Essence Carson, an 11-year veteran with the 2016 WNBA Championship-winning LA Sparks, has been dropping musical notes longer than she has been dishing dimes. Carson recently spoke with Billboard magazine about her stellar careers on the court and in the recording studio.
Here are the coolest quotes and best tidbits from the WNBA player with the best hair-and-goggle game in the business:
- The essence of music and basketball is the same because both require fluidity and focus. “The focus you have to have musically (in my classical training) is a huge advantage when it comes to focusing in on what plays are being drawn up on the fly. Also, the flow of the game of basketball. When all things are clicking and everyone is on the same page, it flows like a sonata would flow from one movement to the next.”
- Carson is a classically trained pianist. She began studying piano at age nine and went on to pick up the saxophone. She attended a high school for the performing arts.
- Carson is inspired musically by gospel, but also by legendary blues performer Nina Simone. Her R&B and hip-hop influences include: “Whitney Houston, Otis Redding, Temptations, Patti Labelle, Nina Simone, Earth, Wind and Fire, MC Lyte, Fugees, Lauryn Hill, and many more.”
- With assists from the WNBA and Women’s National Players Association (WNBPA), Carson recently completed an internship at Artium Records. The internship allowed her to learn from “the industry’s top music producers, leaders in pre-production, A&R’s, and music executives.”
- Carson’s pro tip for dominating in two male-dominated fields? “Each time you step on the court, into a studio, or into a conference room you must come with the confidence that you should be there. You approach it with the understanding that your gender may differ from your counterparts, but your skill-set is the same if not exceeding expectations.”
The Los Angeles Sparks clenched its second win of the season with a dominant showing over the struggling Indiana Fever. No Candace Parker? No problem. Nneka Ogwumike had a monster 25 points and 10 rebounds, while guard Odyssey Sims chipped in 17 points. Chelsea Gray had another solid performance with 12 points, 8 assists and 7 seven rebounds. Although the Fever had another dismal outing, Tiffany Mitchell and Kelsey Mitchell showed signs of life by scoring 14 points and 20 points, respectively. But who will be the player to create offense for this team? Kelsey Mitchell’s team-high four assists will not get it done. Additionally, Victoria Vivians was a nonfactor with 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 1 turnover in just under 18 minutes of play.
If Fever Head Coach Pokey Chatman does not find a formula to at least keep this team in games, it is easy to see Indiana going 0-34 on the season.
Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne had a monster performance, finishing with a game-high 23 points. She also pulled down 11 rebounds to add another double-double to her resume. Tianna Hawkins and Ariel Atkins put up big numbers off the bench. But the Las Vegas Aces gave the Mystics a run for their money, without Kelsey Plum (who is still playing overseas) and without Shoni Schimmel (who continued her preseason and regular-season streak of shockingly ineffective basketball). A’ja Wilson got it done for the Aces with 16 points and 8 rebounds, while Nia Coffey chipped in 14 points and Tamera Young contributed 13.
Although the Mystics managed to get the win, they have some issues to sort out if they hope to keep games close against top-tier teams like the Minnesota Lynx and LA Sparks.
The Atlanta Dream take on the Chicago Sky in the Windy City in a super early 12 noon EST matchup at Wintrust Arena. For fans unable to pop by the arena for brunch and basketball, the game is streaming worldwide on WNBA League Pass.
Previews for today’s late games will be coming at 5 p.m. EST.
Other happenings in women’s hoops
REASON TO CHEER
Yesterday, Albert Lee made a case for the WNBA being expansion team-ready. The increased viewership and abundance of skilled players who were waived before the start of the 2018 WNBA season point to the league definitely being ready for an expansion team. Lee proposed five cities he feels would make amenable hosts to a WNBA team. But perhaps a sixth city should be added to the discussion.
A CASE FOR CAROLINA
North Carolina is the center of the March Madness universe. It is a place where everything grinds to a halt while basketball players fill out brackets, binge-watch games, travel hundreds of miles to see their favorite teams play and, yes, wager hard-earned money.
Charlotte is home to the NBA’s Hornets and the city once had a WNBA team in the Sting. Unfortunately, citing low attendance in Charlotte (despite a new arena and better on-court performances), the ownership group of Robert Johnson, of Black Entertainment Television, and Bobcat Sports and Entertainment turned the team back over to the league in December 2016.
Despite a failure for the Sting to thrive the first time around, a Sting team version 2.0 would have a much better chance at success for two undeniable reasons: 1) Dawn Staley; and 2) A’ja Wilson.
Staley played for the Sting in her pro days. Since retirement, she has dominated the coaching ranks, steering the University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball Team to an NCAA Championship and becoming Head Coach of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team.
Staley has turned out some great players who are now giving basketball fans a show every night in the WNBA. Chief among Staley’s talented offspring is A’ja Wilson: a rookie with the Las Vegas Aces who is also a household name in the Carolinas even amongst people who don’t follow basketball. Reigning Rookie of the Year Allisha Gray, along with her Dallas Wings’ teammate Kaela Davis, are both well-known by basketball fans in the Carolinas as well.
With the University of South Carolina being a little more than an hour’s drive to Charlotte, it is hard to imagine Gamecocks’ fans would not make the trip for the opportunity to see these players again, whenever their teams happened to play in the Queen City.
Charlotte is also the hometown of Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry, who had been rumored to have an interest in buying the Carolina Panthers when it went up for sale. Maybe he’d like to make the investment in bringing a WNBA team back to Charlotte instead?
- From ESPN’s World Fame 100 list of most famous athletes, ESPNW devoted an article to the top 25-ranking women on the list. This is all fine and dandy until a closer inspection reveals a pattern not discussed nearly enough: society’s willingness to embrace female athletes in individual sports but not team sports. Here are some ugly truths: 1) The top 10 athletes on the overall list are male (with the highest-ranked female athlete, Serena Williams, coming in at #12). 2) Of the men in the top 10, four compete in individual sports (tennis and golf), while the remaining six compete in team sports (basketball and soccer). 3) Of the top 10-ranked female athletes on this list, only one is from a team sport while the remaining nine are from the individual sports of tennis, swimming, skiing, golf and badminton. The lone athlete in a team sport to make the top 10 list of female athletes? Soccer star Alex Morgan. The evidence is in: This society has an issue with women working in teams. (It also takes issue with women who don’t fit a certain beauty standard and women who are gay.)
- Good news! WNBA players are finally getting more high-profile endorsement opportunities. See: Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi.
- Put some jelly on that toast, lesbians. Here’s a look at life through the lens of Seattle’s gay power couple. We mean Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe, of course.
- On the pattern of “an outspoken, successful female coach win[ning] a judgment or settlement for her firing, while the man who oversaw the dismissal receives a national award and higher salary.” Ugly, but not surprising.
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