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Skylar Diggins-Smith on investing and pay fairness, the Mercury’s Finals run, the Olympics, and extra

It’s been a banner yr for Skylar Diggins-Smith: an Olympic gold medal, her third all-WNBA first-team choice, and the deepest postseason run of her profession in yr two with the Phoenix Mercury. And now, like all WNBA gamers, she’s getting again to work throughout her offseason, working with to assist spotlight conversations about women’s pay equity and investing.

Diggins-Smith has long been vocal about the wage gap between feminine and male athletes, making this new enterprise to assist promote monetary literacy a pure match. She spoke with SB Nation about this new position with alongside together with her Olympics expertise and the Mercury’s 2021 WNBA playoff run, which led to a Finals loss to the Chicago Sky.

Observe: This interview has been evenly edited for readability.

SB Nation: Let’s get began speaking about this partnership with Public. I used to be really hoping you possibly can assist me out and simply clarify what your position is?

Skylar Diggins-Smith: Oh yeah, that’s query. So with Public, the chance simply form of studying extra about investments and investing. Clearly, I’ve a son, I’m a mother now, and so I positively have been searching for extra alternatives to simply achieve monetary literacy, studying extra about investments. And I’ve all the time been actually obsessed with talking out on the pay hole, particularly within the WNBA, but additionally simply making an attempt to curate areas for individuals to have these conversations about investing, cash, and you recognize, not be so taboo about it, if you’ll.

However yeah, simply studying extra about wanting to speculate personally after which additionally making an attempt to curate areas for us to speak about this stuff, particularly amongst girls, you recognize, and many others, and many others. So actually, I assume my position: first, I’ll be becoming a member of the million different customers on the app simply sharing perception about my journey with investing, and all the classes that I realized alongside the best way. After which I’ll be becoming a member of Public Reside, which is a characteristic contained in the app the place I can share my story with the group, to share some tales about my early days within the league and the way we within the WNBA fought for the CBA, fought to cut back the wage hole between our leagues, and form of how that keenness about investing is available in a few of these tales, so on so forth.

After which lastly, I’ll be an advisor to their program referred to as One Staff… I’m positive you’ve got (heard about) the NCAA athletes now with the ability to get these NIL offers and endorsements. First off, want we had that after I was at school, however I believe it’s an excellent alternative for student-athletes to study, and have alternatives to achieve monetary literacy at that second with this new alternative. I used to be lifeless broke in faculty, I didn’t have any cash to handle to even find out about this stuff. However now with these distinctive alternatives, and the scenario these student-athletes are in, simply making an attempt to show them about investing. And so hopefully, my position will simply be form of offering my perspective as a student-athlete, and now as an expert athlete.

After which lastly, simply making an attempt to create some generational wealth for my son. That’s just about one in all my most important objectives, clearly, being a mother and simply sporting so many hats. I’m excited in regards to the partnership with Public. I actually liked to listen to how numerous the app was, you recognize, 40% girls, 45% individuals of shade and simply having these areas the place these numerous opinions can reside. And like I stated, to curate extra areas the place we will speak about cash and investing and pay fairness extra transparently.

SBN: I used to be not a university athlete, however I’m a girl of shade, in order that half actually pursuits me. I’m curious what kind of classes you hope to share with girls and folks of shade who most likely don’t take into consideration investing all that usually. What are you hoping to get by to them?

SDS: Simply making an attempt to have these areas the place individuals can come and we will simply speak. For me, it’s actually simply going to be my journey as I’m navigating by investments and changing into extra obsessed with studying, about being a long-term investor, and many others, and many others. Hopefully I can share a few of my classes and issues that I’m studying alongside the best way and in addition get some recommendation from different individuals who know the ins and outs of the app as I proceed to navigate by it. I’m trying ahead to, simply making an attempt to personally and selfishly first, construct my very own portfolio and proceed to do this. After which, unfold my story, my blueprint, and see if my story will help any individual else.

SBN: How did you get began on this journey of yours wanting to construct your portfolio and make investments?

SDS: I imply, I play within the WNBA, so I’ve simply come into this community of girls who perceive the significance. We clearly don’t make thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands up entrance. So it’s plenty of different girls that I’ve been impressed by, that I realized from previously about saving cash, simply different methods, and now we have plenty of entrepreneurs and small enterprise house owners within the WNBA, plenty of buyers. So plenty of my recommendation got here straight from that group, if you’ll. After which clearly, like I stated, coming from being lifeless broke in faculty to really having cash to handle, it’s simply one thing that I needed to study. And also you assume you’re alone, typically, personally, I used to be form of embarrassed to ask for assist and issues that you just really feel like you need to already know that you just simply don’t, and so there’s actual world issues that I needed to study in that journey and every thing to return with that. So yeah, simply that complete expertise and for me, like I stated, simply making an attempt to — it’s a bit redundant — however that generational wealth half is so essential to me, simply making an attempt to resolve some issues for my son that hopefully he gained’t must take care of when he will get older.

