Courtside with Jordin Canada

An unfiltered Q&A with WNBA players — past and present.

Hello and welcome to Courtside.

Take a break from the game. Pull up a chair. Settle in. Have some water. And relax. 

As often as I can, I’ll be bringing you honest, revealing and fun Q&As with some of the greatest players in WNBA history as well as rookies, veterans and All-Stars in the league today. 

Now, let’s get to the conversation.

Seattle Storm/Ned Dishman NBAE/Getty Images

Jordin Canada, 25, is a WNBA point guard. She was drafted fifth overall by the Seattle Storm in the 2018 WNBA Draft. Canada played her college ball at UCLA, where she finished her career as the all-time leader in assists and became the first women’s basketball player in the history of the PAC-12 to amass 1,800 points and 700 assists.

“When the team might be struggling or when we really need a bucket or when the shot clock’s going down, there’s just this confidence about her that she can go make the necessary play.”

— UCLA women’s basketball head coach, Cori Close in 2018 (The Los Angeles Times)

As a rookie with the Storm, Canada won her first WNBA championship (2018) and is looking to help Seattle add another title this season. She is currently averaging 7.5 points and 5.6 assists per game (tied for second in the league). With dimes like these, Canada is going to be fun to watch for years to come:

How has your game grown and evolved since you entered the league in 2018?

I think I have done a better job of knowing what my role is on this team. It [has] fluctuated throughout my career since I’ve been here. But I’ve been more secure in knowing what my role is, what I bring to the team and what I do best — which is obviously bringing a spark on defense, pushing the pace. And also, my IQ of the game has grown. Just watching film and, you know, talking to Sue [Bird] and coaches on things they see and what I can improve on. So, just my IQ and my role and being secure in my role.

What has it been like to learn from and play with (arguably) the best point guard in the history of the WNBA, Sue Bird?

It’s been a blessing. It’s been amazing. I love being her teammate and just watching her play and how she thinks in moments of the game, and knowing what to call. I actually was just talking to my coach — we were playing Atlanta and there was a moment in the timeout and [Sue] was like, ‘they’re switching so we’re going to do this, we’re going to run this, we’re going to put you here’ and it was just so amazing to me that she could just think of that on the fly. 

Having someone like that who knows the game so well and is teaching me the ins and outs of how she has been able to get to this point — it’s helped me a lot. And I think that’s why my IQ has grown so much, not only from watching film but learning from her and her giving me tips and advice when I am playing and starting. She’s just been a really big help with that.

What’s the most impactful advice she’s given you?

The most impactful thing I would probably say is for me not to be like her, honestly. To just play my game and to be strong in my role and not have to have the expectations of, you know, trying to fill her shoes. 

Since I’ve been in the league, it’s always been — is Jordin going to amount to Sue when she leaves and what are the expectations of Jordin, will she be able to carry on the legacy of Sue? It’s always been that since I stepped foot in the league. And I understand that, and I’m honored to be in that conversation with Sue. But to hear her say, ‘Look — don’t worry about other peoples’ expectations, just go out there and play your game because we’re two different point guards, we don’t have the same style. But in order for this team to be successful, we both have to be at our strengths. So don’t worry about filling my shoes or trying to be like me, go out there and play your game.’ 

And that’s something that I really needed to hear early on. As a rookie coming into the league, of course I’m going to be nervous and having those thoughts, oh I have to play behind Sue, I have to fill her shoes, I have to be like her — and to hear her say that was really calming for me. I don’t try to think too much, I don’t try to do too much, I just try to play my game.

When Bird was out last season with a knee injury, you were thrust into a starting role. How did you make the most of it?

I had to rely, honestly, on my college days. Just taking in those moments as a junior and senior in college and being a leader on the team. What does it look like, what does it feel like for me? So, obviously, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve figured out how to be a leader and what works best for me. Last year was just  bringing back what I was strong at in college, just leading by example, bringing that spark. And I was still learning the system, learning my teammates last year, so I had a lot of help from AC [Alysha Clark], who was our biggest voice, helping me, teaching me and guiding me. Also, Noelle Quinn, our assistant [head] coach, talking me through things and watching film, just learning as a I go. 

But I think for me, my strong suit is just leading by example and that’s playing hard, hustling, doing the things I know that I can do when it comes to effort and energy, so just trying to bring that to table. It was just probably leaning back on my college days. 

Younger players in the league right now, such as yourself, have put energy into creating their own brand and using their platform in unique ways. Is that a sign of the social media times we are living in and what kinds of cool projects have you done in that regard?

I think, you know, as the times go — social media is a big thing nowadays. And I think it’s really important to brand yourself and show your personality and who you are off the court, because a lot of times people only see you as an athlete. They don’t really see more than that. I think now it’s kind of like a blessing in disguise to have social media — it’s a good and bad thing. It’s just learning and being creative on how to use social media as a positive outlet. I’m trying to develop that right now, as we speak. Coming out with a clothing line — I’ve always been interested in fashion and I’m trying to get into that realm. 

With this whole craziness that has been going on with police brutality, you know, African Americans being victims of that — I think it was important to use my voice, so me and two of my friends — Milton Doyle, who played for the Windy City Bulls, and Ted Barnes, who plays overseas — we  came up with this ‘We Got Us Challenge’ of promoting Black businesses and just putting out as much information as we possibly can about the small businesses we are promoting, to donate or buy their products or whatever it may be. Just trying to give back to the community as much as possible. I’m really big on giving back to my community.

It may not be on social media, but just going and talking to girls who are playing basketball, who are interested in going to college, talking to different AAU teams, going to high schools — things of that nature. I don’t really like to showcase that stuff because oftentimes people will kind of get the misconception that it’s all just for social media. So, I don’t really like to put that out there. But those are just some of the little things I try to do off the court. And I’m still trying to think of other ideas as to how I can put myself out there.

What’s your favorite takeout food in the Wubble?

I’ve had P.F. Chang’s a lot since I’ve been here, which is weird because I don’t normally eat P.F. Chang’s when I’m in California. But for some reason, that has been my go-to. I’ve had that at least 10 times since I’ve been here (laughs). I get Mongolian Beef and fried rice. 

What’s something about you that people would be surprised to know or wouldn’t expect?

I’m actually really goofy. People may not know that. I’m very shy and quiet. When I meet somebody for the first time, it takes a while for me to open up. But when I do finally open up, I’m actually really goofy. 

What’s your guilty pleasure? Could be a song, movie, food, etc.? 

Probably cake. That is my go-to pleasure. I love confetti cake. So, I usually get it from a store or a bakery. I always have to have cake for some reason. That is my go-to.

What’s your go-to hype song before a game?

I don’t have a hype song, but I do have a playlist. I listen to a lot of Nipsey Hussle before games. That’s my playlist that I listen to before I go out and warm up and all of that. But I don’t have a specific song.

Who’s got next? 

• Rookie of the Year candidate and Minnesota Lynx point guard, Crystal Dangerfield

• Longtime WNBA veteran and Indiana Fever cornerstone, Candice Dupree

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