New York
I know that this seems lazy, but hear me out. Welcome to New York is about everybody wanting something more and looking for a sound they hadn’t heard before. And they can only find it in New York, where it is waiting for them. Well, Natasha Howard wants an MVP trophy, Betnijah Laney wants to be a star and Sabrina Ionescu wants to remind people why she had so much hype in last year’s draft. The Liberty want to hear Barclays Center going nuts, something that this franchise has never heard before. And it’s all there for them in New York.
Seattle Storm: Shake it off
Some people will say that the Seattle Storm has nothing in their brain after this offseason. The franchise lost Natasha Howard, Alysha Clark and Sami Whitcomb. Then, they traded two first-round picks, including the No. 1 overall selection, for unproven pieces and signed aging vets. There’s no doubt that Seattle wanted things to go differently. However, the franchise seems to have a plan to keep Breanna Stewart, a top-three player in the WNBA. Stewart and Jewell Loyd (and possibly Sue Bird) may win another title in Seattle soon, but only if the Storm can shake off what happened this offseason.
Los Angeles Sparks: Back to December
The Sparks recovered nicely after losing Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray. They’ll most likely still be a playoff team with an outside chance at a top 4 seed. But I’m sure LA is thinking back to all the beautiful times when they watched Parker and Gray laugh from the passenger side. The franchise is moving on, but the Sparks would swallow their pride, go back to December and change their minds on whatever decision(s) pushed those two away. The interesting question is when “December” was for this team.
Atlanta Dream: Clean
As I wrote about for Her Hoop Stats, the Atlanta Dream are in a drought. Since coming within one game of reaching the 2018 WNBA Finals, the franchise has withered due to injuries, missed shots, superstar departures and Kelly Loeffler. With Loeffler out of the spotlight and a healthy group, the Dream can punch a hole through the roof and get clean. I chose this song because Taylor finally got over a breakup through internal development and luck breaking her way. Atlanta needs both those things to get over the pain of the failures in the past two years in 2021.
I picked this song because the Wings have 22 first round picks in the 2021 draft. Just kidding, they have four. But the team’s average age may be close to 22 this year. Dallas has a bunch of young pieces to build around their budding stars in Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally. This song is about being young and taking advantage of the time to make mistakes. That’s what the Wings are doing and it should be just as fun as yelling “I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I’M FEELING 22.”
Connecticut Sun: Paper Rings
Connecticut is on the franchise’s best run in a decade. Over the last four years, the Sun came within a game of a championship in 2019, made a surprise run to last year’s semifinals and made the playoffs each year. The three constants for Connecticut in this span have been head coach Curt Miller, Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas.4 All three got new contracts this offseason. The Sun wants shiny things, like a championship trophy. Despite not having a title yet, they still married this core with paper rings aka big contracts because this is the group they want to succeed with. Hopefully, the shiny things will follow.5
Minnesota Lynx: How you get the girl
Legendary Lynx Head Coach/GM Cheryl Reeve struck out in free agency last season, and she said: “Never again.” She went all out chasing free agents and nabbed three excellent players in Kayla McBride, Aerial Powers and Natalie Achonwa. Even though Reeve didn’t stand out in the rain outside of the players’ homes6, she followed Taylor’s advice to be cheesy and over-the-top by sending McBride a blueprint to a championship, gifting Achonwa Beats headphones with the Lynx logo and customizing an Xbox controller for Powers with her in a Minnesota jersey. That’s how you get the girl, folks.
Las Vegas Aces/Washington: Blank Space7
The Aces and the Mystics are two of my championship favorites for the 2021 season. But both teams have a blank space on their depth chart. As of today, neither Liz Cambage nor Natasha Cloud have signed contracts for the upcoming season. Cambage is a superstar in every aspect of her life, and the Aces need her to reach their potential. Cloud isn’t quite a superstar, but it’s hard to overstate how important she is to the Mystics identity on and off the court. Both teams need to write these womens’ names into their roster before they take it too far and lose them.
Phoenix Mercury: I don’t want to live forever (ft. Zayn)8
I picked this song for Phoenix because the Mercury and Diana Taurasi did the opposite of what the characters in this song did. Taylor and Zayn realize how hard life is without each other only after breaking up. The Mercury knew they couldn’t go without the best player in franchise history, and doubled down by trading two first-round picks for players to help them win in DT’s waning days. They don’t want to live forever if that forever doesn’t include her and continuously mortgage the future for her present. It might be short-sighted, but the name that the Phoenix Mercury wants to keep saying forever is Diana Taurasi.
I didn’t include any songs from Evermore because I just don’t know that album yet. Taylor’s other eight albums are old friends and I need time before letting another into my circle. Also here is how I would rank those eight albums right now with my favorite song from each in parentheses: Red (All Too Well), 1989 (Blank Space or Style), Lover (I Think He Knows), Folklore (Invisible String), Speak Now (Back To December), Taylor Swift (Picture To Burn), Fearless (Tell Me Why), Reputation (Delicate).
Hands down, the easiest song selection on this list.
I hate so much that Katie Lou Samuelson is not on this team anymore because she and Bella Alarie definitely jammed to this song often.
Jonquel Jones is the team’s superstar and has been on the team since 2016, but she opted out of last season. Plus this fits better into my narrative.
Just go with it. It was really hard to come up with a song for the Sun.
At least not that we know of.
I picked this in part because Alysha Clark said it was one of her favorite Taylor songs in an interview. Also, Alysha told me all the music she liked, which included Anita Baker and Luther Vandross, and I asked what her favorite Taylor Swift song is. Why am I like this?
Please ignore any connections to 50 Shades of Gray, even though Diana Taurasi’s jokes about this would be amazing. And yes, I realize that this is Zayn’s song.