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Archive for July 19, 2017

July 19, 2017 — The disappearance of an All-Star

Three years ago, Shoni Schimmel was the toast of the WNBA.

The Atlanta Dream guard had schooled the very best that women’s basketball had to offer, scoring 29 points — 24 in the second half and overtime on a variety of shots.

She sank seven 3-point goals. She drove to the hoop, once using the basket as a pick, hitting a twisting layup over Brittney Griner that resembled a similar confrontation that happened in the NCAA Tournament a few years earlier when Louisville took on Baylor.

Today, Schimmel is the property of the New York Liberty, but has not played a game this season, choosing to take time off to be with her family.

Fame, it seems, is a fleeting thing. It can also be a great clarifier as to what is truly important.

Schimmel, remember, is from the Umatilla tribe of Native Americans. She has felt it her mission to use basketball as a platform for understanding and change, hosting tribal nights at WNBA games. She has also represented basketball, and Native Americans at a Nike summit.

But she has also, in the offseason, joined protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and spent time with her ill mother. She has not been one to play basketball overseas to not only earn extra income, but to remain in playing shape.

As good as Schimmel has been, and as many skills as she still has in her frame, having an offseason without basketball is an enormous risk. There are only 12 roster spots available on each of the 12 rosters in the league. Lose your spot, and you may never get it back again. Atlanta, for example, was able to acquire guard Layshia Clarendon a couple of years ago, and she made the All-Star team this year.

Part of me wonders what might have been.