How the WNBA Paves the Way for New NBA Talent

from the opening Hint, Paolo Panchero He asserts himself in his debut in the NBA, scoring the first points for the Orlando Magic after cutting towards the middle of the coating, performing powerful dribbles with his hands and absorbing friction from the Detroit Pistons forward. be honest with you With a spinning action before unleashing a circular hook. Banchero would go on to score 27 points on opening night, the most points he had in his first game since Allen Iverson in 1996, in front of a sold-out crowd at Little Caesars Arena.

It’s the kind of flashy stat Panchero put up so often while he averaged 21.7 points during his rookie season, but there’s at least one person who isn’t impressed by his scoring numbers alone: ​​his mom. Having a former WNBA player as a parent has its perks, and the high standards Ronda Smith holds for the rookie is what made him who he is today.

“When I was younger, I would hear that after every game, even if I played well,” Panchero told ESPN. And it would be like, ‘Well, you didn’t do this’ or ‘Your hands weren’t up in the middle.’ You’ll find a few to choose from. That’s why I love it.” She always told me she wanted me to get away, to be better than she was. She always felt like she sold herself a little bit in her career. So, she didn’t want me to do that and make the same mistakes.”

The Pistons respond to Banchero’s opening basket when Kid Cunningham It pulls crowds at the edge but finds 2022 No. 5 overall Jaden Ivey Cut toward the hoop for hand throwing. Less than a minute into their NBA debut, they’re both in the top five on the board.

Banchero and Ivey will always remain associated as part of the same draft class. They are first and third, respectively, among rookies in scoring this season, (Indiana’s Ben Mathurin is second). Both Banchero and Ivey — set to meet for the first time since Opening Night when the Pistons host the Magic on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET) — can also trace their basketball roots through moms who had their own playing careers.

Rhonda Smith-Panchero graduated as the all-time leading scorer at the University of Washington in 1995 (now No. 6 on that list) and played professionally for several seasons in the ABL before playing one season in Sacramento. Kings in 2000. Niele Ivey played four seasons in the WNBA in between Indiana feverDetroit Shock and Phoenix Mercury She is the current head coach of the women’s basketball team at Notre Dame. The 2022 NBA Finals featured six sons of former NBA players.

Banchero and Ivey represent the next wave of second generation players filling out NBA rosters who are the proud sons of former WNBA players. She told the story of asking parents to prepare their children for professionals. But for this rookie duo, watching and learning the game from their moms made all the difference.

“Having a mom who just loves the game, and her passion for the game every single day, I wouldn’t have had the same passion if it wasn’t for my mom,” Ivey said.

I have captured the IVEY It took a while to settle into his first regular season game as a pro, but once he did, he was electric in the third quarter. His instincts and speed accounted for 10 of his 19 points against Banchero and Magic.

Facing an uneven start to the game brought him back to the perseverance lessons he learned from his mother, Nell, who was in the stands on opening night. It’s just over a three-hour drive from South Bend, Indiana, to Detroit, so Nell makes the trip to watch her son play whenever her schedule allows. Although she doesn’t press with many reminders of her game days, her lessons are still about her son’s mind.

“You just told me whatever you do, just keep trusting your work. It’s not going to be easy,” Ivey told ESPN. “There will be times that are going to be tough and tough, but at the end of the day, what you take from them and how you handle adversity will make you a better person.”

Both Jaden and Paulo have grown up watching, appreciating and learning from the ladies’ game. Paolo would coach Ronda at a junior college and an all-girls high school in Seattle, while Jaden accompanied Neal to practices, games, shootouts and the Final Four while she was an assistant for the women’s basketball team at Notre Dame. He gave NBA players an appreciation of the game by seeing the passion and attention to detail that their moms and the players they trained put into perfecting their craft.

“We don’t play over the edge, but he’s seen the intangibles,” Neil Ivey told ESPN. “He saw the things that got us to this point and the success we’ve had.”

Niele Ivey has gone to the Final Four as an assistant coach at Notre Dame seven times (2011-2015, 2018-2019) and made an impression on young Jaden, who remembers the lack of sleep his mom got while she got ready for the big games.

