Only three weeks in, and already the 2022 WNBA season is generating plenty of buzz. First-year head coach Becky Hammon has the Las Vegas Aces playing well and sitting atop the WNBA rankings. Several other former players are now coaching, including Tanisha Wright, in her first year as head coach of the Atlanta Dream.
One of Wright’s former teammates, Bronx native Kia Vaughn, is making her presence known on the Dream roster. Wright and Vaughn never played together in the WNBA but were teammates and housemates overseas in Israel. “I feel like I’ve played with her my entire career because I’ve known Tanisha my entire career,” said Vaughn. “I’m not surprised that she’s a great coach.”
Now in her 14th season as a professional basketball player, Vaughn said all is going well in Atlanta. “I think I’m the most adaptable player there is,” she said. “It’s pretty easy to adapt here. Obviously, the city is beautiful. Lots of places to go foodwise. What’s on the court, that is great—love the coaches, the GM and the owners. The players are incredible so far. It’s early, but you can feel that.”
After some disappointing seasons, the Dream is rebuilding and looking to win. Vaughn said all the players are buying in, respecting each other and allowing everyone to be themselves. While there may be some inevitable frustrations as the season goes on, those can easily be resolved when people share the same goal.
Vaughn did not go overseas this past off-season, allowing herself rest and enjoying time with her husband of two years. She admitted that it still took some adjustment. Each day, she had to think of how to spend it.
The Dream has been recognized for player activism. Vaughn said things have been relatively quiet at the start of the season, but she anticipates action moving forward. “We’re worried about BG right now,” said Vaughn, referring to Brittney Griner, her teammate for two seasons on the Phoenix Mercury, who is currently detained in Russia. “All we can do is pray. We have to allow God to see her through this.”
Vaughn, an alumna of Rutgers, also acknowledged C. Vivian Stringer’s recent retirement. “She put so much in over these 50 years,” she said. “She left a footprint that’s bigger than life in women’s basketball. …. What she brought to this game lives on forever. She’s that important to women’s basketball.”
The New York Liberty is currently on a three-game road trip. The team returns to Barclays Center on June 1.