Dallas Wings v Phoenix Mercury - Game One

Diggins-Smith grew to become all too aware of the gaps within the CBA regarding motherhood after she performed the 2018 WNBA season pregnant after which handled postpartum despair.
Picture by Barry Gossage/NBAE by way of Getty Pictures

SBN: You talked about that you just’re part of this community of WNBA gamers who’ve helped you reply a few of your authentic questions. We speak loads in regards to the compensation for WNBA gamers, however I’m curious what sort of job the league does by way of supplying you with that monetary schooling. Is that one thing that’s prioritized or some one thing that the PA talks about?

SDS: I imply, we positively have as I’ve been within the league, this will probably be my tenth yr subsequent summer season. We positively have developed as a league and it’s been from the legwork of plenty of gamers, former gamers having these conversations about issues that we want. You simply give it some thought, after I had my son in 2019, it wasn’t even talked about in our CBA about motherhood, or postpartum, or something like that. In 2019.

So we’ve positively made strides in our league to verify we convey forth the assets that we want, not solely simply on the court docket, because the athlete, however simply embodying in us with all these hats that I talked about earlier: mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and many others, and many others. Every thing that that embodies, simply having these assets obtainable. So I positively must say we’re doing a greater job of that, simply listening to the gamers. The league listening to us, telling us what we want, particularly final yr within the bubble, you recognize, lots of people, plenty of conversations round psychological well being that we weren’t having, we needed to tackle head on. And so I believe our league is one which positively leads by instance, now we have a unified message, and we positively have been getting responses about what we want by that.

SBN: On that observe, what different monetary schooling assets do you assume you wish to see the league have the option that can assist you out with?

SDS: I assume I don’t know how you can actually reply that query, as a result of I’m only one/144 piece of the pie. However we all the time can discover methods to get higher, you recognize, and supply extra assets to the gamers…particularly to plenty of the youthful gamers and the rookies, simply form of explaining a few of these issues, as a result of like I stated, plenty of them are doing for the primary time. So positively on the entry degree place. I’m positive there’s different issues that we might be doing. However like I stated, I’m enthusiastic about this partnership, and educating different individuals about what this app can convey to the desk, how they’ll get entangled. And yeah, simply spreading the phrase.

SBN: I’ve heard in regards to the NBA Rookie transition program, and I ponder how onerous it should be for WNBA rookies since you play within the event, like three days later, you’re drafted, you then go to camp. When is the time to find out about all of this stuff?

SDS: Yeah, and it’s the timing of the seasons too, proper? As a result of plenty of the WNBA gamers play abroad, like my teammates that performed within the championship with me two weeks in the past, they’re already enjoying abroad.,

SBN: Proper, I was watching Brittney (Griner) on Wednesday.

SDS: Proper precisely, BG’s over there, Shey Peddy is. I see my group enjoying already, and I’m nonetheless drained. The motor that these girls must have, which is why, you recognize, you play, you play, and also you play, and it’s actually essential to have the opposite aspect of issues after sports activities stops and have these conversations about how you can construct monetary literacy, as a result of it’s onerous to play year-round with it. After which to return right into a system the place you don’t have the summer season league like the lads have, you don’t have all this time to organize your rookies for the WNBA, for the league, what that may imply, and so forth and so forth. So, such as you stated, I’m positive there’s concepts of different issues that we might convey to the desk, and that’s what I hope to convey are a few of these conversations that now we have. How can we get higher not simply solely in my business, however in each business the place this pay hole exists?

SBN: I’m simply fascinated about having to file taxes in separate nations too, that simply sounds actually sophisticated.

SDS: Sure! And in separate states, you recognize, now we have to file in like 11 totally different states or 12, nonetheless many states we play in, and it’s loads. So I believe we positively can proceed to, clearly, I’m positive it’s developed since I’ve been within the league, and I can’t say I completely know what they provide now, however I want I might have went extra in depth, and folks would have inspired me to form of go extra in depth with a few of these questions, as a substitute of being form of embarrassed.

SBN: This was additionally an unimaginable season for you on the court docket. And I wished to know, what accomplishment are you most pleased with from 2021?

