Edwards Back in Familiar Place
Before asking Seattle Storm center Simone Edwards about her chances of making the Storm's final roster, one of the reporters gathered around Edwards paused briefly to note the absurdity of the situation, observing, "It seems like I ask you these questions every year."
2002 was the last time Edwards came to training camp as a lock to make the team, but each of the last three years she's found her way into one of the team's final roster spots. Edwards was successful last year in taking a stress-free approach to camp and not worrying about her chances of making the team, and she's brought the same attitude back to camp this year since arriving in Seattle on Friday.
"I won a championship with this team. I've been with this team through up and down. I've been here when we only won four and I've been here when we won a championship. At this point, my heart will always be in Seattle. I always want the best for the team. If coach feels like she can choose someone else to win another championship, I'm down with that. And if she feels she can keep me, I'm down with that."
Don't mistake that attitude for Edwards not wanting to play or make the Storm's roster. She was asked if she still has a passion for the game.
"Always," she quickly answered. "That's why I'm always here. I love this city, I love the folks, so I'm always coming back. When I'm 82, I'm going to be passing through Seattle. I'll say, 'Coach, let me run! I can do it!'"
Edwards had an off-season she describes as, "emotionally tough for me and physically." While playing overseas in Spain, she continued to be bothered by a left foot injury she suffered the previous off-season and played on throughout the 2005 WNBA season ("I'm Jamaican; I'm tough," she explained). Edwards's sister had some health issues, and ensuring she was treated well was one reason why Edwards returned to her native Jamaica last month.
While at home, Edwards also had an opportunity to meet Jamaica's Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, who took office at the end of March. Simpson-Miller is a former minister of sports whom Edwards calls a friend.
"It was so good, because she's the first female prime minister," said Edwards. "I'm so proud of her. It's good to have a woman running the country. I hope the U.S. will try that one day."
Simpson-Miller had a message for Edwards, encouraging her to play in this summer's Caribbean Basketball Championships, which will be played in Jamaica.
"You can't turn down the prime minister," said Edwards.
"This is the biggest event in basketball (in Jamaica) for a long time. She really wants me to come down. All the people in Jamaica want me to come down. So I'm hoping that if I'm on the team, it will work out that I can represent them. It's not a very long time and they really need me down there. It's a boost for our country because of the situation right now, so I'm leaning towards that."
The Caribbean Basketball Championships are scheduled for June 12-18, which would mean Edwards would likely have to miss the final four games of the Storm's five-game June road trip (June 11 at Indiana, June 14 at Minnesota, June 15 at Chicago and June 17 at Sacramento) if she makes the team's roster and opts to play for her country.
Storm Coach Anne Donovan said Monday that it is too early for her to think about what the effect of Edwards's potential absence would be.
"If she makes the team, then we'll worry about June," said Donovan, "if she needs to go or, if she does go, how we'll cover it."
Edwards comes off of one of her best WNBA seasons. Edwards shot a career-high 58.5% from the field and was consistently productive for the Storm despite inconsistent minutes off the bench. Still, Edwards came into camp facing some tough competition with the Storm bringing in veteran Tiffani Johnson as a training-camp invitee. Initially, it was anticipated that Edwards and Johnson were likely in competition for one spot, but with neither young post player (rookie Dalila Eshe and second-year center Lindsay Taylor) standing out thus far in camp and both battling nagging injuries, Edwards and Johnson could both make the final roster.
"The first day I came in, I saw five posts on the sideline with ice," she said. "I was about to turn around and go back to my car. I'm like, 'I'm supposed to be the only broken one on the Storm.'"