Inside The W: Love & Basketball for Dupree, Bonner

On this particular day, DeWanna Bonner is sitting in an airport waiting to board a flight to Chicago, the start of a 10-day road trip for the Phoenix Mercury.

Candice Dupree, meanwhile, is in the air on this same morning flying back to Indianapolis from Seattle, ending a five-day trip to the West Coast.

This is how the summer of 2018 looks for the WNBA veteran stars, who were married in the fall of 2016 and are juggling their first WNBA season together as parents to 10-month-old twin girls, Cali and Demi.

For the first time since they were married, Dupree and Bonner will face off in a WNBA game on different teams, with the Mercury traveling to face Indiana on Friday night.

“I don’t know that it will be that weird for us, we have played against each other overseas for years,” Dupree said. “I told her though, business is business and I won’t take it easy on her.”

Dupree and Bonner are the only married active players in the WNBA. Between them, they have seven All-Star game honors, and they won a WNBA championship together in 2014 in Phoenix.

But this is a WNBA season unlike any either of them has ever experienced.

Balancing the demands of parenthood, travel, child-care, marriage and maintaining world-class professional basketball careers is unchartered territory.

Last season, when Bonner took the season off because of her pregnancy, she lived in Indianapolis, giving birth mid-season in July. This past winter, as Bonner went to the Czech Republic to get her game back in shape for her WNBA return, the babies stayed with Dupree, both overseas and in Florida.

Bonner and Dupree made no secret of the fact that they were hoping to play on the same team this season. But Indiana designated Dupree as a core player and Phoenix did the same with Bonner. So it was time to make a plan. Quickly.

“We didn’t even have time to be disappointed,” Bonner said. “Right then and there, we had to figure out, ‘How are we going to do this?’”

Bonner has a home in Phoenix that had enough space for the babies to live more comfortably.

Both players have sisters who are handling child-care duties. Dupree’s mother travels from Florida to help as well. Dupree calls it “all hands on deck.”

Bonner said having family taking care of her babies has been key to making this arrangement work.

“To have family with them, I feel like we don’t have to worry because we know they are in good hands,” Bonner said. “And the babies love them to death, so it’s a big comfort knowing they are with them.”

The twins recently went to Indiana to spend a couple of weeks with Dupree. They are now back in Phoenix for a long stretch.

“We are just making it work,” Bonner said. “It’s all about them.”

At this point in the season, Dupree said she won’t see her kids again until the All-Star break at the end of July.

“I am very thankful for FaceTime,” Dupree said.

Bonner joked the Dupree has the better end of the bargain.

“She’s getting more sleep than I do,” Bonner said.

This WNBA season schedule has been tight, as the schedule has been condensed to accommodate the FIBA World Cup tournament in Spain in September.

Time off has been precious.

Last week, Bonner took one day to fly to Los Angeles to meet up with Dupree. The two hadn’t seen one another in nearly a month, even as they have traded time with the twins.

Dupree admits this arrangement is “not ideal.”

Bonner and Dupree are used to being apart. They have been together for nearly eight years, and have spent as much as eight months apart while they were playing on separate teams overseas.

But now they have a family.

“Going into this season, I think we had no idea how this was going to work and so far it’s gone really well,” Dupree said. “Aside from the fact that one of us is always getting the short end because we aren’t with them.”

Bonner can’t deny that the time on the road is a respite. She said the babies are “pretty chill”, but they haven’t been the best sleepers.

“Getting them settled in one place for a long stretch will hopefully help with their sleep routines,” Bonner said. Both girls are playful and cuddly. And they are getting closer to walking, getting more mobile by the day.

“I just keep saying, ‘Don’t grow too fast’,” Bonner said.

“There are two of them and its hard work,” Bonner said. “I don’t get a lot of time for myself to do the things I need to do. When I’m home, I can’t remember the last time I got to take a nap or watch TV. I’m getting my hair and nails done on the road, because that’s when I can do it.”

And there’s the small matter of Bonner’s school work. She is in graduate school to get her teaching credential, preparing for life after the WNBA.

Bonner and Dupree’s relationship was known to many of the fans in Phoenix before they were married. Even as Dupree said they are “not the most public people.”

“We feel so supported, for sure,” Bonner said. “The fans in Phoenix always ask about Candice, tell me to tell her how much they miss her.”

The twins will celebrate their first birthday on July 27. There’s a good chance either Bonner or Dupree will be in Minnesota participating in the WNBA All-Star game.

“DB is going to want to go all-out for their birthday,” Dupree said. “I’m good with whatever she wants to do.”

Going forward, Dupree said she doesn’t envision a repeat of the juggling act their family is doing this summer.

“This can’t happen again,” Dupree said. “Either we find a way to get on the same team or something is going to have to happen, because this is difficult.

“The focus, right now is on basketball, but in the grand scheme, it’s just basketball. Now I have a family and I need to focus on them as well.”

Bonner agreed.

“We don’t do long-term plans right now, we are just trying to get through the day,” Bonner said.

Longtime WNBA reporter Michelle Smith writes a weekly column on throughout the season. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.