Monday, 23 March 2015
SKYLAR DIGGINS Feature-SKYLAR HIGH
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
"I'm not a woman that's an athlete! I'm an athlete!"-Skylar Diggins.
Beautiful! There you go. Lets get that out the way. We all know how pretty as a Sports Illustrated cover picture this young woman is, but there is so much more to how her basketball game looks than appearances that can be deceiving to those ignorant to what the women's game is really about...the game! Shock value! She's so much more to Tulsa's stock and you thought Oklahoma basketball just reigned with a forecast of Thunder, but even when they stole Seattle's Supersonics they forgot about the Storm. You see some men may sneer or leer but women can ball too like Michelle Wie clubbing with the men's majors in golf. Ever since the WNBA's league inception in the 90's the legendary likes of Lisa Leslie, Tamika Catchings, Chaminique Holdsclaw, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Candace Parker have been proving with point after point that the lipstick shouldn't fool you. Now with the likes of Maya Moore, Sky is showing the next generation of hoopers that the clouds above the arena aren't even the air time limit. You don't have to be Jeanie Buss to have a dominant influence on this game. Just look at Diggins standing next to Los Angeles Laker, NBA legend Kobe Bryant as a flagship athlete for Nike. Now admit you want these guys to just do it and ball, one-on-one in a new Nike, commercial spot. Diggins on Bean...the most competitive player on the planet. So much to prove...wrong! Right?
Here's a woman ready to give the Atlanta Dream nightmares. Showing the Windy air of Chicago where the real sky lies. All whilst bringing clouds to the Connecticut Sun. Leaving Indiana with an incurable Fever with no medicine. Sparking a fire against Los Angeles. Taming the Minnesota's Lynx and showing New York no Liberty, no matter how proudly that lady stands above the city that never sleeps. Rising like Mercury against Phoenix, to the Stars of San Antonio. Before she shows the Seattle Storm real reign, mystifying the Mystics of Washington. This is why Tulsa is such a great destination spot in Summer. Shocked? You shouldn't be. You may even catch a parade sweeping through on a good day...or week. This team has the talent for the next level...and some want to see Diggins in Hollywood with fellow young, hot star Candace Parker. Hanging around with the big names, like joking with rapper Drake and clowning with comedian baller Kevin Hart at the All Star Weekend Celebrity Game. Still, Diggins resides in the skies of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Until she comes down with the ball through the hoop for another shock to the syndicate system. Like her teams sponsors you can bet on her like Osage Casino to boost her team like the mobile provider. Still in a league whose jerseys have become like soccer ones or Formula 1 ones to the regret of real fans and the fear of NBA ones, the real name on this jersey lies with the number four. Although Skylar will argue rightly that its about the name 'Shock' and the awe of Tulsa. Preaching teamwork is the makings of dreamworks. An inspiring influence like her quotes that make the social media scanning, Pinterest punctuated motivation rounds for female and male, athletes and non such alike. Words of wisdom, so young like, "it's not about how big you are. It's about how big you play"! Now how monumentally soaring is that for anyone trying to reach the rim. Can you dig it?
Dig this! 90's baby, out of South Bench, Indiana, Hoosier State. Only 24 years old, 5 feet 9 and 145 pounds of pure tone and muscle, this is the look of the next generations best type of basketball player. Basketball player period. Man or woman. National Basketball Association or orange and white, ABA like ball. Now this league is having it's moment to rise too. No semi-pro or half-time circus acts. Just tricks on the hardwood trade. No D grade development, just A plus professionalism. The changing of the guard began in Washington High where Sky led her team to two state championship finals and one title on a 102-7 record for one marvel of a Panther run. Keeping them panting with numbers like 29 points per game, along with 6.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 5.4 steals and 2.2 blocked shots. The girl sipping Gatorade courtside won player of the year honours for Indy sponsored by that guzzling giant. Soon to become the golden arches of a McDonalds All-American although looking like she would never look twice at a Happy Meal...not even for the toy! Then the Si 'Face In The Crowd' turned down the legendary prestige of Stanford to fight with the Irish of Notre Dame for her freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years of college with her best years and the rest of her Women's National Basketball Association dream life ahead of her. Manning the point this young woman led the brakes of the changing of the guard, pacing the team with 4.8 assists and becoming a number 2, sidekick, secondary scorer all the way to a Final Four performance in just her second season. After years of advancing her team and holding single season steal records of 102 swipes. All whilst picking up Nancy Liberman awards and being considered for Wooden ones this girl wanted her own name to stick out from the plaque and pack. All this success from the college halls to the worlds stage of FIBA gold would eventually earn Skylar Diggins the honour of having her name called third by the Tulsa Shock in 2002's draft wind, season of next gen player change.
Refusing to see the grey like Dre and Diddy collaborators, Skylar's averaged 8.5 points per game, 1.9 rebounds per game, 26.4 minutes per game and a team high 3.8 assists as a rook, Diggins hit highs of 22 building her statistical and professional reputation for the Shock and WNBA. Still however just like in college, Skylar's sophomore year was her breakout year. In 2014 she became an All-Star a game leader in that respect and the WNBA's Most Improved Player. What slump? In the A.S.G. her 27 points where iced by a clutch lay-up leading to overtime. That season also saw her become the runner up in scoring with 20.1 point per contest. Her 5 dimes where good enough for fourth in the league, whilst she was 10th in steals with 1.5. This epic numbers game and her totals in points of 683 even bested the Tulsa Shock season record held by another big guard in Deanna Nolan. All this in not even a quarter century of life and a couple of years graduated to a professional career. Now 2015 looks set to be her year in a scorching hot Summer that will remind parquet purists that basketball never stops, even when Larry O'Brien is lifted to bring in June's sun. From the defensive aggression to the offensive finesse, you really are looking at the next star and great of this game. No matter the time of year. Soon you'll be able to spell the name right. There may even be an 'M' in there with a 'VP'. Still, you know Skylar she won't settle for that little title if its not a stepping stone towards the Big Dance of a championship. Putting Oklahoma on the map like Durant's Thunder. Basketball courtside conversations may bounce from end to end, from everyone from James Harden to Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook to some guy who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but there's more to consider. The San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls. Anyone in their right state of mind or play could claim themselves NBA champions. But this band of brothers should keep their sister associates in thoughtful consideration too. Players like Diggins prove this game is about individuals and teams, not gender and the battle of the sexes. Showing its about heart and soul, not chromosome. Boys, boys, boys, Dig wants her own place on her own throne. If LeBron is King. Than Skylar will be Queen!