Chicago Sky’s Diamond DeShields Covers WSLAM 1

Synonymous with magnificence and luxurious, whereas additionally being the toughest pure stone on earth, diamonds are shaped underneath excessive warmth and excessive temperatures. Carbon atoms bear a violent course of and yield a transparent substance valued all internationally. 

Diamond DeShields believes her identify fits her nicely. At 26 years outdated, the Chicago Sky guard has had her share of highs, lows and criticisms—most of which she’s not fairly prepared to debate. 

“Truthfully, if I needed to sit right here and discuss to you about it, we might be on the telephone for just a few hours. So it’s been, it’s been quite a bit. However, for me, to only be out on the ground proper now enjoying basketball is probably the most gratifying factor I might have ever skilled,” DeShields tells WSLAM. 

What she is keen to share is her basketball bucket listing for the following 5 years:

1) Be a WNBA MVP contender

2) Be an Olympian

3) Win a WNBA Championship 

And so beins a journey to unearth the uncommon expertise of Diamond DeShields. 

WSLAM 1 featuring Arike Ogunbowale, Diamond DeShields and Betnijah Laney is OUT NOW!

There isn’t any specific story behind her identify. Though, because the eldest daughter of Tisha and Delino DeShields Sr, it was a assure her first identify would begin with a “D.” 

“All of my siblings’ names begin with the letter D, in order that’s an actual factor in my household.”

Delino Jr is the eldest, adopted two years later by Diamond. D’Angelo, Denim and Delaney spherical out the opposite DeShields siblings. Whereas her identify might not have any particular that means for her and her household, it does evoke particular ideas, feelings and even track lyrics. 

“I really like to listen to it!,” DeShields exclaims. “Simply listening to the phrase ‘diamond,’ you hear it so typically. It’s cool to have it’s a reference for thus many various issues. I’ve embraced it, the completely different meanings of the phrase and what it might signify.”

“I feel that it matches me completely due to all of the issues {that a} diamond has to undergo. All of the obstacles and the stress and the method that it has to undergo. I feel that it’s very according to my life story and all of the issues which have occurred to this point.” 

Athletes raised DeShields. Her mom was an All-American heptathlete at Tennessee and her father performed 13 seasons within the MLB and is at the moment the Cincinnati Reds first-base coach. Sports activities are the household enterprise. It wouldn’t be arduous to think about that coming from such a pedigree brings intense stress. Nonetheless, that’s not how DeShields describes it. 

Being in a house of execs primed her for the following step, elite NCAA basketball. Taking part in on the College of North Carolina, DeShields gained ACC Rookie of the Yr and earned All-ACC First Staff and ACC All-Freshman Staff honors in the course of the 2013-14 season. Sporting No. 23 in child blue, she averaged practically 18 ppg for the Tar Heels and helped UNC to the Elite Eight. 

Her stellar rookie season could be the final she performed at UNC earlier than transferring to her mom’s alma mater, Tennessee. DeShields was humble and gracious but in addition obscure about her resolution which left her weak to criticism. She expressed she was sad at UNC however saved every other particulars to herself. 

The switch to Tennessee value DeShields a yr of eligibility, but it surely was the correct resolution then, as she took benefit of the time to get surgical procedure to alleviate extreme ache from a stress fracture in her left shin. At Tennessee, DeShields went on so as to add SEC All-Match Staff (2016), AP All-SEC Second Staff (2015-16) and WBCA Honorable Point out All-American (2016-17) to her listing of accomplishments earlier than forgoing her ultimate yr of eligibility. However, as soon as once more, DeShields fielded criticism for her resolution. 

DeShields advised ESPNW she was “content material with each resolution that I’ve made. I do know my coronary heart, and I by no means achieved improper by no person.” 

She stated goodbye to what she referred to as a mediocre faculty profession and went to Turkey to get her first style {of professional} girls’s basketball. By the center of her subsequent skilled season, DeShields was in New York Metropolis for the 2018 WNBA Draft, the place the Chicago Sky chosen her third general. 

DeShields shone brightly in her rookie season, averaging 14.4 ppg and 4.9 rpg and making the All-Rookie Staff. She adopted that yr with a standout season, averaging a career-high 16.2 ppg and bringing down 5.5 rpg whereas beginning all 34 video games. She garnered her first All-Star bid and capped off the weekend by successful the All-Star Expertise Competitors. And better of all, she helped the Sky snag their first playoff berth since 2016. 

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As was the case for many individuals, 2020 deflated DeShields progress towards her three objectives. As well, her departure from the Bradenton wubble once more sparked a dialog about her health, dedication and the like. So the “bullshit,” as Diamond calls it, had some impression on her, however she’s nonetheless not able to divulge to what extent. Not solely, not but. 

“I’ve a narrative, and I’m ready on a second. I’m ready on a second to inform it after I really feel comfy. However for proper now, it’s nonetheless being written out. So I’m very a lot nonetheless within the course of.”

