WNBA star Napheesa Collier sat down with Boardroom to discuss her offseason life and where she sees her career headed.
Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier has known she wanted to play basketball since high school. She always envisioned making varsity and then playing in college before heading to the WNBA.
Collier detailed her love of sports to a crowd of inspired kids at the Nike Unite store in Las Vegas during this year’s WNBA All-Star Weekend. She spoke on a panel alongside other WNBA stars, including Atlanta Dream’s Alisha Gray and Indiana Fever’s Kelsey Mitchell. They spoke about their passion and dedication to the game. Collier told the kids that even though they are young now, they might have to miss some slumber parties and fun events to learn about the game. The Lynx standout said she has no idea what she would do career-wise if she wasn’t playing in the league right now.
“I love sports,” Collier said on the panel. “Even if I weren’t playing, hopefully, I would still be around the game somehow.”
Collier does love to read and said maybe she’d be an editor of some sort. Luckily, Boardroom spoke to Collier about her offseason duties and what life looks like off the court right now and potentially in the future.
Collier in the Offseason
For WNBA stars, the start of the offseason is often anything but a vacation as players from across the league gear up for the second act — whether that be playing overseas or diving headfirst into their off-the-court business ventures. Collier has tried a few different things in the offseason, and it’s been different each year. In her rookie offseason in 2020, she spent 10 days overseas in China preparing to play before everything was shut down when the pandemic hit. She came back to the States and played in the WNBA bubble season before heading to France in 2021, where she played for three months.
“That was my only overseas experience, and it wasn’t even full because I went for a half-season,” she told Boardrom. “In the beginning, I pictured myself playing overseas because that’s what everyone says you should do. I went to France, and I was in the most beautiful location with literally the nicest teammates I’ve ever had.”
Even with that good experience in her short stint overseas, Collier said she realized that that experience just wasn’t for her. She doesn’t regret trying since the opportunity is hard to turn down if you don’t have a backup plan.
“Unless it’s an offer I can’t refuse money-wise, I really enjoy being home around my family.”
Collier spent her 2022 offseason welcoming her first daughter, and for the past two years, she’s been doing league marketing with the W. She said this is like a supplement to the income that she would make overseas. Collier said league marketing works out great for her because she enjoys it, and it allows her to stay state-side. In the beginning, Collier said her competitive nature pushed her to play and work hard every day, but that changed after she had a daughter.
“I really play for her just because I want to be able to build a life for her that I think is worthy, and I want her to be proud of me and how hard I’m working,” Collier said. “She’s the reason why I do everything.”
Collier said becoming a mom has pushed her hard on and off the court to think about growing her wealth.
Collier’s envision for the WNBA offseason is bigger than shaping her own perfect experience, though, because, at the end of the day, she still loves the game, which is why she started building a new offseason venture.
Collier linked up with her former college teammate and current New York Liberty forward, Breanna Stewart, to launch a new 10-week professional offseason league called Unrivaled. The pair are currently fundraising to launch the league in either 2024 or 2025, and Collier said there is no shortage of interest from WNBA players itching for another opportunity to play on their own turf. Collier said she and Stewart really started building Unrivaled last December before officially announcing the league this past July.
Since there are little to no options for WNBA players to play in the US in the offseason and get paid to do so, Collier is hoping this league will open up more opportunities like that. Unrivaled will welcome 30 WNBA stars to play in three-on-three and one-on-one contests across six franchises.
“We want to change the narrative around women’s basketball. We feel like it’s trending in the wrong direction,” Collier said. “You hear a lot of college players saying they’d rather stay in college because they’re making more money and they’re getting more exposure, and it’s true. That’s not good for our league. We want to continue to grow and change that.”
To keep it fair, a special panel will decide who gets to play in the league, and Collier and Stewart will be trying out to secure spots of their own. Collier and Stewart are hyper-focused on securing financial backing so players can earn competitive salaries and stay close to home year-round. Unrivaled would run from late January to early March, leaving time and space for players to recalibrate, relax, and vacation if they wanted to.
What’s Next for Collier?
“I don’t know what I want to do when I’m done playing,” Collier said.
Luckily for her, that’s not a bridge she’ll have to cross anytime soon. She’s not sure if coaching is in her future.
“It’s a question I’ve been asking myself since I was in college,” Collier said. “I think it just comes with finding out what works best for me, and I’ve been dabbling in a few things, just trying to see what I like, so I’m going to continue to do that.”
No matter what she does, Collier envisions a life with quality family time and vacations, of course. For players who go overseas, Collier said that only allows for about 20 extended off days per year, with 10 days between the W and overseas seasons starting and 10 days after the overseas tour wraps.
“It’s like a machine that never stops, and when you’re overseas, you don’t have any time off,” she said. “If you do a full season overseas and then had to hop back into the W, what do you think that means for your game? That’s one of the reasons I don’t go; it’s not worth it to me. I understand why people do it, but for me, it’s not worth it because the deterioration you see with injuries and burnout is real.”
It’s safe to say another overseas season isn’t in Collier’s immediate future. One thing Collier is working on is her social media presence. She wants to get about documenting and sharing her life on and off the court, but it’s something Collier has struggled with. Above all, she wants to keep it authentic to her brand.
Collier is juggling a lot, from building her social media prowess to being a family woman, dominating on the court, and building a women’s basketball league. Still, she hopes to inspire other W players to venture out and try something new to earn that supplemental income and find out what else they’re passionate about. One thing Collier stressed to the kids on the Nike-sponsored panel is to continue practicing the game day in and day out while also investing in some off-the-court hobbies. She’s eager to continue learning along the way and sharing what does and doesn’t work for her.
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