Cambage provides superstar encounter for young fan

Minneapolis – When Liz Cambage looked to the crowd shortly after Team Parker’s WNBA All-Star Game win on Saturday, 12-year-old Sophia Thomas was watching.

The Dallas Wings center raised high an orange Nike shoe to the fans at the Target Center, searching for the perfect recipient of a once-in-a-lifetime gift. She found just the fan. Smiling, Cambage worked through the crowded chaos on the court and walked directly to Thomas in the first row of her corner section.

Shock flooded Thomas’ face when she realized what was happening. She placed her hand on her heart as her jaw dropped. Cambage arrived at the railing in front of her, and Thomas reached out to shake the same hand that had ignited an entire arena with a dunk just minutes before.

Thomas was in awe.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. Is she going to pick me? Oh my gosh,’” Thomas said.

Cambage handed over the shoe, signed and timestamped with a “WNBA ALL-STAR 18” inscription. The color matched the fresh All-Star Game T-shirt that Thomas was sporting, which is also the same signature color of the WNBA logo.

Thomas’ eyes locked onto the sneaker, and a she let out a shout of excitement. Then Cambage extended for a hug, adding to an already-impressive you-won’t-believe-this story that Thomas can now tell for years.

Thomas said she tried waving down Cambage when she was scanning the crowd, but she wasn’t sure that it would pan out.

“Honestly, I didn’t really think so,” Thomas said. “But I was just going to try because I’m a sneaker head. I love shoes.”

The middle school student called the game’s first appearance in Minneapolis a success.

“Everything was awesome. They did a great job,” she said.

For Cambage, the moment was an easy opportunity to grow the expanding reach of the WNBA within the time of a shot clock.

“The fans are the reason we’re here,” she said. “We wouldn’t be here without them, and we love them so much. Anything we can do to connect and encourage future players and fans, it’s really important.”

Liz Cambage gives Sophia Thomas one of her shoes after Saturday's All-Star game. Photo by Micah Friez.
Liz Cambage gives Sophia Thomas one of her shoes after Saturday’s All-Star game. Photo by Micah Friez.

Thomas is a Minneapolis native and a Lynx fan, so she also witnessed Minnesota’s Maya Moore win All-Star Game MVP on her home hardwood.

“It was awesome,” Thomas said. “I’m so proud of her, and I think she deserves it.”

And while Thomas hopes to attend the 2019 All-Star Game in Las Vegas, Saturday’s superstar encounter will be hard to top.

“I was just so happy,” Thomas said.