Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The End of an Era for the WNBA

In the early days of the WNBA the league was about Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson, Janeth Arcain, Kim Perrot and their domination, under the guidance of Coach Van Chancellor. These women set the tone for the WNBA to come. They established a dynasty that could not be threatened by any other team in the league. Finally, with the loss of Perrot to cancer and Cooper to retirement, the Los Angeles Sparks were able to win the next two championships before the trophy began to move around with only the Detroit Shock wining more then one in the following years.

Today, that era is officially over.

Through poor management, a rotten economy, the loss of all but one of its stars (Thompson remained until the very end), and the failure to identify local ownership, the franchise has officially folded.

It is a sad day for the WNBA and for women's basketball.

Unlike some others (pilight at Rebkell's Junkie Boards, for example), I don't see this as the end of the WNBA. There are strong teams with solid fan bases in Detroit, New York, Connecticut, San Antonio, Seattle, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Phoenix. There are more dedicated owners like those in Seattle and LA. There is talent in the league and in the college ranks. The sport continues to grow. Many of the early teams failed in their NBA city homes, but franchises in NBA free cities like Seattle and Connecticut are thriving. The model has changed. The leadership of the league is learning how to build their franchise next to the NBA not on top of it.

What I find particularly interesting is the choice of the word "SUSPEND" and the indication that there were multiple ownership groups out there but that there wasn't enough time to complete the transaction for the 2009 season. Does this leave open the option to recreate the Comets in Houston for the 2010 season? Can Tina Thompson either sit out a year or sign a one year contract for 2009 to be the bridge to reforming the Comets in 2010? I think that this story is not yet over.

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