Social media reactions: Sam Thomas debuts in WNBA with Phoenix Mercury

Sam Thomas, one of the most popular players in Arizona history of any sport, played her first game in the WNBA on Friday night with the Phoenix Mercury, and Thomas took the 106-88 season-opening loss to the Las Vegas Aces at the Footprint Center in Phoenix as a learning experience.

“Maybe if it was a team full of rookies, we would’ve let down, but they’re just giving positive words of encouragement,” Thomas said of veterans such as Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles and Skylar Diggins-Smith. “They kept fighting.”

Thomas, an undrafted free agent, did her part in the eight minutes she played, leading the team with a plus-6 on the +/- metric the WNBA uses to gauge the scoring shift when a player is on the court. The Mercury had a plus-6 advantage in the score when Thomas played.

She had a rebound and an assist and missed her only attempt from the field — a 3-pointer.

Here are some of the social media reactions of Thomas’ debut (note — Aari McDonald begins her second season in the WNBA with the Atlanta Dream tonight in Dallas against the Wings):

Diggins-Smith had some high praise for Thomas: “She’s learning and she’s been great all camp. Low maintenance. Keeps her head down, is a great teammate on the floor. This is literally just the beginning for her. It was great that she actually got an opportunity as a rookie to get out here tonight in the first game … Her future’s bright in this league. I’ve got her back.”

Derek Thomas, Sam’s father, posted this tweet about his father Emmitt, Sam’s grandfather, who took on a similar path to stardom in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent. Emmitt Thomas is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a three-time Super Bowl champion and two-time All-Pro.

Sam with her parents Derek and Julie and coach Adia Barnes after the game:

Damien Alameda of KOLD-TV interviewed Thomas before the game and Thomas was her normal charasmatic self:

Thomas’ first assist in the WNBA – a pass for a 3-pointer by Sophie Cunningham.

Thomas stops for an interview before her first WNBA game, already showing her candid and welcoming ways that made her so popular with the Wildcats.

Barnes with the Thomas jersey (will be available for the public any day now) and is about to get a Dream jersey with McDonald’s number and name.

Thomas is the second WNBA player Barnes and her staff has produced. Get ready for the list to grow through the years.

Naturally, Thomas laughs and smiles as she walks to the locker room before the season opener.

Some action of Thomas in her first WNBA game:


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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