SDS: Oh, wow. Effectively, I’ve to say, it was a particular yr for positive. And I knew gearing up for it, making ready for it earlier this yr. I didn’t know if I might be on the Olympic group or not. I felt good about my audition, however you simply by no means understand how the committee goes to select, and so I used to be making ready myself for that, and making ready myself to win a championship with this group, felt prefer it was particular and we lastly had all of the items to make our run. However I say the Olympic gold medal was most likely the second for me, although I could haven’t performed as a lot as I wished to. That second, simply actually it was a lifelong dream, to simply take into consideration, you recognize, all of the moments — to not sound all corny and tacky — however again after I was a child, watching on TV and watching the Olympics earlier than the WNBA began, I all the time had gold medal aspirations. And in order that was an enormous objective off of my checklist. And simply to go there, that distinctive expertise of every thing that was occurring in Tokyo, and the pandemic, and I used to be away from my son and husband, and it was actually a character-building time, if you’ll, for me. However simply to get by that have, and to return out with a gold medal, it was positively gratifying for me.

Women’s Basketball Medal Ceremony - Olympics: Day 16

Picture by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Pictures

SBN: Not with the ability to play as a lot as I’m positive you’d have appreciated on the gold medal group, what kind of motivation did that offer you for the remainder of the yr and even trying forward?

SDS: Yeah, I imply, positively, you recognize you’ve got roles on the group, and it’s what it’s. And like I stated, I don’t really feel like anyone shouldn’t have been enjoying, it was no Delilah spirit on me. I used to be joyful for everyone that was enjoying, and I used to be joyful for our group to win. That was the final word objective was to win. So I actually simply tried to maintain the primary factor the primary factor, and that stored stored me by. The toughest half really was being away from my child. My two yr outdated. It was actually onerous. That was the longest clearly, you recognize, I’ve been spoiled with time within the pandemic, to simply be with him and be in the home greater than I’m used to, and touring approach much less. So I received used to that and simply being away from him for 3 weeks, nearly a month, it was simply unnatural for me, if you’ll. You might have your routines that you just attempt to create in your youngsters, I actually am fingers on, like we don’t have a nanny, we don’t do daycare. That was just about the toughest a part of getting by that have.

After I actually wasn’t enjoying, it was like, dang, I don’t have like my child right here. However yeah, as a competitor, I’m a competitor, so I wish to play within the rattling recreation. I wish to compete. I wish to be on the market in that have, and so what I took away was way more than like on the court docket, if you’ll, is what I’m saying. And I actually felt prefer it was an enormous a part of my maturation course of, similar to as a vet and simply having to take all of it in. It’s simply form of a humbling expertise. Like, okay, after I get again, I wish to step my recreation up. I would like us to make a run, and I wish to, you recognize, probably not present to anyone else what I might do, however simply proceed to show to myself what I do know I might convey to the desk.

SBN: Even in these practices, I’m positive you realized loads simply from with the ability to go towards that caliber competitors frequently.

SDS: Positive, that’s each night time although within the WNBA. These girls I knew very properly as a result of you recognize, it’s solely 11 different groups that you must face. So like I stated, it was one of the best of one of the best although, and such as you stated, simply even a few of these runs that we had in follow, these received intense. However I form of used these practices as video games for myself and to push my group and you recognize, if I used to be on the scout group, I used to be going onerous making an attempt to get the starters prepared. And I’m sitting behind two five-time Olympians, so I positively simply took the expertise in as a complete and it actually wasn’t about how a lot I performed. It was the truth that I used to be one in all 12 that had that chance, and capitalize on it.

SBN: So that you come again, you and Diana (Taurasi) and Brittney, and you’ve got this actually nice second half of the season with Phoenix. Clearly plenty of expertise on that group, however you’ve been on groups with plenty of expertise earlier than. What was it about this Mercury group that was capable of come collectively prefer it did and make that run to the Finals?

SDS: Yeah, I believe some individuals assume it’s nearly expertise. And clearly, it’s essential to have gifted groups, however all people can play basketball and actually, it’s nearly discovering out which gamers match with one another. As a result of I’ve been on groups which are as gifted, but it surely’s simply all about match. And I actually felt like personality-wise, on the court docket, off the court docket, we simply match one another and actually received plenty of time with this lengthy season to find out about one another. Clearly, I performed with BG and Diana within the Olympics, so we received to spend so much of time collectively and speak, and going by that have with them, that simply does much more after we received again. And I believe all of us have been motivated as a result of we hadn’t spent plenty of time on the court docket due to D’s accidents and folks being out. So this actually was our first alternative we felt like for a stretch of video games the place we might all play collectively and you recognize, at that time, we have been nonetheless preventing for playoffs place.

