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WNBA center Stefanie Dolson adapts to Olympic 3x3 basketball

The Chicago Sky center is representing the United States in a half court version of basketball at the Tokyo Olympics.

2021 USA Basketball Training Camp: All-Access
Stephanie Dolson takes possession in a USAB National Team 3x3 basketball practice.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Stefanie Dolson will be competing in her chosen sport of basketball at the Tokyo Olympic Games. But she’ll be doing it in a less-familiar format.

The Chicago Sky center, who came out in a 2016 ESPN The Magazine interview, is part of the USA 3x3 Basketball team and will be representing her country in the event’s Olympics debut. And she couldn’t be more thrilled.

“I’ve been trying to make the 5x5, which we all know is a very hard team to make,” she explained to the Chicago Sun-Times’s Annie Costabile, “To be able to make the 3x3 team is even cooler, honestly. It’s a new sport at the Olympics.”

Naturally, the 3x3 setup means that Dolson has had to adapt her game to a new style. It sounds like she’s become comfortable making the transition.

From what Dolson explained to Costabile, “the only significant adjustment is the speed of play.” Since 3x3 has its origins in street basketball, the game is played on a half-court, which means that it ramps up to full speed immediately after every change of possession.

That fast pace consequently leads to a more physical style of play. Dolson revealed that there are many fouls that aren’t called in a 3x3 game than in a typical full-court contest.

The Summer Olympics schedule also means that Dolson suddenly finds herself as a teammate of WNBA rivals like Kelsey Plum, Katie Lou Samuelson and Allisha Gray, against whom she would otherwise be competing at this time of year.

But that familiarity actually led them to become a cohesive unit. The four teammates established an online group chat and quickly fell into a pattern of joking with one another about the games where they’ve been on opposing sides.

Dolson is proud to represent the LGBTQ community as an out athlete.

“It’s important we use our platform for good,” she proclaimed in 2019. “And to have these little girls look up to us and reach out on Instagram...it’s inspiring and it’s humbling.”

In a few days, she’ll be inspiring those fans from Tokyo.