Eight months ago, Carolyn Swords announced her retirement and her plans to join the Las Vegas Aces front office as a marketing specialist.
Fast forward to October: The six-foot-six center just completed her ninth season in the WNBA after a Finals run and starter for the Aces.
Swords played a crucial role for the Aces this season after Liz Cambage received a medical opt out of the season and Ji-Su Park did not return from South Korea due to Covid-19 concerns. This left a major need for a veteran interior presence who could play significant minutes and knew head coach Bill Laimbeer’s system.
On May 19th Swords and the Aces announced that she was re-signed and would play another season. Her previously accepted front office position was questionable due to the bulk of it requiring in-game work, which would no longer take place in 2020. Swords was in touch with Laimbeer, who offered the veteran center a chance to return to the court amidst a tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounding front office work.
She jumped on the chance.
Swords filled the role well for Las Vegas after starting every contest and averaging the most minutes she’s played in her nine year career at 17.5 minutes per game. Her scoring average of 2.9 points per game may not look like a lot on paper, but that wasn’t Swords’ role for the Aces. Her role was to do the little things, the things that go unnoticed: Defend, rebound, set effective screens, not make mistakes and protect the basket.
The future is uncertain for Swords now that the 2020 Las Vegas run is complete. The Las Vegas Aces finished as a top team in the league and clinched the No. 1 overall playoff seed after an 18-4 regular season finish. The franchise reached their first ever WNBA Final’s appearance ultimately losing to the champs Seattle Storm in a sweep. Regardless of how it ended, the Aces proved a level of dominance that demands serious consideration as contenders in the future, and Carolyn Swords has played a big part of that.