By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Lynx begin defending their WNBA title Sunday against the Los Angeles Sparks.

One of the Lynx’s key moves this off-season was getting defensive stalwart Tanisha Wright to come out of retirement to be an anchor of their second unit.

Meanwhile, she’s got a side gig in common with Lindsay Whalen.

“I just needed a mental break, to get myself in a different state of mind,” Wright said.

When Tanisha Wright stepped away from the WNBA last year, she’d already amassed one of the best defensive careers in WNBA history, making 11 All-Defensive team in her 12 years in the league. But now she’s back, and the Lynx are better for it.

“She’s a great ‘take the bull by the horns’ communicator. She will talk everybody through a possession. I mean you should hear her, defensively, the way she communicates,” coach Cheryl Reeve said. “The value in that is unbelievable. And same thing on offense. … And I don’t care if you tell the entire arena what you’re doing. Talk. That way we’re all in unison and we all know what we’re doing, instead of guessing.”

Wright was still active in basketball during her year away. She took a job as an assistant coach at University of North Carolina-Charlotte, a job she still has. Yes, she is coaching and playing at the same time, a phenomenon she has talked about with Lindsay Whalen.

“I try to share whatever little tidbits that I picked up while coaching, try to pass it onto her to help her,” Wright said.

Like Whalen, Wright felt confident she could handle juggling both playing and coaching.

“I’m a worker, so if there’s things that are needed of me, even while I’m away, I get that done as well,” she said.

With her two careers now running simultaneously, Wright says she’s not yet sure if this will be her last season in the WNBA, and is just “taking it one day at a time.” For a player of her caliber, the Lynx will definitely take that.

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