Cameron Brink On Defying Tired WNBA Narratives And How She Made Diana Taurasi Laugh

On May 24, the Los Angeles Sparks’ game against the Indiana Fever at Arena in LA was billed as the first-ever matchup between the Nos. 1 and 2 overall picks of the 2024 WNBA Draft, Caitlin Clark and Cameron Brink, respectively. I covered the game for Dime — a 78-73 Fever win — and observed Brink bring a group of 11-year-old girls to frantic, all-consuming glee with a simple wave from the bench during pregame warmups. Three of the girls wore No. 22 Clark jerseys, but Brink’s acknowledgement held just as much weight.

“I remember that!” Brink said over the phone 10 days later. “[My teammates and I] were laughing because we were like, ‘What? You like me? You’re wearing Caitlin’s jersey.”

There is so much to like about Brink. The reigning Pac-12 Women’s Player Of The Year and Defensive Player Of The Year out of Stanford is averaging 8.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals. Brink is behind only Seattle’s Ezi Magbegor (3.0) and Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson (2.8) in blocks per game, and she’s just eight games into what should be an impressive, lasting WNBA career.

Speaking with Dime, Brink dispelled mounting false narratives about the W, recalled how she made Diana Taurasi laugh during a game, shared her favorite piece of advice she’s received from Lisa Leslie, and more.

What is the most tired narrative around women’s sports?

Oh, that’s a great question. The most tired narrative is that the vets are against the rookies — this old-school versus new-school narrative — and the narrative that the rookies need to be perfect. I feel like Caitlin Clark has that the worst right now, but even I get that. She had three points the other night [against New York on June 2]. I had three points the other night [against Indiana on May 28]. We’re expected to be perfect. We were drafted to high-drafting teams coming off of losing seasons, which is fine. It’s a learning process. But people expect us to be perfect, and it’s freaking exhausting. I feel like we learn how to tune it out, but still, it’s unrealistic, and it kind of just shows that people don’t know basketball.

What has been the most exhausting adjustment between college and the W?

I would say the mental fatigue. Curt Miller is an amazing coach, but his coaching style is completely different than [former Stanford head coach] Tara’s [VanDerveer]. It’s been great, honestly, for me to learn different things, but he just runs a completely different offense, so it’s relearning everything. And then, traveling cross-country, but I can’t even complain because now we have charter flights, so I’m very excited. It’s still an adjustment to travel across the country and be expected to get good sleep and be ready to perform every day. Back-to-back, even, sometimes.

What was your “Welcome to the W” moment?

I think my first “Welcome to the W” moment was just having to guard Tina Charles. She’s just so dominant, and honestly, her jump hook middle is unguardable. Before, in college, I was kind of just able to block anybody, I guess. But now, I’m going against the best of the best.

You mentioned the season-opener against Atlanta and Tina on Podcast P With Paul George and how she treated you during the game.

She was so nice! I remember, before the game, she was hugging Kia Nurse. I went up behind them and hugged them, and I was like, ‘Tina, you’re about to hand me my ass.’ She was laughing, like, ‘No!’ She ended up having a great game. It was a close game. I did pretty well, but she still was just so hard for me to guard. There were points throughout the game where I didn’t [know what to do]. The jump balls are new for me because in college, it was just a possession change, so she was telling me where to go. It was funny.

Which Sparks veteran’s shoulder have you leaned on the most so far?

Definitely Dearica Hamby. She’s like my mom out there. She is a mom to her own two kids, so I feel bad that she has another in me, but she’s just the kindest. A really great leader and very steady for us.

Has there been one moment in particular in the whirlwind of the past month where you’ve been like, I’m a professional basketball player, but I need my mom right now?

No, like, literally every single day. Even today. [Laughs] I had to be up at 3 a.m. this morning — which is great because we end early today, so I’m not complaining — but it’s just a lot. You have to adjust to a lot. So, she’s actually flying in tonight because I have another shoot tomorrow and a game the next day. She’s been there throughout it all. My dad, too. They both moved me into my apartment. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

You collected the infinity stone of making Kawhi Leonard laugh. Who is the WNBA player, past or present, you’d be most proud to make laugh?

I’ve already made Diana Taurasi laugh, so maybe that counts? Maybe Jonquel Jones. She also scares me, but in a good way because there’s a lot of respect. I’m pretty goofy, so I’m sure I’ll make someone laugh.

What broke Diana?

Just yesterday, [during the Sparks’ 87-68 loss in Phoenix], we were at the free throw line, and she came up to me, and she was like, ‘You’re gonna be dealing with this sh*t for another 20 years.’ And I looked at her and was like, ‘I feel like I’m gonna get cut next year if I keep playing this way.’ So, we both were laughing. She’s really great. And, like I said before, the narrative that the veterans are not supporting us could not be further from the truth because she is literally one of my favorite people. It’s just annoying.

Lisa Leslie is one of your idols. I know you’re getting so many pieces of advice thrown at you from all sorts of people, but has there been one that you find yourself naturally returning to in your mind?

Gosh, we just had the best phone call, and I absolutely adore her. When she played, she had a similar frame to mine, and so it was just talking about, when you’re super skinny and slight of frame, the importance of doing some sort of weightlifting every day. It’s funny because people always say, ‘You need to gain weight.’ You definitely try, and there’s only so much you can do to put on weight during a season where you’re running every day and constantly burning calories. She talked about the importance of maintaining strength. She just says, “What’s meant for you is meant for you.” A lot of people give general advice, and she’s really good at giving applicable advice.

You are Mattress Firm’s founding member of “Team Sleep Well.” How does this campaign — and I guess learning the difference between sleep and rest — align with what you’re going through?

I talk a lot about the importance of aligning with brands, and this is perfect for this year because this is probably the most exhausting year of my life — in a good way; always leading with gratitude. “Team Sleep Well” is about connecting top athletes with sleep experts and helping us get that one-percent better and optimizing performance. They were kind enough to gift me a mattress, and it’s a California King. It’s firm. Actually, my feet don’t hang off the end of it. Now, my 6’7″ boyfriend and I can fit on our mattress and actually get good, quality sleep.

What is a tweak you’ve had to make to maximize recovery that you could get away with not doing at all in college?

I would say actually investing into a good mattress. When I first moved to LA, I was in a hotel, and the mattress in the hotel was like a freaking marshmallow. I would sink so deep into it. Everyone has their preferences, but I can’t sleep on a soft mattress, so I feel like Mattress Firm gave me the opportunity to invest in a mattress to where I can get quality sleep. I also have a bad back because I’m so tall. I don’t really have the core strength yet, so I hinge a lot, and it causes a lot of back issues for me.

What keeps you up at night?

Honestly, trying to sleep after games is really hard because your adrenaline is rushing so much. That’s why it’s even more important to feel comfortable and relaxed. Obviously, you have your common fear of not doing well and failing, but it’s definitely the outside factors of coming off of late, tough games. Just living up to the pressure, which we all let it get to us at times.

Finish this sentence: I will not rest until…

I will not rest until the W is even more iconic than it is now.

What part do you want to play in that?

I could go way deeper into this, but I would just say growing the fan base to support all types of players. I will acknowledge there’s a privilege for the younger white players of the league. That’s not always true, but there is a privilege that we have inherently, and the privilege of appearing feminine. Some of my teammates are more masculine. Some of my teammates go by they/them pronouns. I want to bring more acceptance to that and not just have people support us because of the way that we look. I know I can feed into that because I like to dress femininely, but that’s just me. I want everyone to be accepted — not just paid attention to because of how they look.