Sacrifice is a concept that is talked about a lot for professional athletes when it comes to the betterment of the team as a whole. It is an easy thing to talk about, as a theory, but in execution sacrifice is tougher than meets the eye. Not all professional athletes have the capacity to set aside individual preference for group cohesion.
Again, not every professional has that capacity.
To defend those that cannot do this for a minute, could you? How easy you shift the way you have done things from as long as you could remember doing them? Oh, and you were always the best at what you do at your school, job, team, or general environment.
Not as easy as it may seem on the surface.
Every now and then there is an opportunity for a team to be great based on the individual parts collected, but those parts have to figure out how to play with each other. If you have multiple engines, while that is great in theory, that is not a functional vehicle. A few of those engines needs to become a wheel or another functional component of the vehicle.
When Chris Bosh went to the Miami Heat he went from 22.8 points per game, 9.9 rebounds per game, and 15.9 shots per game in 37.6 minutes as the best player not only on his team, but in an entire country.
He dropped to 17.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 13.0 shots per game in 34.1 minutes as the universally accepted third banana role in Miami.
All the numbers take a dip, but trading in three shots, two rebounds, and six points a night for four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals with the potential of a third ring. Are headlines and stats the most important determining factor for success?
On this year's Mercury team every player has to fall into a niche and become a part of the machine. For DeWanna Bonner it is taking advantage of her length, size, and quickness on the court to become the defensive stopper that the Mercury has never had. This has always been about the offense. Bonner can score. No one will question that after Bonner put up 20.3 points per game in the injury filled 2012 season and 14.5 points per game the next year next to Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner. She can get buckets as needed.
"It's fun and I enjoy playing defense," Bonner on her new role. "I have my teammates back there helping me out back there. She (Coach Brondello) told me that is what I need to focus on so that is what I am focusing on."
Bonner's niche so far has been assertive, aggressive defense on the perimeter against the opponents' best offensive weapons. From Sue Bird to Alana Beard to Odyssey Sims to Kayla McDaniel they have all had their worst nights of the season against the Mercury, and their new defensive weapon.
With the scoring and offense flowing through Taurasi and Griner out to the three-point shooters leaving Bonner limited play-making responsibility.
Once the offense clicks to the highest level and there is a more defined role for Bonner on that end she is tasked with being the team's defensive catalyst. A role she has accepted with a smile.
"I score when I need to, but on defense, that is where we were lacking a little bit the past few years," Bonner the transition. "That is definitely my focus this year."
With her skill level on the offensive end Bonner could be a 20+ point scorer on half the teams in the WNBA today. She is that good on that end, which further emphasizes her commitment and excellence so far on the defensive end. Full-court, end-to-end, and against any type of offensive talent Bonner has risen her game to that next level on the defensive end. She has shown flashes of being a great defender and consistently been a very good defender since the opening tip of the season.
Where Bonner and Bosh sacrifice on the offensive end they make up for it on the defensive end and in winning in the game of basketball. That is what makes a great team and a great teammate.