NEW YORK — While Sylvia Fowles was sitting out the 2015 season waiting for a trade to the Minnesota Lynx, the 2017 WNBA MVP spent a lot of time cycling. It was a chance for her to stay in shape and keep her mind focused on other things besides basketball.
Now she’s giving others a chance to ride, donating a portion of her $15,000 MVP bonus to Cycles for Change. It’s a local organization that gives girls access to bicycles.
“I definitely love kids and it’s hard to keep them entertained,” Fowles said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday night. “It’s more important than ever for people to use their platform for good and I have always wanted to find a way to share my love of cycling with others. Really, I wanted to say thank you.”
Cycles for Change works to support low—income youth and youth of colour in riding bikes as a way of living healthy lifestyles in Minnesota.
“I picked up cycling when I was older, didn’t do it much as a kid,” Fowles said. “It’s a great way for me to release a lot of my stress.”
The donation by Fowles will get the girls a new bike, a lock and helmet. It will also educate them on bike safety and maintenance. Kids in the program will take a group ride with Fowles, as well.
“Safety is always important, and I think this will be a great way for the kids to relieve some of their stresses,” the AP Player of the Year said.
Fowles is focusing on the upcoming WNBA Finals that begin Sunday. The Lynx are facing the Los Angeles Sparks in a rematch of last season’s thrilling championship series.
Here are a few other notes from around the WNBA heading into the start of the Finals.
RATINGS BOON: After viewership decreased in the regular season, the WNBA playoffs are enjoying a strong showing on the ESPN family of networks. Viewership is up 6 per cent from last season, including an 8 per cent increase in the 18—to—49 demographic ESPN, announced Thursday.
MERCHANDISING: Elena Delle Donne had the top selling jersey in the WNBA this season, according to information put out by the league Thursday. Delle Donne topped Seattle’s Breanna Stewart, who led last year’s list. The Minnesota Lynx were the most popular team just ahead of Delle Donne’s Mystics. The Los Angeles Sparks, who will face Minnesota in the finals, were fifth. This marked the first year since 2012 that no rookie was among the top 10 jersey sellers.
MOTIVATIONAL: The WNBA held its annual Inspiring Women’s Luncheon on Tuesday and honoured Kimberly Bryant, who is the founder and executive director of Black Girls Code. The league also presented an award to Tennessee teacher Kayla Canario, who has made technology more accessible to her students. The final award was presented to Andrea Jung, who was the former chairman and CEO for Avon and the current president and CEO of Grameen America. Jung closed her remarks saying:
“If you are the first, God bless you, but never be the last. Look out for the people behind you. That is what WNBA is all about. That is why it is such an extraordinary privilege to be given this honour this afternoon and why — in a few minutes hopefully — you’ll take that thought and make anything I’ve done pale in comparison as you move forward.”