As of this writing, DeShields has began all 22 video games for the Sky after enjoying in solely 13 video games final season coming off the bench. 

“I feel her degree of depth has been at an all-time excessive…She’s most likely not at 100%, however she’s near it,” Sky head coach James Wade advised the media on August 13. “She’ll discover a rhythm, and also you’ll proceed to see development in her as time goes on.” 

Midway by means of the 2021 season, DeShields is inching nearer to her 2019 stat line. However how shut is her finest in comparison with this season’s MVP tempo?

If we take a look at the final three WNBA MVPs—A’ja Wilson, Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart—DeShields is just a few share factors off their MVP season numbers. Wilson averaged 20.5 factors final season, about 4 greater than DeShields in 2019 (16.2). Moreover, the three most up-to-date MVPs shot no less than 46 % from the ground; DeShields is at the moment averaging 40 %. 

Attaining WNBA MVP has traditionally meant a visit to the Olympics. DeShields has gained Gold medals with USA Basketball on a number of events, together with the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup, 2015 World College Video games and the 2012 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup. All indicators level to her being on observe to make an Olympic roster earlier than later. 

Whereas the omission of former WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike referred to as into query the transparency of the USAB picks system, DeShields says she is aware of the place she stands. 

“I heard a variety of good issues about my probabilities so far as being on this previous crew. Clearly, it didn’t occur. However I get good suggestions from all of the coaches, so I plan on doing all the pieces that I can to place myself able to have it’s so apparent that it’s worthwhile to have me on that crew, that you may’t deny having me.”

DeShields’ third and ultimate purpose is to win a WNBA championship. The Chicago Sky hasn’t reached the convention semifinals since 2016, and due to this fact by no means because the new playoff format was launched in 2017. In two postseason appearances, DeShields and the Sky are 0-2. Nonetheless, with yearly, the crew grows extra skilled, and expertise issues within the WNBA. 

Take this season. The Chicago Sky have been 1-7 whereas former MVP and two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker was sidelined with an ankle sprain. Then, of their ultimate 10 video games earlier than the Olympic break, the Sky went 7-3, together with a franchise-best seven straight wins in June. 

Parker is a large assist, however DeShields rapidly mentions different veterans like backcourt duo Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot. 

“Candace is an additional emphasis on, like, the little issues, and the mindset and competing. However now we have veterans on our crew, and I don’t assume they get sufficient credit score for what they do and the best way that they lead us. Truthfully, a part of the explanation why I’m who I’m within the League proper now’s due to Sloot and Allie.” 

She’s leaning into the journey. “I’m doing all the correct issues. So, it’s solely a matter of time. What does Joel Embiid say? Belief the method. I reside by that. Belief the work, and the outcomes will come.”

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The Chicago Sky sit in sixth place as we went to press, adequate for a first-round bye however not adequate to skip single-elimination altogether. That doesn’t matter a lot for DeShields. After being on the brink two years in a row, she sees no purpose Chicago can’t discover their approach to a playoff collection.

“We simply need to consider in one another, belief in one another, belief in James, belief the system, belief the schemes. I don’t see why we couldn’t. I don’t see why not.”

DeShields believes that each one of her objectives may be achieved within the subsequent 5 years. After that, we will see the place the universe takes her. She’s proven an curiosity in trend, is a spokesperson of inexpensive eye care in partnership with Oakley and feels strongly about athletes growing a number of streams of earnings. Her days of enjoying abroad are coming to an finish. As an alternative, DeShields will focus her offseason on actual property. 

“I’m like a month or two out from acquiring my actual property license within the state of Illinois. Actual property is one thing that I get pleasure from, whether or not it’s as an agent, dealer, or as an investor. 

“I don’t wish to be a kind of gamers that’s like, Oh, shit, like, what do I do now? However, you already know, since you see it, you see it so many instances, you already know? I wish to be sensible about my cash, sensible about what I’m doing with it, the place I’m placing it, the place I’m investing.”

These subsequent 5 years, on and off the court docket, are all about including worth to her legacy. So we requested once more. What does her identify imply? How does DeShields embody the uncommon fantastic thing about a diamond? 

“You realize, I feel that I might most likely be the other of it,” she says. “All my life, I assumed I used to be particular. However, the fact is, while you undergo life and also you get humbled in a number of the ways in which I’ve, I simply really feel like all people’s particular. I hope that when it comes time for me to inform my story that I can encourage anyone. Everyone goes by means of stress conditions, however, I really feel like there’s a diamond in all of us to be found, you already know?”


Go behind the scenes with Diamond, Betnijah and Arike for his or her WSLAM 1 cowl shoot!

Portraits by Raven B. Varona. Comply with Ravie B. on Instagram, @ravieb.

Motion photographs through Getty Photos.

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