Simone Edwards is not one to turn down an invitation.
Not when it's from the prime minister of her native country, Jamaica, and especially not when it's from Storm coach Anne Donovan. Even as her chances to remain the final player from the team's inaugural season in 2000 continue to shrink.
"I won a championship with this team and I've been with this team when we went up and down," said Edwards, 32, who returned to Seattle on Friday. "So, at this point, my heart will always be in Seattle. I always want the best for this team.
"But if coach feels that it's someone else that can help them win a championship, I'm down with that. If she feels like she can keep me to win another one, I'm down with that too. I'm not sweating it. I'm old. But I'm always coming back, even when I'm 82. I'm going to be passing through Seattle [saying,] 'I can do it!' I'll be out there in my cheerleading uniform saying, 'Come on!' I'll find a part to play."
Edwards' return was questionable because of a family situation involving her sister and a left foot injury that hampered her play throughout the 2005 season and as Edwards won a championship with her offseason Spanish team.
Jamaica also tugged at Edwards' attention, wanting her to help the country market the Caribbean Basketball Championships, June 12-18. The women's side of the tournament will feature five teams, with the top two finishers advancing for an opportunity to play in the World Championships in Brazil in September.
A Jamaican newspaper reported Edwards would retire from the WNBA so she could compete with her national team. Edwards clarified at practice Monday that if she did make the Storm roster again, she would miss a four-game trip, including a matchup against the defending champion Sacramento Monarchs, but wouldn't need to skip the entire season.
"This is the biggest event in basketball that we've [Jamaica] hosted in a long time and [it leads] to the Olympics," Edwards said. "The prime minister, who is a friend, and all of the people of Jamaica, really want me to come down, so I'm hoping that everything will work out that I can represent them. It's a boost to our country [which is still healing from hurricane damage], and you can't turn down your prime minister."
The Storm is tough to snub, too. Edwards has averaged 5.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in six WNBA seasons. She was a solid interior backup during the 2004 playoffs, but played her fewest minutes (201) as a professional last season, earning the last spot on the roster.
This season, Edwards, a 6-foot-4 center, is competing with three other post players for what could be two positions behind starters Lauren Jackson and Janell Burse and free-agent pickup Wendy Palmer.
But when Edwards walked into practice Friday, she was the only post available to play. Draft pick Dalila Eshe tweaked her right knee, free agent Lindsay Taylor is dealing with right Achilles tendinitis, league veteran Tiffani Johnson will not return until next week, and Burse didn't join the team until Monday.
"The first day I saw like four posts sitting on the sideline with ice, I was about to turn around and get back in the car," Edwards said. "I'm supposed to be the only broken one on the Storm. That was a shock for me."
Donovan said Edwards still has some work to do, but was pleased to have her back. The Storm also saw action from Burse, who injured her upper arm while playing in the Czech Republic in April, missing the first week of camp. Meanwhile, rookie Barbara Turner did not practice because of a shin problem and Jackson (shin) was on the floor for about an hour.
"Simone is coming along, but we know what she can do," said Donovan, who added that Edwards' wanting to play in the Caribbean Basketball Championships will not factor into whether she makes the team. "We've got to get our final roster set before we worry about June."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org