Engaged Sun teammates Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner find work-life balance in the WNBA

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas have found a comfortable work-life balance in the WNBA.

They are the unquestioned leaders of the Connecticut Sun on the court and life partners off of it.

Behind their combined scoring average of 32 points, Connecticut has won its first nine games of the season. On Saturday, the Sun host second-place New York (9-2) on national television.

“They really are the heart and soul of this franchise,” coach Stephanie White said. “You think about not just what they do, on a day-to-day basis, but the consistency with which they’ve done it since they’ve been here. They’ve raised the level of intensity in practice every day.”

Bonner is averaging 19.1 points. The five-time All Star moved into fifth place on the WNBA’s career scoring list during a season-opening victory over Indiana, passing former wife Candice Dupree off an assist from Thomas.

Thomas, a four-time All-Star, leads the WNBA with 8.8 assists a game. She had her 12th triple-double in the opener against the Fever.

Since becoming teammates in 2020, Bonner and Thomas have led Connecticut to three WNBA semifinals and the 2022 Finals.

Off the court, they have a wedding to plan — well, they will at some point. They began dating during the pandemic and became engaged late season during the All-Star break.

“Clearly we share different connections, off the court and on the court,” Thomas said. “I feel like it just translates.”

But basketball, at least for now, comes first.

A WNBA championship this season would be the third for the 36-year-old Bonner, who won two with the Phoenix Mercury, but the first for the 32-year-old Thomas. Bonner is in her 15th year in the league and Thomas her 11th.

Bonner and Thomas decided to put their wedding plans on hold as Thomas works toward her goal of making the Olympic team and playing in the Paris Games this summer.

“That’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Bonner said. “And that’s something that is like set in stone on a date, and a wedding can be adjusted. So this is her time. I want her to have that attention and we focus on the wedding later.”

Teammates say the two have very different leadership styles, with Thomas being the more assertive on the court, and Bonner being the more loquacious off the court. Thomas was ejected for a hard foul she committed against Caitlin Clark on May 25.

But both, Olivia Nelson-Ododa said, demand the attention and respect of younger players.

“Their leadership, I mean, you really can’t put into words just how dynamic it is,” third-year center Nelson-Ododa said. “You have both of them with just so much experience and them working together and then also just leading us. I mean, it makes us want to step out, step up our game and … make sure that we’re on page with them. That we know exactly what we’re doing when we step on the court with them because they expect so much of us.”

Bonner, the mother of 6-year-old twin daughters Cali and Demi, hasn’t said whether this will be her last season. But she and Thomas, who will both be free agents after this season, have no plans to retire at the same time and aren’t committed to staying on the same team forever.

“We both have our own individual careers and we do what’s best for ourselves,” Thomas said. “So none of that ‘us being together’ factors into it.”

In fact, sharing both a home and work life can be difficult, Thomas and Bonner acknowledged.

“It’s a gift and a curse right?” Bonner said. “Because there’s time that we go at it and we’re competitors. So there’s times that we do bump heads on the court. But once we walk off the court, you know, outside of those lines, that’s it about basketball. But on the court, I just feel like she knows me. I know her. She makes me better. She makes my job easier.”

___ WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

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