There’s something to be said about growing up in a city like Los Angeles, especially when you pursue and achieve your dreams of becoming a professional athlete.
For Jordin Canada, there’s so much more to her dream.
There are championship vibes that buzz in and around her L.A.’s professional teams, with the Lakers winning the NBA Championship and Dodgers winning the World Series in 2020, and the Rams winning the Super Bowl in 2021.
“Growing up in L.A., it’s just a sense of pride and sense of swagger about us,” Canada said two years ago during an introductory Zoom when she signed with her hometown Los Angeles Sparks.
It would be a dream come true for Canada if she helped deliver her hometown organization’s fourth WNBA title.
The two-time champion who won titles in Seattle is approaching her second season with the overhauled Sparks, and couldn’t be any more thrilled about the complexion of this year’s roster.
“I think the team that we have is a very solid team,” Canada said during an exclusive Zoom session with The Sporting Tribune. “And I’m super excited about going to training camp and getting after it and competing. And I think we’re going to do really well this year. So I’m excited about it.”
Canada is currently playing in Athletes Unlimited’s second-ever season, honing in on her individual skills while building chemistry and bonds with 43 other women who are competing in this year’s league that is taking place in Dallas, including Sparks teammate Lexie Brown. All things included, Canada is getting an overload of positive vibes in time for what some believe will be a bounce-back season.
The Sparks endured a rigorous 2021 campaign, with a multitude of injuries, a mid-season coaching change after dismissing Derek Fisher, and the abrupt exit of Liz Cambage.
For Canada, who was a McDonald’s All-American at Windward High School and two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year with UCLA, she absorbed last season constructively.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say frustrating,” said Canada, a mid-range threat who boasts a career 38.6 field-goal percentage. “I mean, I love to win, I love to compete. So obviously, you never want to lose, I never want to lose. But I think for me, last season just gave me a different perspective. Every season is not going to be perfect. Everybody, at some point in (their) career, is gonna go through a terrible season or a bad season. We were dealing with a lot of changes last year. And I think that kind of just played into our season. You got to give yourself grace for that, you have to think about the bigger picture. So for me, I had to give myself grace.”
“It’s just unfortunate circumstances that happened last year … that you wouldn’t normally see in the season. I find last season to be an asterisk.”
Thus, she’s turning the page, and cleansing her mental game by enjoying the final stretch of her offseason thriving in Athletes Unlimited, a league where rosters change every Sunday, with four captains drafting new teams of 11 players each.
Averaging 16.7 points per game and 5.1 assists through six games, Canada has been a favorite over the first three drafts.
And with development coaches in Dallas for the AU season, she is spending off days working on her game in time for Sparks training camp.
“I think Jordin has one of those charismatic careers where she’s never gonna do too much, but it’s gonna always be effective,” Atlanta Dream second-year player Naz Hillmon said. “I think that’s what makes her who she is, and I think that’s a really great thing. It’s really dope.”
Canada believes incoming coach Curt Miller, who guided the Connecticut Sun to the WNBA Finals last season, and general manager Karen Bryant have succeeded in assembling players who will buy into the first-year coach’s philosophy.
From versatile players to lethal scorers to lockdown defenders, to role players – Canada believes the Sparks can challenge anyone and will make a run at the postseason.
“This year is a completely different team with a lot of key pieces that are coming back, but also new players that I think will definitely change the dynamic of our team from last year,” said Canada, who knocked then knocked on wood and said the Sparks would return to the playoffs. “I’m really confident in the team that we have, that we will make playoffs and we will be making some noise.”
From Miller’s vantage point, the feeling’s mutual in what Canada can provide, especially after playing alongside Hall of Fame-bound Sue Bird in Seattle.
“She is a dynamic point guard that impacts both ends of the court with her quickness,” Miller said when Canada re-signed with the Sparks. “We will rely on her to create tempo and pace offensively while asking her to be a disruptive defender on opposing guards.”
It’s a style of play that immediately impressed veteran Odyssey Sims in Dallas, just after one week in Athletes Unlimited.
“She has two (WNBA) championships for a reason, she knows how to win, she’s a good leader, she says what needs to be said at the right time,” Sims said. “She learned from the best. I mean, not everybody gets to play alongside or with Sue Bird, who was a legend. So I think her having that experience, what she experienced with Seattle, and being able to have her freedom now in LA, you know, play her basketball, get back to her where she’s been scoring a lot more. You’ve just been seeing a little bit of everything.”
This takes us back to her dream, which she understands would add to the organization’s long-standing lore that she said will never be forgotten.
“I think L.A. will always be one of the franchises in the ‘W’ with the history behind it,” Canada said. “And I think that will always stand no matter where we are in the season or how well we’re playing, I think L.A. is always a place that people want to come to regardless, because of the history. And I think in the years to come of our rebuilding, and Curt being our coach, I think people will start to realize that L.A. never left.”