And yeah, it simply form of got here all the way down to that with all people becoming, after which gamers stepping up like Sophie Cunningham and Shey Peddy and Bri Turner. And, you recognize, clearly, we misplaced Nurse which was an enormous blow for us when Kia Nurse went down together with her ACL, that was simply emotionally devastating on high of we had performed probably the most video games out of anyone in the entire event. And so we have been already exhausted. However a lot respect to Chicago, clearly. That’s the style in my mouth, nonetheless, I’m not abroad enjoying, so you recognize, I’ll simply use it as motivation. However it was their second and it was a tricky fought sequence. The entire WNBA playoffs, we had one-point video games, we had additional time video games, we had blowout wins, blowout losses. The matchups have been intense, we received to see form of that East Coast/West Coast old-fashioned matchups. It was enjoyable. Clearly, it didn’t end up how we wished to but it surely’s little doubt in my thoughts that with the group that now we have, it needs to be on our minds to run it again subsequent yr.

Phoenix Mercury v Las Vegas Aces - Game Five

Diggins-Smith had 14 factors and eight assists because the Mercury defeated Las Vegas on the street to advance to the Finals.
Picture by Ethan Miller/Getty Pictures

SBN: You form of hit on this already, however that is your first time having performed in a sequence within the WNBA playoffs. So what did you study in regards to the degree of play and about your individual recreation? What do you must enhance to be able to get a greater end result subsequent time?

SDS: I imply, it’s actually stamina within the sequence and actually settling in. After all, hindsight is 20/20, as I sit right here and Monday morning quarterback, I might let you know all of the issues that we should always have would have, might have, but it surely simply comes all the way down to settling into the sequence. You actually can’t get too excessive or too low as a result of it might change like that. You up 1-0 and you are feeling nice. After which they tie it, after which perhaps not! And so it’s actually plenty of feelings, however you’ve got to have the ability to keep within the second, and that’s what I actually realized. You might be down, you possibly can be up, you possibly can be on the street. However you must simply keep locked into the second and keep current.

I don’t know if would change an excessive amount of. I imply, clearly, we want we had a possession or two again, dropping shut video games and in Recreation 4, significantly. But when I might change something, I might change us profitable two extra video games. However yeah, I imply, I felt like we did all of the issues that we might to organize, to organize for the second. And I simply really feel like they executed higher than us. Typically it’s similar to that. Typically it’s Lemony Snicket, it’s a sequence of unlucky occasions, issues that occurred, you recognize that they had the momentum they usually actually capitalized off of it. So, like I stated, I believe that was simply their second.

For me personally, no matter I did within the final offseason, I wish to try this occasions two. And, you recognize, one of the best trainer is expertise. So me now having gone by that, understanding what to anticipate, I believe I’ll come again with a extra sense of calmness, not like I’m strolling right into a haunted home or simply not understanding what to anticipate. You recognize what I’m saying? Now I form of know what to anticipate. I’ve that have beneath my belt. And hopefully I can method that with a degree, like I’ve been right here earlier than mentality. And it’s little doubt that I didn’t play like I wished to play in that sequence, and in these sequence, but it surely’s only a studying lesson for me and like I stated, that’s the style in my mouth this complete offseason. Simply utilizing it as motivation, coming from a 5-seed, going all the best way to the championship, you recognize we’re overcomers. So I don’t wish to be destructive about what we achieved this yr, however we perceive what now we have to do now. And hopefully, we will preserve this group collectively for one more probability to make a run.

SBN: I’m inquisitive about the truth that so a lot of you guys on Phoenix performed within the Olympics, after which it appeared such as you ran out of fuel by the tip of the season. Whereas Chicago, solely Stefanie Dolson and Astou Ndour-Fall from their rotation have been within the Olympics. Do you assume that type of had an affect on simply your means to maintain up with the Sky?

SDS: Effectively, I’d say outdoors of that third recreation. Clearly we performed a fifth recreation (within the semifinals) they usually didn’t within the sequence, and they also beat Connecticut in 4, we went to Vegas, performed at Vegas at 5, got here again. And so yeah, I see fatigue coming in. After which like I instructed you, we misplaced Nurse. We misplaced Nurse, they usually had six All-Stars they performed. They’d two All-Stars coming off the bench and a few expertise. James (Wade) went fairly deep in his bench, and so he went most likely like a ten rotation. And so each time I appeared, any individual else coming in, any individual else coming in, they usually had plenty of contemporary our bodies.

