Tina Charles played a big role in Seattle’s Game 1 win over Las Vegas, posting 13 points and a franchise-record 18 rebounds on Sunday.
The pivotal performance came two months after Charles signed with Seattle and controversially left Phoenix following a contract termination. The former two-time national champion admitted that leaving Phoenix was not about her role in the attack, but about “protecting herself and maintaining the standards that she thinks players should have.”
As a member of the Wave, the former MVP joins a lineup filled with exceptional talent such as Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Lloyd. Surrounded by such two-way scoring talent, all the eight-time All-Stars decided to focus on was Mercedes Russell, who was recovering after going down with recurring headache syndrome.
“She was very professional,” Seattle coach Noel Quinn said on ESPN. She came with an “I’m willing to do anything you ask” mentality, and that was a good starting point. There was a consensus on both sides: She wanted to go in and win.
Since joining Seattle, Charles has averaged 12.6 points and 7.4 rebounds on 51.6 percent shooting from the field.
Charles’ presence in the paint and on the boards helped set up Seattle’s game against Washington and Game 1 against Las Vegas. Getting to know Bird, Stewart and Gabby Williams as UConn grads or Team USA teammates helped her transition to Seattle. Stewart said her game helped her have another big part in the lineup.
Bird said the lineup went well because Charles focused on “finding ways to play our style and complement hers.” It goes without saying that Sayat is used to playing against a dominant center like Charles throughout her career.
“What I’ve been able to do here is adapt, and I’m grateful to be able to show that I can adapt,” Charles said of the work it took to transition. “I’m proud to be a New Yorker, and that’s what we do: adapt to our environment, keep moving, and keep our heads up. Regardless of people’s opinions or what else. But, yes, when I made my decision to leave Phoenix, I knew there was a possible landing spot – that Seattle would be great.
Charles also explained that her game evolved before becoming a dominant post player. She says she takes advantage of every opportunity she gets on the court, such as stretching the floor and using her skills and basketball IQ in her games.
Seattle will look to take a 2-0 lead and move one step closer after Wednesday’s Game 2.