With word coming today that the Shock will reportedly move to Tulsa, I am hard pressed to shed a tear.
Obviously, it is better for the league to be expanding and not contracting. Obviously, this is horrible news for loyal Shock fans in the Motor City. And obviously, this a more food for the haters.
But as a new fan of the WNBA without the perspective of history and nostalgia I am only seeing the bright side of this news.
Lets assume that the Shock indeed move to Tulsa and become the Tulsa Cowgirls (or hopefully a much better name) then the league will stay at 13 teams. In the long run the league will need to expand but it would be a serious mistake to expand faster than the talent level can support.
As this great analysis shows, the WNBA is reaching new heights in performance levels and I believe that a big reason why is the contraction that occurred after the 2008 season. If Tulsa had entered the league as a new team, the inevitable expansion draft would have weakened the league at exactly the wrong time.
The best thing for the WNBA right now is to consolidate the gains it made in 2009 and come back with another strong year in 2010. Expansion should only occur when there's enough talent to support it. While it might be hard to turn down opportunities to grow, in the long run it would be a prudent move.
Focus on getting better and expanding coverage and access before diluting the product.
The other positive to come out of this is the destruction of the Detroit Bad Girls. Apologies to any Shock fans out there, but there are very few observers of the WNBA who consider Detroit as a model team when it comes to either style of play or fan friendly culture.
Moving the team to Tulsa and replacing Rick Mahorn and the Bad Boy legacy will only help the overall reputation and entertainment value of the league. This isn't about style of play as much as attitude and culture. The Fever were are great defensive team and they were a very enjoyable team to follow.
The physical style of hit 'em in the mouth play is waning in the NBA and exercising the Shock from the WNBA will only hasten the process here.
Now, all of this goes out the window if the Atlanta Dream end up folding. That would be a real travesty.