Indian Country Today
Jessica Joaquin still gets chills six years later thinking about WNBA rookie Shoni Schimmel’s electrifying performance in the 2014 All-Star game.
It was a basketball performance to remember, July 19, 2014. Schimmel, Umatilla, had already put Indian Country on alert with her exciting NCAA tournament play at the University of Louisville. On that hot Phoenix July night, she put the rest of the basketball world on notice.
Schimmel, voted by fans as a game starter, led the East to a thrilling 125-124 overtime win against the West. After, she raised the game’s Most Valuable Player trophy, a first for a rookie, to a crowd of nearly 15,000 on the Phoenix Mercury’s homecourt. Schimmel scored 29 points on six 3-pointers along with eight assists against legends of the game like Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and Sue Bird.
Joaquin, Tohono O’odham and Mercury fan, was one of many Natives in the stands, witnessing history as Schimmel, a bench player for the Atlanta Dream, gave WNBA fans a dash of rez ball.
“It was such an amazing moment for Native communities, Native sports and it was a day I will never forget,” Joaquin said.
Indeed, it was.
Schimmel was the first Native to play in the All-Star game. Her 29 points were a record at the time. She was also voted a starter in the 2015 All-Star game and scored 13 points. Her last game in the WNBA was in 2016 as a member of the New York Liberty
July 19, 2014, a game to remember.
To watch a replay of the game, click on the video below.
Here’s a history of the game:
The game, four quarters, 10 minutes each, was broadcasted by ESPN and Ryan Ruocco and Rebecca Lobo called the game.
Schimmel opens the game guarded by WNBA champion and MVP Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx star.
Schimmel touches the ball for the first time at 9:19 and the crowd gets louder. She misses her first shot moments later but has already wowed fans with her dribbling and passing.
“She likes this kind of game, I imagine, because she likes to be nifty on the floor,” Ruocco said.
“Yeah, she likes to be wide open where she can run and make exciting passes and plays,” Lobo added.
Ruocco mentions the great fan support for Schimmel at 8:12 left in the first quarter. Camera crews show Schimmel’s family in the crowd and fans with signs geared at Schimmel.
“Shoni Schimmel said she learned her freestyle ways in Street Ball Sundays on the rez,” he said.
Schimmel makes a 3-point shot, her first basket at the 5:26 mark.
“You could hear the reaction from the crowd, plenty of Shoni Schimmel fans have made their way here,” Lobo said.
Brittney Griner, a 6-foot-8 Phoenix Mercury center, blocks a Schimmel running shot at the 5:10 mark. It wasn’t the last time the 5-foot-6 guard challenged the big center.
“The biggest upset in NCAA history, Shoni Schimmel had a play like this on the other side of the hoop where she was able to finish it over Griner,” Lobo said. “This time, not so much.”
In 2013, Schimmel’s Lousville Cardinals beat Griner’s No. 1-seeded Baylor Lady Bears in the NCAA tournament, one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Schimmel made an iconic shot over Griner in the game.
Schimmel takes a seat on the bench with her team down three, 13-16. ESPN shows a brief prerecorded Schimmel interview.
A few game minutes later, Ruocco and Lobo praise Schimmel and ESPN shows a short highlight package.
Quarter ends with the West up 28-27.
Schimmel checks back in with 5:43 left in the quarter..
Schimmel scores a basket on a reverse lineup over the familiar Griner on a full court drive to the hoop.
“That last Schimmel shot was similar to the one she hit on Griner two seasons ago,” Lobo said.
The half ends with the East leading 57-53. Schimmel has 5 points.
Schimmel scores 9 points quickly early in the third quarter. She hits three 3-pointers in 77 seconds.
“Shoni Schimmel, you know that she can create her own shot. She can come alive and score so many in a short period of time,” Lobo said.
Schimmel takes a seat on the bench with a few minutes left in the quarter.
The quarter ends with the West up 86-85.
Schimmel checks back in with 7:23 left, with her team leading, 92-90.
Schimmel quickly scores two points on a floater.
“Shoni Schimmel is giving the crowd a lot to cheer about in this first all star game for the rookie,” Lobo said.
At the 6:13 mark, Schimmel delivers a slick overhead pass for an assist that gets the crowd cheering.
“She’s built for an all star game like this,” Lobo said.
A stop in play at 5:16 with the West up 99-98 and ESPN shows a quick highlight reel of Schimmel’s passing.
Schimmel scores with 4:50 left to give her team the lead, 101-99. She adds a deep 3-pointer seconds later.
“She’s taking over,” Roucco said.
Schimmel gives the East an 11-point lead at the 2:55 mark after a slick layup again over Griner.
Seconds later, Lobo praises Schimmel yet again.
“Coming into this game, we thought Brittney Griner was gonna provide all the ‘wow’ moments and be the one to make someone look silly, but that’s been all Shoni Schimmel.”
A timeout is called with the East up 110-101.
“So many times when I watch this young lady she does things like this and all you can say is, ‘come on now, give it to use one more time, Shoni’,” Lobo said as ESPN again plays a short highlight package.
The West went on a run and tied the game at 112 to force overtime.
The first overtime in WNBA all-star history.
The West jumped out to an early lead.
Schimmel hits a 3-pointer with 2:55 left, pushing her total to 26 points.
She hits her last 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to bring the East within one point, 123-124
“The rookie is showing no fear in her first all star game,” Lobo said.
“Shoni Schimmel is having an unbelievable afternoon,” Roucco said.
“Rez ball has been on full display here in Phoenix,” he adds.
East All-Star Tamika Catchings scores the final basket of the game with seconds remaining. The East won, 125-124. Schimmel finishes with 29 points.
In a post-game interview, Catchings gives Schimmel a shoutout.
“They call her Showtime Schimmel and she came out and put on a great show tonight,” Catchings said.
Schimmel receives the MVP trophy in an oncourt ceremony to a roar of the crowd. She thanked the fans. It’s “all for the fans, they gave me this opportunity,” she said.
After, Schimmel greets her many fans in the arena corridor and signs autographs.
Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter - @daltonwalker
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