Lynx Jessica Adair Strives for Even More
After becoming a key role player for the Minnesota Lynx during their championship run, Jessica Adair continues to strive for more.
by Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
Prior to last season, center Jessica Adair had trouble finding a home in the league. Eventually, an opportunity came around with the Minnesota Lynx in their final game of the 2010 season and Adair was able to show enough to intrigue Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, prompting the team to bring her back for the 2011 season.
“I knew I was a basketball player,” said Adair. “Some things people can’t take away from you. After I was cut the first time, I had plenty of people tell me what I should be doing, a bit fewer telling me what I could do, but only I knew my capabilities. When I met Coach Reeve, she gave me very specific—and what I felt were achievable requirements—for her to take me seriously as a player. I trusted her. At that point, I knew I didn’t have to give up on my dream. Just work harder.”
With the expectations and roster the Lynx had for the 2011 season, the task of making a name for yourself amidst all of that may seem daunting. However, Adair was able to do just that throughout the year, becoming a key part to Minnesota bringing home the WNBA championship.
“I think the best improvement I made was to take criticism, break it down into achievable chunks and then master those chunks over time,” said Adair.
One of the people who may deserve the most credit—yet won’t accept much, if any—is Lynx assistant coach Jim Petersen, former NBA player, who also is the color commentator for the Minnesota Timberwolves broadcasts. Petersen and Adair could be seen working on her game constantly throughout the year and the benefits of that time together showed.
“He loves his job and he loves people,” said Adair. “His personable and approachable attitude makes it easy for him to inspire others. His passion is contagious; thus it’s easy for him to bring out the best in me.”
After Minnesota brought home the WNBA title, Adair’s focus became on going overseas and how to continue improving her game. While the summer of 2011 was a great moment in her career, Adair isn’t content to stop now.
“I am working on going stronger to the basket, finishing around the basket with the foul, variation of speed when executing my post moves and my perimeter game,” said Adair.
Another benefit Adair was smart enough to take full advantage of was the opportunity to learn from Taj McWilliams-Franklin or “Mama Taj,” as the Lynx call her. Each of the aspects Adair and her coaches laid out as the areas she will continue to work on are areas in which McWilliams-Franklin knows a lot about and Adair has been able to learn from a teammate happy to teach while winning.
“What haven’t I learned from Taj this year? The most important lesson I have learned from Taj is needed both on and off the court and that is patience. I started the season 11th man off the bench, but I knew if I worked hard and remained steadfast in my goal, I would get my opportunity. Patience while playing is also something Taj has mastered. Her variation speed makes her a threat no matter where she is on the court. I am working on this skill every day.”
Being able to see her work ethic and ability to improve upon her game up close for an entire season, the Minnesota Lynx re-signed Adair this off-season. While team policy dictates terms of the deal not disclosed, you can bet that as long as Adair continues on the course she is, she will be a member of the team for years to come.
“We all saw the growth in Jessica’s game as the season progressed last year,” said Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith. “She provided great energy off the bench and made tremendous strides in becoming an integral piece to our championship season. We’re looking forward to watching her continued development and we believe the best is yet to come for her.”
As the 2012 season approaches, the expectations of Adair are higher than they were at this time last year, which is exactly the way she wants it. She believes in herself, her coaches believe in her and if she continues to improve, she very well may be the starting center for the Minnesota Lynx for years to come. After all, Adair is only one full season into her WNBA career and still has a lot of basketball left in her legs.
“I hope that I will be Minnesota’s starting center someday,” said Adair. “I work hard every day to prove to Coach Reeve that I am just worthy to be a part of her team. As far as pushing Taj out, if you know anything about Taj, no one is moving her anywhere until she is good and ready…and we like her that way.”
The Lynx will return to Minnesota sooner than you think to begin their preparations to begin defending their championship. Adair is ready, but still can’t believe she was a key member of a WNBA champion.
“I have been truly blessed to be given an experience that some will never have in a lifetime,” said Adair. “Sometimes, it still doesn’t seem real.”
It’s real, Jessica, and you earned it with a work ethic that is inspiring.