Thursday, July 27, 2006
Just this past week, I was asked a second time if there would be an article on the WNBA before the season was over. Since it was not the same lady who asked I thought it might be a good thing to look into. I can remember telling the first inquirer that I would not forget to do an article.
It reminded me of a radio commercial which was very popular in New Mexico. (My kids would love this!) A man was eating a Lucky Boy hamburger in front of a young person who kept trying to entice the eater to give him a bite. The man kept telling the kid that he would not forget to give him a bite. The hamburger was almost devoured when the kid said, “Mr., you promised to give me a bite!” The man went on expounding the delicious qualities and properties of the Lucky Boy and the kid started his plea, “Mr., you said you were going to give me a bite.” A second later the kid let out a scream and said, “Mr., you bit me!” Whereupon the man replied, “I told you that I would not forget you, boy!”
It was remarked in an earlier column that the WNBA celebrated its first decade of existence this season and is still going strong. When the league was formed under the auspices of the NBA, there were only eight teams. Now, the addition of the Chicago Sky, which was added in ’06, brought the count to 14. Oddly enough, there have been other professional women’s basketball leagues which did not pass the test of time. First was the WBL and then the ABL, the latter folding in 1999. Those players released by the ABL made easy transitions to the WNBA and gave it some added strength.
Only three teams have folded since incorporation, the Cleveland Shockers, Miami Sol and Portland Fire. The venues where the WNBA operate have male teams with the exception of one. The Connecticut Sun (which started out as the Orlando Miracle), re-located to that state which does not have a NBA franchise.
The progress of the league, which has been steady, has not been as profitable for individual players. When the WNBA was formed, players’ salaries were $42,000 per season, maximum. In 2004, the cap was $90,000, with a rookie earning $30,000. Compare that to the rookie salary in the NBA which is currently $385,000.
The Houston Comets and Van Chancellor had a lock on the WNBA for most of its existence. Chancellor won coach of the year for three consecutive years.
This season the Connecticut Sun is leading the Eastern Conference at 17-6 and the Los Angeles Spark heads the West with a 20-6 mark. The top four teams will begin a playoff in September. Best of three will decide who stays and who leaves. The last two standing will duke it out in a best of five.
Van Chancellor and the Comets are in third place in the West. Don’t throw in the towel just yet; they still have a chance. I told you that I wouldn’t forget you, ma’am.
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