Is Sylvia Fowles the Most Dominant Center in Basketball?

If you don’t know “Big Syl,” you better know: The WNBA MVP is part Tim Duncan, part Lisa Leslie, all heart. That makes her an unstoppably modern legend in her prime. Part of the B/R POWER 50 Level Up list.
photo of Laureen IratLaureen IratContributor IJuly 23, 2018


That's the best way to describe Minnesota Lynx center and reigning WNBA MVP Sylvia "Big Syl" Fowles—but for reasons that, these days, you'd never think.

While this era of basketball leans toward three-point shooting and positionless players, Fowles still holds true to a more traditional center role. Her shot-blocking, superior defensive consistency and post play—which prioritizes back-to-the-basket moves—reach back to the origins of the sport. That classic-with-a-modern-touch game puts her in an elite class of legendary bigs that includes Lisa Leslie and Tim Duncan.

In 2015, her first season with Minnesota, Fowles averaged 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, and she won Finals MVP, leading her new team to its third WNBA title. She made the Lynx nearly unstoppable, as they reached the Finals again in 2016 and won their fourth title in 2017, when Fowles won her second Finals MVP. Fowles is off to just as strong a start this season—her coach was ejected for arguing a non-call on one of the double-teams her superstar constantly draws in the paint.

While Fowles is already legendary on the court, her greatest asset may be her personality.

"She has such a big heart and never forgets anybody," Texas A&M assistant Bob Starkey, who was with LSU when Fowles played there, told espnW in September. Fowles even tried her hand a second career, taking classes to become a funeral director.

They call her "Big Syl," but they call her "Sweet Syl," too. Heart with the game to back it up? These days, that is dominant.


Laureen "Lo" Irat is the founder/editor of Beyond The W and a co-host of The W Podcast. Lo is also a freelance journalist and has contributed to espnW, Yahoo Lifestyle and more. Follow her on Twitter @BeyondTheW.

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4. WWE Women's Division
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6. Sylvia Fowles
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8. Shohei Ohtani
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10. Sabrina Ionescu

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