Tina Charles is playing the best basketball we’ve seen her play in years. She’s leading the league in scoring at 26.2 points per game, a whole six points per game above the second-leading scorer Jonquel Jones. She might end up having the greatest scoring season in WNBA history.
Charles has been dominant since entering the league out of UConn. She was Rookie of the Year in 2010, was named WNBA MVP in 2012, is a five-time WNBA All-Star, and has broken numerous league records. But in 2020, all of that stopped. She missed the entire WNBA season, and no one knew how she would perform when she returned. She was also making big move by going from the New York Liberty to the Washington Mystics.
But at age 32, Tina has shown us that she has a lot more games left to play and many more years to dominate. So here is a look at Tina’s departure and stellar return back to the W.
A year away from the WNBA
In 2020, as the WNBA was looking to begin their season in the bubble, Tina announced that she would not participate because she has extrinsic asthma. Her condition made her high risk for Covid-19, and she was granted medical exemption. In The Players’ Tribune, she wrote:
My condition, called extrinsic asthma, impacts my immune system and would make playing during a pandemic a very risky and dangerous proposition. So recently the decision about whether to play or not was made for me when the league granted me a medical waiver for the upcoming season.
Fans of Tina and eager Washington Mystics enthusiasts would have to table their excitement to see Charles suit up for the first time in a Mystics’ uniform. She was acquired by the Mystics during the off-season through a trade that involved three teams: Dallas Wings, New York Liberty, and Washington Mystics.
With her track record of being great, many were looking forward to her debut alongside reigning league MVP Elena Delle Donne. Well, Elena did not play that season either due to her Lyme disease.
During her time away, she dedicated herself to supporting social justice causes and training. But despite her dedication to training, no one knew how she would return to the court. Would she be as dominant? Would that season be an introduction into her retirement? There were many questions, and only Tina could control that narrative.
Tina told the USA Today:
I was going to the gym every single day with my trainer. That was literally my day: Wake up, go drive to Brooklyn, and work out. That’s all that I was doing, just trying to stay engaged. Working on my game in the offseason and coming into this year just seeing the way that D.C. plays, I didn’t want to lack anything.
Fast forward to a year later, Tina’s hard work has paid off.
She’s back and on her way to breaking records
If you were to watch Charles play without knowing that she sat out all last season, you might be surprised. Tina looks like herself. In fact, she might look better than ever.
If the season ended today, she would hold the WNBA’s all-time record for the greatest individual scoring season. Diana Taurasi currently holds that record with her 2006 season performance of 25.3 points per game.
Charles has been consistently productive on a team that relies heavily on her to perform every night. Other stars like Delle Donne and Alysha Clark are out with injuries leaving much of the work to be done by Tina and Ariel Atkins, her Team USA teammate.
With the WNBA season back after their Olympic break and Tina having won gold with Team USA in Tokyo, this is shaping up to be a memorable season and year for Charles.
From sidelined the year before to pure dominance now, she has been fun to watch, and hopefully, she can continue to wow us during the home stretch of the WNBA’s regular season schedule.