LOS ANGELES – The L.A. Sparks continue their fight for a postseason berth. They are currently 16-21 and hold the 8th and final playoff spot. It would be quite impressive to get to that point after all the injuries, illnesses, and adversity the team had gone through.
Right in the middle of that is starting point guard Jordin Canada. She has helped the team stay afloat this entire season with her wizardry on offense and tenacity on defense. With career-bests of 13.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 5.9 assists (5th in the league) per game as well as leading the WNBA with 2.2 steals per, Canada has emerged as the frontrunner for Most Improved Player this season. And some will debate she had been left off the all-star team.
Having previously won two WNBA championships with the Seattle Storm in 2018 and 2020, Jordin Canada signed with the hometown L.A. Sparks before the 2022 campaign. She re-signed with Los Angeles on a training camp deal before the 2023 season and, suffice to say, she’s more than earned her spot with the team as the starting one.
We caught up with Jordin at Sparks practice the day before they faced the Washington Mystics.
(This interview has been edited for clarity.)
THE SPORTING TRIBUNE: Jordin, how are you? How are family and friends?
JORDIN CANADA: I’m doing good. How are you doing?
TST: Good, good. In Media Day, I felt like there were just good vibes. The media felt there were good vibes everywhere. It’s like you ladies have had great camaraderie from the start. What’s your take on that?
JC: We just have a really great team, genuine people. Everybody loves being around one another. That’s the kind of vibe that you want. We have great teammates, great human beings, first and foremost, off the court. We just enjoy being around each other. Everybody’s on the same page so if we have a team like that, we can do great things.
TST: You had mentioned on other outlets that you found the joy in playing ball again. Is coming back to L.A. a huge part in that?
JC: Yeah. Having a big village of fans, family, and friends that have supported me throughout my whole career here in L.A., it does give me some sort of comfort of being back home. That’s what I love about L.A. I have so much support here and I can decompress when there’s adversity that hits. I can always dictate things into perspective when being around friends and family. Being back in L.A. definitely has helped my comfortability and being my comfortable playing.
TST: You’ve had an all-star-type of season. I remember you mentioned in a postgame conference that you’re in the best shape of your life. Did you just feel that this season was going to be that type of year? That a light bulb just went off and you were like, “I got it this year!”?
JC: I think a little bit of both. I put in a lot of work in the offseason and just trying to get back to myself and you know how I usually play. Being back in L.A., being comfortable, and just the type of season that I’ve had… being in (head coach) Curt (Miller)’s system has also given me a lot of confidence and just having your teammates and coaching staff who believe in me… that’s also really helpful as well for my game. But throughout the season, I just try to play with a lot of confidence and trusting the work that I put in.
TST: So you sort of envisioned this season for yourself? Fighting for a playoff spot and having an all-star type of season? Like you expected this out of yourself.
JC: Yeah, of course. You always want to expect the best out of yourself. I know what I can bring. I know what my strengths are. And just trusting myself and going out there and just playing freely, playing to my strengths. And just having confidence in that.
TST: How has it been playing for Coach Miller? He’s always mentioned that you were the head of the snake, so to speak. And he’s trusted you to play a lot of minutes, including, three times, the entire game.
JC: Yeah, he’s given me a lot of confidence in his system. I think I’m really thriving in just being given the keys to run the team and call things that I see. Like you said, me being the head of the snake, me being the spark, I know I have to bring my energy and effort when I step on the floor because I know my team goes as I go so I have to keep that in mind every single time I hit on the court. But, yeah, he’s definitely given me a lot of confidence and trusting me to run the team. When you have a coach like that that’s giving you the reins to be a leader of this team, it helps me a lot.
TST: Sometimes, I don’t know how you do it. You mentioned about energy, right? It’s like you’re from one spot to another; it’s like you’re teleporting or something.
JC: *laughs* I love to compete. I love the game of basketball. I love the joy that it gives me so I just wanna give my best every single night that I play.
TST: Your team keeps it level-headed. How does that happen? Because when you’re a competitor, of course, you’re gonna lose your cool at times. But you guys have kept it never too high, never too low. You guys keep it even-keeled.
JC: Yeah, that’s the mentality that we have. We understand that we’ve had a lot of adversity this year and understand that it’s a rebuild year. Not everything is going to happen all in one year and in one season. Like I said, we have great people on this team and great teammates that understand that when adversity hits, it’s how you respond and we have to keep our composure. We’ve done that… we’ve given ourselves grace in this process of this rebuild and the adversity that we’ve hit. Like you said: we don’t get too high, we don’t get too low. Just taking one thing at a time, one game at a time, and that has really helped us down the stretch.
TST: Did you always want to be a professional basketball player?
JC: When I was younger, I loved the game of basketball and wherever it would take me, that’s where I wanted it to go. But at one point, I did want to be an OB-GYN. Obviously, I don’t know if that’s still going to happen now. *laughs* I winded up being a pro basketball player and that’s something I also loved and dreamed of.
TST: Anybody you patterned your game after?
JC: There’s a lot of players. But first and foremost, Ivory Latta, she was my favorite when she was at North Carolina. I watched her a lot. Allen Iverson. Kobe (Bryant). Watched Kobe a lot. Rajon Rondo. Russell Westbrook. Those are some of the players that I tend to watch a lot and take my game after.
TST: Best thing you learned playing under Sue (Bird).
JC: How to create opportunities for my teammates. I think that’s the best thing that I learned from her. The thing she taught me most was just to play my game and just to play freely and not think about trying to be like her. So those are the two things I learned the most.
TST: Okay. Outside of basketball stuff. Favorite food.
JC: Hot wings or pizza.
TST: That sounds so good right now.
JC: I know, right? *laughs*
TST: Favorite movie.
TST: So I’m guessing if you weren’t a professional basketball player, you’d be a singer.
JC: If I never took the basketball route… it could be singing or it could be medical school. One of the two.
TST: Can we talk about your singing really quick? You have a really great voice.
JC: Thank you!
TST: Pretend you are a musician, are we going to go with pop/dance stuff like Rihanna or soulful like Anita Baker.
JC: I would do more of R&B. The person that I listen to a lot and could potentially see if I wanted to take on singing, it would probably be (Anita). I love her music. She’s kind of like the style that I want to mimic.
TST: If you were to form a girl group, who would be in that group? Anybody from the W.
JC: I would choose… I know (Atlanta Dream forward) Cheyenne Parker can sing so I would put her in the group. (Chicago Sky guard) Courtney Williams, she can sing, too, so I would put Courtney in it.
I’m trying to find somebody that is a rapper. I think (Connecticut Sun guard) Natisha Hiedeman is a rapper. So I might have to put her in the group just for switching up the flow. Those probably would be my three other people I choose.
TST: What is the most embarrassing song in your playlist?
JC: Most embarrassing song?
JC: I don’t think I have an embarrassing song. I listen to a lot of genres. I don’t have an embarrassing song like, “Oh, my God. I’m embarrassed to play this.”
TST: Last question, when we think of Jordin Canada, what do you want us to remember you by?
JC: Just how I impacted people’s lives in a positive way. That’s something that I take to heart. I’m really passionate about is how I can affect people, how can I make somebody smile on whatever they’re going through because you never know what people are going through. So I always try to approach people with kindness and try to be as genuine as possible. So that’s something I want people to remember me by.
We’d like to thank Jordin Canada for her time. Jordin and the Sparks will finish the regular season with a three-game road trip as they try to hold on to a playoff spot and break their two-year postseason drought.