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Mama Knows Best

Oct. 10, 2011
Oct. 10, 2011

Table of Contents
Oct. 10, 2011

LEADING OFF
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
REBORN LIONS
  • Three years ago they suffered through a winless season. Now, behind an offense that loves the comeback and a defense with a warrior at its core, the unbeaten Lions are restoring the roar

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
MLB DIVISION SERIES
  • The stage for the 2011 postseason was set long before Opening Day. Go back to '09, when three teams shuffled seven players in a trade that—unlike the playoffs—sent everyone home happy

BRANDON JENNINGS
NHL PREVIEW
Departments

Mama Knows Best

At 40, Taj McWilliams-Franklin has led the Lynx to their first WNBA finals

There are team moms, and then there's Taj McWilliams-Franklin, the unofficial matriarch of the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. Mama Taj, as she's called by teammates, can be strict (holding players to the team dress code); she can be sweet (hosting team dinners at her place); and—to the surprise of just about everyone—she can still play. A 6'2" forward-center, she averaged 8.3 points and 6.0 rebounds in 28.4 minutes as the Lynx raced to a league-best 27--7 record and their first WNBA finals berth. That McWilliams-Franklin (above) is doing this at age 40—the next-oldest player, Tulsa's Sheryl Swoopes, is five months her junior—is a fact the six-time All-Star is reminded of only while breaking down video of her performances. "The announcers mention it at least 20 times," says the 13-year vet, who had 8 points and 10 rebounds as Minnesota defeated Atlanta 88--74 on Sunday in the first game of their best-of-five series.

This is an article from the Oct. 10, 2011 issue

The secret to her longevity? McWilliams-Franklin thanks good genes and a rigorous diet for keeping her largely injury free. And she remains a tough mark because of her ambidextrous shooting skills (switching to lefty at close range) and knack for adjusting to her teammates' playing styles. McWilliams-Franklin picked up on many of rookie swingwoman Maya Moore's nuances by rebounding for her in drills. "The more we play together," says Moore, the league's Rookie of the Year, "the more comfortable we get."

How much longer will Mama Taj, who has three daughters of her own, look after the Lynx? "I've been asked about coming back next year," says McWilliams-Franklin, who signed a one-year deal last February. "But not by anyone who does any of the money stuff." As long as she's still out on the court, though, she plans on remaining one tough mother.

THEY SAID IT

"There's about five positions the guy can play. We kind of like what he does at quarterback."

DAVID SHAW Stanford football coach, after Cardinal QB Andrew Luck burnished his Heisman credentials with a one-handed sideline catch (left) to go with passing for 227 yards and three TDS in a 45--19 win over UCLA.

PHOTODAVID GONZALES (LUCK)PHOTODAVID SHERMAN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (MCWILLIAMS-FRANKLIN)