When the 2016 season ended, Tanisha Wright decided it was time for a break. The year-round grind of 12 WNBA campaigns and overseas stops in Israel, France, Poland and Turkey had taken a toll.
Despite a year away from competition, Wright still found a market for her services in 2018. Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve even flew into Charlotte, NC to personally recruit the proven defensive stopper.
A three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year at Penn State, Wright was drafted 12th overall by Seattle in 2005 and spent 10 years with the Storm. She averaged in double figures in points three times, including a career best 12.2 in 2009, was named to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team four times and helped the Storm capture the WNBA title in 2010. After signing with New York in 2015, Wright spent two years with the Liberty.
The 34-year-old guard and I chatted this week about her WNBA journey.
DZ: You guys have been on a pretty good roll, lately. You’re above .500. What’s been the difference?
WRIGHT: Just a little bit more focused. I think, just understanding what’s at stake. And just really bearing down and getting things done the way that we’re supposed to do it.
DZ: This is your first year here, with the Lynx, obviously. How long did it take you to fit in and know your role?
WRIGHT: I think I’m still fitting in, I think…with a group that’s been together for, however many years. Since what? 2011? Something like that. One year, or a couple months isn’t going make you fit in…So you’re continuously working at it.
DZ: How long did it take you to feel comfortable around the team and everything?
WRIGHT: I’m okay around the team…They’re all welcoming girls and they’re all great people to be around, so that’s fine. On the court, I just think it takes time and you need time.
DZ: You started playing in the WNBA way back in 2005, did you ever think you’d play this long?
WRIGHT: I’m not sure. I don’t think that, that was something that popped in my head but, (I am) enjoying the ride, enjoying being out here, enjoying being competitive.
DZ: As a player, as you get later in your career, what gets easier and what gets harder?
WRIGHT: What gets easier? Yeah, I’m not sure what gets easier. I think the grind of it all is something that’s always going to stay hard, especially if you’re a competitive person. Then getting yourself making sure that you’re in tip-top shape. Making sure that mentally you’re good and you’re stable and prepared for a WNBA season is always something that’s tough. But throughout the years you appreciate the experience that you’re able to go through, so all that is fine and you can enjoy that.
DZ: You took last year off, what was that year like for you, being away from the game?
WRIGHT: It was a good year for me. It was a good year for me to just relax, especially mentally. Not really have to think about, like I just said, the grind of preparing yourself for a WNBA season to compete at the high level. So just to be around family and to be able to do some other aspirations was nice.
DZ: I heard that Coach Reeve actually came down to personally recruit you to bring you back to the Lynx? How flattering was that?
WRIGHT: It was cool, it was cool, but for me it’s not something that makes or breaks things. Like I said, the situation here was the best situation for me. It was the best fit for me and ultimately that’s always going to make my decisions.
DZ: Just one last quick thing, you were with Seattle when they won the championship in 2010, now eight years later, what stands out about that?
WRIGHT: Just how we did it. I think it was a special year. It was a really, really special group. We enjoyed playing with one another, for one another. We came in every day business-like, got our work in, got our work done. It was just a special group to be able to do that with those ladies.
See more of David Zingler’s 2018 player interviews: