MINNEAPOLIS - Rachel Banham has never been happier to be back in a Minnesota Lynx jersey, practicing with her teammates at Mayo Clinic Square on Monday.
The Lynx were in Phoenix last Saturday, and all Banham could do was sit and watch her former teammates on TV. That’s right, former teammates. Earlier in the week, due to a myriad of injuries and a dire salary cap situation, the Lakeville native was waived.
"It felt really weird, it was gross. I had major FOMO (fear of missing out), I was telling the girls ‘I miss you guys, I wish I was there.’" Banham told reporters after Tuesday’s practice.
The conversation wasn’t easy, nor was it fun, for Lynx coach and GM Cheryl Reeve. She’d prefer to be a coach during the season, and leave the front office decisions for another time. But it was a move that had to be made to adjust the roster, and Reeve said Banham handled it like a pro.
"I look for Rachel to be herself. It was not an easy conversation by any stretch, but it was necessary. We talked to Rachel about that, and it didn’t feel very good. It is actually one of the better outcomes that we could have, she only missed two games," Reeve said.
It’s probably not a conversation Banham ever expected to have at any point in her basketball career. She was a star at Lakeville North and led the Panthers to a state championship. She then went onto a great career with the Gophers’ women’s basketball program.
Banham spent her first four WNBA seasons with the Connecticut Sun, before coming to the Lynx in 2020. She played in 20 games last year. So far this season, she’s played in 14 games and is averaging 4.4 points and 1.1 assists per game in 11.5 minutes per game.
But for about a week, her basketball career was on hold and it was the last thing she wanted. She took the rare summer time off to head to the family cabin up north.
"Those first couple days really were rough. I was super anxious, it was just a weird feeling. I didn’t like it," Banham said. "I just had to kind of get away and get my mind right and understand the circumstance and understand that things are going to get better," Banham said.
The move wasn’t unexpected. In fact, Reeve sat down with Banham in the days leading up to the decision to lay out the plan, which was to bring her back in about a week if everything worked out right. That didn’t stop the anxiety and uncertainty from being there, even though Banham knew she had to trust the process.
"You guys all know this is the team I’ve always wanted to play for, the team I always wanted to be with and be around and represent. It felt weird, it just felt wrong, I was really sad. I also was staying positive knowing I was hopefully going to get back as long as everything went as planned," Banham said. "It was only a week, but it felt like forever. I’m glad that we’re done with it."
The good news is that Banham will be back in uniform and should see the court Wednesday night when the Lynx host the Dallas Wings at Target Center. The Lynx have won four straight and six of their last eight to get to 9-7 after an 0-4 start.