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Dixon Seeks Solace In Indy
“I’ve been blessed,” said the 12-year veteran, who signed a free agent contract with the Indiana Fever on Monday. “My mom and dad had me at the right time, and I was able to play in this league right from the beginning.”
Dixon, 33, was never more appreciative for her WNBA experience than — while checking e-mail one morning in December — she was notified that her team, the Houston Comets, had folded.
Even in a sagging economy, the demise of one of the league’s most popular and successful franchises was a surprising jolt. Dixon spent three seasons in Houston after nine years with the Los Angeles Sparks.
“I think everybody with Houston was blindsided,” she said. “It’s an unfortunate situation for the league when you have a flagship franchise like that go away. It was a surprise to us.”
Dixon, who plays in a professional league in Italy in the WNBA offseason, will join a Fever team that will have a heavy veteran influence this season. Yolanda Griffith, a seven-time All-Star, signed with Indiana in February. Returnees Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas and Tammy Sutton-Brown also have been All-Stars. Tully Bevilaqua also returns in the backcourt.
Dixon averaged nine points and 1.8 assists last season, not far from her career numbers: 10.3 points and 2.8 assists.
“I feel like I can do a lot of the things I’ve always been able to do,” said Dixon, who was the 14th overall pick out of Kansas in the 1997 draft. “I’ve never had any substantial injuries and I’ve taken care of myself.”
There are no guarantees for Dixon. Fever general manager Kelly Krauskopf said she’ll have to earn a spot in training camp. But Krauskopf said the veteran guard adds a dimension that will help should the Fever advance to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.
“She’s not afraid of the big stage,” Krauskopf said. “If you look over the course of her career, some of her best performances have come in the playoffs.”
Dixon won championships with the Sparks in 2001 and ’02 and was named to the All-Star team those years and in ’03. She is eighth in WNBA history in assists (924) and 21st on the league’s career scoring list with 3,368 points.
But with veteran players like Catchings, Douglas, Griffith and Sutton-Brown around her, Dixon said she’s not concerned with statistics.
“I don’t make a lot of mistakes,” she said. “That’s probably what attracted (the Fever) to me. I play hard with whatever minutes I get.”
Dixon is already planning for a post-basketball career, taking online courses in pursuit of a master’s degree in business. She said she has made “quite a bit of money” playing professional basketball, though not enough to retire in her 30s.
Those plans are on hold, though. Dixon believes she has a “two-year window” left in the WNBA. If she lasts that long, she might be the last of the original members. Lisa Leslie is retiring after the upcoming season. The others are Vickie Johnson, Mwadi Mabika, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson.
“There aren’t many of us left,” Dixon said. “For the younger players coming up, you hope the league continues for a long time.”