The 25th Anniversary of the WNBA couldn’t be off to a better start. Viewership is up 74% on ABC and ESPN this season. This season the Los Angeles Sparks are bringing a different look to the court. The team has 3 returning members from the 2020 season. For guard Brittney Sykes year five means new challenges and personal goals.
Sykes came to the Sparks in a trade before the 2020 season from the Atlanta Dream. She was drafted seventh overall in 2017 out of Syracuse and made the all-rookie team. In her first season with L.A., Sykes was voted to the WNBA’s all-defensive second team, averaging 10.1 points per game, 2.6 rebounds plus, a career-high 1.5 steals per game- which ranked 15th in the league. And let’s not forget that she worked her way into the starting line-up, all while in a “Wubble” season, similar to the NBA’s bubble.
Brit talked with Jill Munroe about her goal of becoming Defensive Player of the Year, the Sparks early-season struggles, and rocking a silky durag for this year’s team photos.
It started last year; I put extreme goals for myself. That way, if I do happen to miss that bar, what’s right under it is just as good. So last year I said, I want to place on the team when it comes to defensive players. Of course, go for DPOY. You go big or go home. But now this year, it’s the same attitude. But you’re not trying to make second-team this year. It’s first team and Defensive Player of the Year. Her former Sparks teammate Candace Parker won DPOY last season – and that defensively has always been my goal, to be that defensive juggernaut for my team because I’m capable of it. And then, offensively, I want to stay consistent. Stay a consistent threat. I want to be one of the best two-way players that ever played this game, so I can’t forget that I am still an offensive threat. And I’m still working on that now. Those are the two things that I set my mind on.
The Sparks started the season with two back-to-back losses. The team has since bounced back with two road wins over the Chicago Sky. Sykes’s says the team’s outlook on the rocky start is, “the journey is the reward.”
“We’re a new team; we literally formed this team less than two, maybe three weeks ago. Of course, there are high expectations, being a Sparks basketball player. It’s not a secret. This name carries weight outside of who we are. When we step on that court, we have to keep that in mind when playing these teams. We’re going to figure it out.
Some of us are really young, some of us aren’t. We’re talking about maturity and IQ, not saying that some are immature. It’s just what comes with experience, how to get through those rough spots when we’re losing by 20. How do we still do the little things? How can we still be a team and stay together? Once we get that all under our belt, we’ll be fine.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the WNBA, while Sykes wasn’t a huge fan coming up – she watched and attended Liberty games, but for her, it was more about I know I’ll be there one day – she does realize that now she is a role model and mentor to the generation coming behind her.
We’ve seen more focus on the fashion looks of athletes, and the WNBA is no exception. Brittney uses a stylist on game days, but her personal style also made its way to this season’s media photos. BSkyes is featured rocking her signature silky durag – cape out of course – in some of the photos.