And sadly, simply the best way that our season went, with Bria Hartley getting back from an harm, she was restricted, after which not plenty of our bench gamers, different bench gamers, performed huge minutes, after which with Kia Nurse happening, that was one other half-hour per recreation for us happening, so we didn’t have an enormous bench to actually go to on the finish of the sport, like we had one or two. And for them, it appeared like no person even skinned their knee. However that’s what it’s about. That’s what it’s about on the finish of the season. I imply, in the event you have a look at it, the healthiest group all the time wins. After which those which have accidents all the time speak about what they might have executed. So I believe they positively had a deep bench, plenty of veterans coming off of it, and their rotation was fluid. And clearly, such as you stated, not utilizing that as an excuse. They beat us. However we positively noticed that I believe fatigue might have performed an element, however I simply really feel like, they have been a 6-seed, in order that they have been as drained as us, they have been drained, too. They only had a really deep rotation. They’d just a few blowout video games the place they received to relaxation their gamers. And yeah, I imply, they clearly did it the suitable approach.

SBN: I’ve yet one more query in regards to the relationship between the Mercury and the Suns. Enthusiastic about WNBA enlargement, like what sustainable franchise fashions appear to be on this league. You’ve been on a group the place it was simply the WNBA group in Dallas after which in Phoenix, you guys have this co-ownership with the Suns. How do you are feeling like that’s useful for you with the Mercury, and do you assume that’s the mannequin that every one W groups have to have?

SDS: I imply, all W groups with an NBA group of their metropolis. However this group positively established a tradition round itself and clearly, the success that the Mercury have had has curated them an enormous fan base. I bear in mind enjoying on the opposite aspect, it’s all the time been 10,000, 12,000 individuals ever since I got here within the league. And it’s positively from the usual that they set on the court docket from the start, the legends which have got here by right here: Cheryl Miller and Bridget Pettis, clearly Penny (Taylor), Diana, DeWanna Bonner, you recognize, they’ve had plenty of stars. I do know I’m lacking some, too. They’d plenty of stars which have got here by Phoenix. Cappie Pondexter, plenty of thrilling basketball and gamers which have actually drawn. So the basketball first, it’s an excellent product, and folks care about basketball right here. They love watching and supporting their sports activities.

After which on the Suns, yeah, they lean in. It’s plenty of cross advertising and marketing. And why wouldn’t it’s? And clearly, with constant possession, you’re capable of do a few of these issues, proper, when you’ve got possession of each the NBA and the WNBA groups. However even the follow services, it’s superb how we reply to simply equality. You stroll in and also you’re like, rattling, we received the identical issues because the Suns have, it’s no totally different. And never much more than — simply equal to. And I really really feel that these assets that we had this yr, accessibility to a personal chef, the follow facility and having a number of courts to follow on, a number of rims and stuff, little stuff like that issues. Clearly the state-of-the-art facility with the burden rooms, chilly tubs, like every thing that the Suns had entry to, we did. And like I stated, it reveals you the way a lot they care about their gamers, not simply the product on the ground, however holistically, with these assets which are being supplied, and it’s one thing I had by no means seen earlier than. I didn’t see any of the organizations that I’ve been part of in Dallas, Tulsa. In Tulsa, we didn’t also have a weight room in Tulsa.

And so to return right here, you get to see what a tradition does, what success does, and what good, such as you stated, cross promotions. And the gamers, too, you don’t must ask them, you recognize, they get it. They wish to come to the sport, Chris Paul, D E book, Deandre Ayton, they do issues unprovoked simply because these guys get it. They perceive. Chris Paul has a daughter, Devin Booker has sisters, and all of them get it, the significance of our league, what we’re making an attempt to do, they usually actually respect us as hoopers. You heard the time period, like actual acknowledge actual. Effectively, we by no means had to do this with the true hoopers. They get it, they perceive. So I believe it’s a mixture of all these issues, similar to the tradition that’s been constructed round right here, how essential cross advertising and marketing is across the metropolis, they usually put advertising and marketing {dollars} into this group.

After which lastly, with me with the ability to be on the Suns broadcast, that simply opened up one other alternative for me to dabble and see what I wish to do after and take a look at various things. And clearly being shut and in market whereas I’m understanding, it’s simply the primary time I had this distinctive alternative to do one thing like this.

SBN: Yeah, I believe I noticed you diagramming a few of Chris Paul’s pick-and-roll reads throughout the season.

SDS: Yeah, additionally this yr, simply planning on extra alternatives, extra movies that appear to be that. Extra content material. And, you recognize, simply extra methods to proceed to construct off this momentum of this season, maintaining us contemporary within the eyes of individuals within the space, and to proceed to to be round right here in the neighborhood.

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