Home-Court Advantage? WNBA Teams Still Booted from Arenas During Playoffs

Home-Court Advantage? WNBA Teams Still Booted from Arenas During Playoffs

By Tamryn Spruill Every year, a WNBA team or two loses its home arena during the playoffs: the time of year a team needs familiarity and consistency most. This season, the No. 5 Phoenix Mercury will play their first-round single-elimination game against the No. 8 New York Liberty at Grand Canyon University (GCU) Arena because of what the team is calling a "scheduling conflict" at the team's home arena. But WNBA teams getting booted from their home courts is nothing new. A university arena is not the same as a professional one, especially for the Mercury, who pride themselves on the facilities they’ve installed for the team’s myriad working mothers. GCU is only a 20-minute drive from the Mercury’s usual home court, at the Footprint Center, so their X-Factor fan base is likely to turn out in droves. But close proximity to a substitute arena isn’t always the case. In 2018, the Washington Mystics were booted from Capital One Arena and forced to play three playoff games at Charles E....

Any Expansion Should Be by Measured Approach, WNBA History Reveals

Any Expansion Should Be by Measured Approach, WNBA History Reveals

By Tamryn Spruill On this day in WNBA history (June 7, 1999), the league announced its decision to expand the league to 16 teams for the 2000 season, adding the Indiana Fever, the Portland Fire, the Miami Sol and the Seattle Storm. The addition of the four teams exceeded the more modest expansion in 1998, which brought the Detroit Shock and the Washington Mystics into the league, and 1999, which added the Minnesota Lynx and the Orlando Miracle. Of the four teams added in 2000, only the Fever and Storm exist, but the conundrum of WNBA teams going defunct is not limited to those that came after the original eight.   A review of the teams that have come and gone in the WNBA's 25-year history underscores the point. Of the WNBA's original eight teams, just three remain active today. And a total of eight teams that once existed no longer do. Active teams are presented in bold italics. 1997 WNBA teams EASTERN CONFERENCE  Charlotte Sting (1997-2007) Cleveland Rockers (1997-2003) Houston...

Monarchs Stay Undefeated in Sacramento

Monarchs Stay Undefeated in Sacramento

By Tamryn Spruill When Joe Maloof announced in November 2009 that his family would be surrendering ownership of the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs, he claimed to be "bummed" about the decision and told reporters that the move was necessitated by the ownership group's need to focus full-throttle on the NBA's Kings. "This is our team that won a championship," Maloof told Aileen Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. "We love the Monarchs. But all of our efforts have to be on getting the Kings back to where they once were, and that takes our full commitment." Love, Maloof-style, apparently means forsaking your lone winning franchise for a struggling one, leaving players, coaches, staff and Maloof Sports and Entertainment employees out of work. The real dagger in the hearts of the players was the timing.   At the time the Maloof family ended the franchise, the Monarchs in 12 seasons had amassed a 224-200 regular-season record and piled on a 24-19 tally in the playoffs.  The year the Monarchs won...

An Exclusive Look into the WNBA’s 25th Anniversary Season

An Exclusive Look into the WNBA’s 25th Anniversary Season

By Tamryn Spruill We have a high level of competition, players emerge as stars, we build household names and we build these rivalries. That’s how WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will measure success of the league’s 25th-anniversary season. Expected to tip off in mid-May, plans for the 2021 WNBA season signal an edging toward normalcy -- as much as health-and-safety protocols and vaccination rollout will allow. "Success, number one, is that we have a healthy season for our players, staff and fans,” Engelbert says during a phone call on Friday. “Number two is that we elevate the WNBA and the value of these professional working athletes in society.” The players' value, as the 2020 season of pandemic and social justice protest attests, is of leadership and transformation. A fight for justice for Breonna Taylor’s family in collaboration with the #SayHerName campaign branched into a fight against Kelly Loeffler’s bid for reelection in the Georgia Senate race. The "Vote Warnock" shirts...