“She’d watch the movie all night before the big games, and she’d never sleep before,” he said. “I’d wake up, it’d be seven in the morning, and you’d still be watching a movie from last night.”

This grind imprinted on Jaden from an early age is part of the reason his rookie campaign got off to such a fast start. He averages 15.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists on 42% shooting and has been catapulted into a larger role with Cunningham Off season with a shin injury.

“He knows the game,” Pistons coach Duane Casey told ESPN. “He might make a mistake, but it’s an honest mistake. You tell him one thing and he knows what a correction should be. He’s the first to know when I talk to him about something. And that, to me, tells me he’s learned well and that he’s been around good coaches.” Throughout his career. Even as a little kid he was around the game… He loved kids like that.”

Pamela W Javal McGee They were the first mother-son duo to play in the WNBA and NBA, making history when JaVale was drafted in 2008, but there have been few other instances of sons following in their mother’s footsteps.

Magic guard Gary Harris is the son of Joy Holmes-Harris, who played one season for the Detroit Shock in 2000. Both women who have sons in the NBA stopped playing professionally by 2005. Who played the sport – Tina Thompson’s son, Dylan, who plays high school basketball in Houston, and Sheryl Swoopes’ son, Jordan Jackson, plays professionally in the Lebanese League.

The relative youth of the WNBA, which just completed its 26th season in 2022, plays into the lack of a mother-son duo, but also the choices women’s basketball players often have to make between prioritizing playing careers and raising children.

“There are a lot of moms out there at the time who either decided not to have or decided to walk away from a career to balance the two, there are probably many stories out there,” said Nelle Ivey, who was pregnant with Jaden during her rookie season in the WNBA in 2001. “. But Indiana Fever didn’t even tell her exit interviews.

“I know myself I have a lot of anxiety, a lot of anxiety about am I going back? Securing a place, just getting on with my career, you just never know having a baby.”

Skylar Diggins Smith He made the same choice in 2018, and played with that Pregnant all season without telling the Dallas Wings, and then miss out on the entire 2019 season while getting back in shape and dealing with postpartum depression. It was not an uncommon situation throughout league history – Swoopes was at the top of her game but missed a large portion of her rookie season in 1997 to give birth, and was discovered by Candace Parker after the fact that she played part of her rookie season. Pregnant with her first child.

The experience has turned Diggins-Smith into an advocate for improving conditions for working mothers in the league, both on social media and at the negotiating table for the National Women’s Basketball Association during its recent collective bargaining agreement with the league. The new CBA, passed in 2020, includes changes aimed at providing increased resources for mothers and help with raising their children, including paid maternity leave with full salary for the first time in league history, a childcare stipend, and two-bedroom apartments for players with children. and mental health services.

“Now there are a lot of success stories, you see a lot of moms having the opportunity to do both, balancing motherhood with work,” said Nelle Ivey. “There are so many success stories and so many women out there that you can relate to now. The resources are so much stronger now. I love it because I know what it was like.” The changes in the CBA are notable, but current players are also noticing a shift in attitudes from teams toward parenting.

“I know myself and my organization, I feel more accepted,” said the Las Vegas Aces guard Derekah Hamby ESPN said. “I couldn’t have imagined at the time. Now, I feel comfortable bringing my daughter, Amaya, to practice. I wouldn’t have said that five years ago. So it was more about that than the actual CBA.”

Hamby helped the Aces win their first WNBA championship of the year, and during it Speech at the Las Vegas Championship Paradeshe announced that she was expecting her second child, Amaya’s baby brother.

Hamby knows her kids will grow up around basketball. Their father played basketball in college, and their aunt, Olivia Nelson-Odowda, plays for the Los Angeles Sparks — but she doesn’t want to put any extra pressure on them to pick up basketball, even if she thinks they’ll eventually gravitate toward the sport.

With more opportunities for women to raise children and play sports, it seems almost certain that more players will follow in their mother’s footsteps in the years to come.

“It’s going to be a new wave,” said Jaden Ivey. “The love you have for the game, that translates to women and men, no matter what.”

Leave a Comment