October 4, 2022

Bird is an out, proud lesbian, but she acknowledged that, to some, “I pass as a straight woman.” She continued, noting that she’s also white, “small and therefore not intimidating, compared to Syl, who is black, dark-skinned, and has a certain stature, yeah, that’s 100 percent at play here.”

Fowles acknowledged it, but didn’t seem in the mood to elaborate.

“You think you have to do everything right, and then when you do everything right, you get noticed,” he said. “But for many reasons, that’s not the case.”

Fowles’ voice trailed off.

“Why do I have to work twice as hard to get noticed?”

She wished for a better future: that the next generation of bigs like her would be much better known, that the WNBA would find a way to promote all of its players. “Eighty percent of us are black women, and you have to figure out how to sell those black women,” she said. “I don’t think we’re doing it well.”

Fowles has done her best to pave the way for these changes. He has played in a way that will stand the test of time. “I’m proud of myself for being the same person from 2008 to 2022,” she said. “I’m not a pushover. I am a leader not a follower. I stand up and talk about things I believe in.”

In her final season playing the role of backcourt coach for a young and struggling Lynx team, she averaged nearly 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game through Minnesota’s 81-71 victory Sunday over Atlanta.

The fight for respect will now fall to other players as Foles embarks on a career that fits perfectly with a personality Bird describes as motherly.

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