The Dallas Wings celebrated a homecoming of sorts on May 21st when they played the first ever WNBA game in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Two weeks later, forward Glory Johnson will get to celebrate her own debut when she returns for her first game action in over a year.
“I can’t wait to feel the atmosphere and interact with the fans,” Johnson said. “I want to play my game and interact with my teammates, playing with them for the first time, and on the home floor even. That’s what I am really looking forward to.”
Johnson missed last season while pregnant with twins. The University of Tennessee product gave birth in October and had to serve a seven-game suspension to start this season due to an off-court issue. Her first time putting on a Wings jersey for a regular season game will be this Wednesday when Dallas takes on the Washington Mystics at the College Park Center.
Johnson says her motivation to return comes from her children, Ava Simone and Solei Diem.
“I play for my babies and I play for my family,” Johnson said. “I want to make sure I am doing the right things and working as hard as I can. Eventually, I want to be able to tell them that they need to work as hard as they can if they want to play and I can’t do that if I haven’t been there.”
The Wings are also looking forward to Johnson’s return. Dallas has started the 2016 season with a 3-4 record without the fourth-year forward.
“We’ve missed her energy and her spirt,” said head coach Fred Williams. “We’ve also missed the way she runs the floor and her defensive presence. Defensively, she ought to help us out a lot. I look for her to be a big force down there.”
Johnson, who has averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game over her career, agrees that her biggest impact will be on the defensive end of the floor.
“I want to be as much of a defensive stopper as possible, whether it’s guarding a guard or a post,” Johnson said. She has also worked on polishing up the weak spots of her game as she prepares to get back on the court.
“I’ve worked on a lot of my weaknesses for sure,” Johnson added. “Like my outside shooting and trying to make my feet quicker.
“I had lost a lot of my lower body strength, so I’ve tried to make sure I could still get up there and maintain that. I still get up and dunk every once in a while.”
Wings forward Plenette Pierson, who has started all seven games this season at the forward position, says that Johnson’s athleticism will benefit the team and the versatility of the lineup.
“She is going to give us a different look at the 4 position,” Pierson said. “She is more athletic and likes to go in there and get the rebound. That will help us out a lot. She is quicker. Having a quicker player and that change-up between her and myself will be an asset for this team.”
Johnson, who has been able to practice with the team during her suspension, has put in the work to make a meaningful return to basketball, both on Wednesday night and beyond.
Her long road back has not gone unnoticed. Williams knows that Johnson will be ready to play as soon as she hits the floor.
“She’s been here and involved every day,” Williams said. “She has been getting her shots in and practicing hard going against the practice guys. She has been putting in the extra work and given 110% all the way.”