Thursday, July 31, 2008
Behind The Scoreboard
I can vaguely recall someone asking me sometime ago if I planned to do anything on the WNBA (I think it was Sally Bryant of Teddy’s Building Supply). I said, “Of course.”
Actually, I have always put out some coverage on the girls of summer since their league’s inception over 10 years ago. But one has to admit that the total interest in the WNBA has slowed over the last three or four years. However, the league, just like the Temptations, is still going strong. They now have what appears to be 14 committed teams and their paydays have evolved right along with the league.
It is true that most of their games are not carried by NBC during the prime viewing hours but there are still happenings in the summer answer to the NBA which has not suffered any great fan loss. The WNBA is interposed among the rabid fans of the NFL, the dedicated fanatics of the NCAA and the super followers of the NBA.
Now the WNBA players are going into a month-long break which will resume after the Olympics. Some of the league’s best players (roster of 12) will be in China to vie for the gold. The last games before the respite were played Sunday night.
One of the most notable games was the one in which the Seattle Storm, behind the 24 points of Sue Bird, denied the Sacramento Monarchs their chance of breaking the record (their own), of seven consecutive games, the longest winning streak in WNBA history. The other hot game was between the Los Angeles Spark and the Minnesota Lynx. Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker led the Spark with 23 points each. You all know who Lisa is and Candace, well, she is the reason that Sally wanted me to write something about the WNBA. Parker starred for the Vols in her collegiate years and we all know how the Bryants feel about the Vols!
Anyway, that game went into overtime because of the shooting of Seimone Augustus. She paced the Lynx with 29 points. Leslie, Parker and DeLisha Milton-Jones of the Spark and Augustus are all on their way to Beijing.
And for those of you who think maybe the WNBA could use a little more excitement, you should check the brawl Tuesday of last week between the Spark and the Detroit Shock. Ten players were suspended (Parker was one of them), along with Los Angeles coach Rick Mahorn. Mahorn and some of the players were fined. Cheryl Ford (pretty forward of the Shock and daughter of Karl “Mailman” Malone), was injured and lost for the remainder of the regular season.
Bill Laimbeer, whose team lost the first place ranking in the Eastern Conference, stated that it was the worst week of his career. Laimbeer also hired Nancy Lieberman to a seven-day contract, but the Hall of Famer and former coach of the Shock was cut after one game. But still she became the oldest player ever to don a WNBA uniform.
Lieberman’s salary was not disclosed, but the ladies have come a long way, baby. The minimum salary is now $34,000 and the cap is $95,000.
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