"Showtime" Shoni Schimmel Earns Her Nickname at the 2014 WNBA All-Star
PHOENIX, AZ, July 19, 2014 -- Nicknames are commonplace in sports today, but how many athletes can really say that they live up to them? Shoni "Showtime" Schimmel proved that her label is more substance than style in the 2014 Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star Game, one that will be remembered as perhaps the best WNBA All-Star Game ever.
Schimmel scored an All-Star record 29 points and had a game-high eight assists to lead the Eastern Conference All-Stars to a 125-124 victory in this event's first-ever overtime game. But in order to tell the story of Schimmel's nickname, we have to go all the way back to the beginning. And for Shoni, that means all the way back to high school.
"My nickname was Sho in high school," Shoni said of the origin of her nickname "Showtime," "and then 'Showtime Cooper' over here [Atlanta Dream Coach and Showtime Laker great Michael Cooper walked into the locker room] he kinda added it in right then and there when I first got drafted so it all kind of fell into place."
"Falling into place" is also a very accurate descriptor for Schimmel's All-Star weekend on a whole. She is not your average All-Star MVP. In fact, Shoni Schimmel is not even your average All-Star. Schimmel, a rookie and a reserve guard for the Atlanta Dream, has had a solid rookie season, but hardly an awe-inspiring one. That is, until now.
While Schimmel dazzled the U.S. Airways Center crowd, her and her fellow All-Stars were setting or breaking several All-Star records. The East and West combined for 249 points, the highest combined score ever in a WNBA All-Star game. Schimmel then became the first-ever rookie to earn WNBA All-Star MVP honors as she drained seven 3-pointers, also an All-Star record.
Not to mention, Schimmel's mere appearance in the WNBA All-Star Game was impressive enough after she was voted a starter by her legions of adoring fans with the third most votes (25,601) behind only Maya Moore and Elena Delle Donne.
Schimmel's background is not a secret. She grew up on a Native American reservation in Oregon and became the highest drafted Native American player in the WNBA when she was drafted eighth overall by the Atlanta Dream. And with her, Shoni brought her massive contingent of Native American fans, many of whom were present at the game.
Among those in Shoni's support system was her family.
"It means a lot, you know, this is the first game where [my family] actually all got to watch me play in the WNBA in person," Schimmel said. "You know, my parents have made it to Atlanta a few times, my sister has made it to Atlanta a few times, but for them to all show up and be there at this game it was huge for me, I just went out there and felt like I needed to represent."
And represent she did. Not only for her family and her community, but also for the Atlanta Dream, her class of rookies and the WNBA on a whole.
Schimmel brings a unique style of play to the game which she calls "rez ball" and described once to the New York Times as just hav[ing] that killer instinct and go[ing] out there and just play[ing] whatever youre feeling."
in fact, Schimmel was most well-known coming out of college for her gutsy run-in with then-Baylor center Brittney Griner. In that clip, Shoni took it the length of the floor, behind the back, and all the way to the hoop with a massive scoop reverse layup over Griner's over 7-foot reach. A move which she replicated in the All-Star Game.
Her flare almost certainly struck a chord with Cooper when the Dream drafted her earlier this year. Afterall, he did bequeath her with the nickname "Showtime." And it's clear, even the in the aftermath of this historic All-Star Game, Cooper still has a lot to teach the young rookie.
When asked what she was going to do now, Schimmel said, "I'm just going to go see my family and spend time with my family."
"Now see, you're supposed to say you're going to Disneyland," Coach Cooper chimed in.
But too late, she was off to sign autographs for the many Showtime fans who made the trip to see her play.