In the Summer of 1998, the WNBA welcomed two expansion teams to its ranks, one named the Washington Mystics and the other the Detroit Shock.
Now only one remains. Early this morning, the news broke on the RebKell WNBA message board that the Shock were leaving Detroit and heading to Oklahoma. By this evening, ESPN was also reporting that a group from Tulsa had indeed bought the Detroit franchise.
While the Shock players will still have jobs -- albeit in another city -- their fans in Detroit will no longer have a team. And Coach Mahorn and his staff, well, they apparently are not part of the deal. Tulsa has already hired former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson. We also suspect that the Shock's name, so fitting for Detroit, will not fit quite as well in Tulsa.
The BasketCases find all of this very sad. We hate it when WNBA teams fail. We hate it for the sport of women's professional basketball, but we hate it most for the fans of the failed team. No doubt there are fans in the Motor City who feel as passionately about their (former) team as the BasketCases and so many others in D.C. feel about the Mystics. We know there are . . . we've met some of them. And what's particularly sad is that the Shock failed at the box office . . . certainly not on the court. They own 3 WNBA Championship trophies. In fact, they are the only team in the Eastern Conference to have won the big one, and they did it not once, not twice, but three times in their 12-year history. Pretty damn good.
But Detroit's paid attendance has struggled for years, and the economic meltdown that absolutely clobbered the city may have been the final blow. So are we shocked that the franchise was sold? No, not really. But just because many of us saw the writing on the wall doesn't mean that the reality of it really and truly sucks.