Her Boomers again take on the Capitals in Wednesday night’s elimination semi-final in Townsville.
There were many on-court lessons in 2020, but one of the most confronting came off the court during her rookie WNBA season which played out amid the social unrest of a wave of police shootings of African-American people in the United States and the tension of the US election.
When the US season was shortened into a bubble season, the players demanded it be dedicated to Black Lives Matter and the memory of those killed including Breonna Taylor who was shot and killed in her home during a late-night police raid.
All players had Taylor’s name on the bottom of their jerseys and throughout the season key players took time to ‘say her name’ and press Kentucky authorities for more action on the case.
It was an eye-opening experience for Magbegor but she was able to watch two of the league’s most high-profile leaders in action in Storm teammates Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart.
“It was great to be a part of that and be a first-hand witness and learn from it all as I haven’t been in situations like that before,” Magbegor said.
“They were standing up for social justice, racism and especially with the election going on, there was a lot to do with that.
“Being able to learn from the strong women of the WNBA was a great experience for me both on and off the court as well.
“It was definitely overwhelming at some points but it was necessary. The WNBA had a few zoom calls with families of black women who had been killed in the United States so not shying away from those issues, addressing them and teaching the players and coaches about those issues and encouraging us to speak out as well was really important.”
On court, Magbegor played a role off the bench for the Storm who quickly established themselves as a contender and Magbegor left a good impression despite limited court time.
But play came to a standstill across US sport, including the WNBA, after the shooting of Wisconsin man Jacob Blake in late August.
“There was a game we didn’t end up playing because there was another shooting, of Jacob Blake, so everyone really needed to take a step back and take those couple of days off,” Magbegor said.
“At that point, it was just pretty overwhelming, We had a vigil with all the players and everyone felt it. When things like that happen, you have to address them and speak on them.
“That’s what we are playing for. Then remember that we are playing for social justice so we still need to play the game.”
The Australian Opals, including Magbegor, made a stand of their own to Basketball Australia in June demanding the sporting body do more to promote equality and stop racial injustice.
The Opals and BA have since released their own RISE Up campaign which is part of the WNBL this season.
Magbegor has returned from the WNBA with added confidence in her game and she was named in the All-WNBL second team after averaging 14.8 points per game and 8.6 rebounds in the 13 games played since the season tipped off on November 11.
“Coming back from the WNBA has given me some confidence playing in the WNBL,” Magbegor said.
“I definitely need to back myself a little more. In my head, I think my shots are just around the basket but my teammates back me to shoot when I’m further out.”
Magbegor has only seen her family for one day since she left for the WNBA and last weekend she received a surprise when the team sent her to the airport to greet some supporters who had flown to Queensland for the finals.
Among them were her parents, little brother AJ and a family friend.
“They kind of like surprised me,” Magbegor said with a smile.
“It was good to see them after so long.”
The Boomers play Canberra Capitals in an elimination semi-final on Wednesday at 6.05pm AEDT then Southside Flyers play Townsville Fire in the major semi-final at 8.20pm AEDT.
The winner of the semi-final will go through to the grand final, the loser will play the winner of the elimination semi-final on Friday to decide the remaining place in Sunday’s grand final.
All games will be live on ABC iview, Kayo and Fox Sports.
Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.