The game-winning shot will steal the headline. The two-hand slam will play on a seemingly endless loop on TV. Even the smooth stepack jumper or ankle-breaking crossover can’t, and won’t be missed.
But, the rebound often goes forgotten.
Plainly dubbed the most humdrum play in basketball, the rebound is a stat driven purely by personal will and innate energy from within. You don’t have to be the biggest player on the floor or the most skilled, you just have to be the one who wants it the most.
Someone who eats, sleeps and breathes hustle is Dallas Wings forward, Glory Johnson. A University of Tennessee product, Johnson has spent the entirety of her five-year career in the Wings organization.
After being named an All-Star in the second and third year of her career she missed the entirety of the 2015 season due to pregnancy. When she returned in the middle of 2016 she did so on a clear mission to make her presence felt on both ends of the floor.
This culminated on July 5, 2016 against the Mercury when she recorded the first 20-point, 20-rebound game in the WNBA that season and the first since Sylvia Fowles in 2013.
This year, Johnson is on pace to play her first full season since 2014, and has showcased time and time again the true value of the rebound.
“I’m a player that’s used to getting putbacks or rebounds, whether they’re my own putbacks or it’s a shot someone else takes and I get the rebound.” Johnson told the media ahead of an Thursday evening clash with the Mercury. “I know that at the end of the day every board I get can be a second chance for our team to score.”
Johnson and her Wings-leading 2.3 offensive rebounds per game reason are the main reason why Dallas is leading the WNBA as a whole in offensive boards per game (11.0) and in turn are third overall in total points per game (85.2). The formula is clear: offensive boards equal easy buckets and in turn instant offense. Every team likes the high-percentage shots created by rebounds around the rim.
Johnson is also getting it done on the glass on the defensive side of the ball. Her 8.6 defensive rebounds leads the Wings roster and are the most since her All-Star season back in 2014. “I know when I get defensive rebounds I can push and start the offense,” Johnson said. “I know that me rebounding helps a bunch. If I can continue to rebound I know that I can help my team out a lot.”
Help she has. The Wings currently sit in the seventh seed and if the playoffs started today you’d see Glory and the rest of her Dallas teammates on the floor playing postseason ball for the first time since 2015.
Individually, Johnson played what may have been her best week of WNBA basketball in the first week of August. She led all West players in rebounds (14.5 rpg) and tied for ninth in scoring (17.0 ppg) as the Wings beat both the Storm and Sparks in front of an enthusiastic Dallas crowd. This kind of production saw her take home Player of the Week honors for the second time in her five WNBA seasons.
— WNBA (@WNBA) August 7, 2017
Glory is quick to recognize that rebounding isn’t a singular action, and in particular sees the tandem of her and Courtney Paris around the rim as a formidable one.
“I love playing with Courtney because I know what Courtney is capable of,” Johnson said. “A lot of people underestimate her. I’ve been playing with her so long and can communicate with her even if I feel like she should be diving a certain way or she wants me to move a certain way, I understand Courtney. I’m someone who can tip a rebound to her and she can grab because I can’t jump high enough, so I love playing with her.”
Paris’ career average of 6.2 rebounds per game put her in the 25th slot on the all-time list. Despite missing the middle part of this year because of a knee injury she is back to her well-documented rebounding ways.
The Wings have seven games left in their 2017 campaign and enter a pivotal Thursday night contest riding a two-game win streak as the Mercury come to town.
Led by the tenacity of Glory Johnson and her willingness to enjoy what few others do, makes the Dallas Wings a team with everything to play for.
— WNBA (@WNBA) August 6, 2017