The Mystics run a season long documentary all season called Mystics Magazine. Naturally with this season being the 15th year in business, this was a pretty important year in many ways, because the franchise is the longest lasting expansion franchise in its original city. Therefore, the Mystics released a special episode of Mystics Magazine, hosted by CSN Mid Atlantic's Kelli Johnson (who is also a former D-I basketball player herself actually from the Universtiy of Idaho), instead of Ashley Robinson who has done most of the hosting this season.
I don't like giving much analysis on a show like this, but in case you don't have 20-30 minutes to watch all the videos, I'll give you a quick summary after the jump.
This is pretty factual stuff that many fans, even myself included probably don't know too much about. Abe Pollin and his enterprise, Washington Sports and Entertainment, was awarded a WNBA expansion team in 1997, along with Detroit. Wes Unseld, also a very important part of company history, was instrumental in getting the Mystics started up.
Season ticket deposits were $50 a seat. Fans who stayed onboard for the Mystics year after year after year until today are known as Founding Fans. Among the Mystics fanbase, a large proportion of the fans are either Founding Fans or pretty damn close, like in 1999 when Chamique Holdsclaw got drafted.
This is when some of the "selective history" comes in. The good points were highlighted and the negative points were minimized. References to Katie Smith, Julie Plank, and Angela Taylor were minimized. They never highlighted Katie's signing (which was like the BIGGEST THING EVER when it happened) and Lindsey Harding's. Not surprised why. Great censoring Monumental Sports!
Another sight that gives me a what could have been was when the draft board for 2004 was shown where Diana Taurasi was selected over Alana Beard. Again, I'm thankful a player like Alana played here in DC and she was a great star for us, but at the same time, what if we got Taurasi instead? Then what? 2002 is the same thing, but they didn't show the draft board that year.
The Verizon Center also hosted two All Star Games in history in 2002 and 2007. The most notable was in 2002, when two Mystics, Chamique and Stacey Dales made the All Star game to play for their local fans. This was also a very landmark game where many of today's legends, some of whom are still in their prime played in their first ever All Star Game and would become faces of the league now. They include rookies Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings as well as Penny Taylor. These three played with some of the founding legends which included Lisa Leslie, Teresa Weatherspoon, Dawn Staley, Pee Wee Johnson, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina T, and Katie Smith. All this latter stuff was not in the video, but for a game with that type of talent pool, and for it to be in DC, well, I think I'm entitled to post it. Aside from the Dream Season, 2002 is an important year because the Mystics advanced to the Conference Finals for their first and only ever appearance in that round.
Pretty factual. Murriel is now an assistant at her alma mater, Florida. Nikki McCray is an assistant at South Carolina, alongside Dawn Staley who she played with in the 2000 Olympic Team. Bullett, who was a Mystics assistant in 2009, is now the head coach at Hagerstown CC in Maryland.
Segment 4: Interview with Team President Sheila Johnson. She said that Mr. Pollin approached her and wanted her to buy the team which she did by joining Ted's group. She also talked about how being the Mystics' team president has been.
Yeah, when this segment is done and when questions are asked by Monumental Sports TV/Video Producer Jumoke Davis (who actually makes great video work all things considered - he's won Emmys for Wizards Magazine), this section pissed me off. All the questions just seemed to focus on the novelty of being in the ownership group of a professional sports team. Then again, this is Mystics Magazine, not an interview on a radio show, so that is to be expected to some degree. The best comments that Johnson ever said in regards to how the team is doing now is that she said that everyone is trying hard, and that some things are just out of their control.
Jesus Christ, the front office is in your control! Sure, the basketball plays and scores aren't directly your responsibility, but you still showed Angela and Julie the door! There was still ultimately no true commitment to younger players outside of that era! You think I'm a moron as well as all other angry fans out there?
This is the only segment that finally hit reality. This team sucks because the record says so, but of course, publicly, they'll try to turn it around. Sure many games are against sub .500 opponents, but the Mystics were healthy this season while other teams had injuries, or players in the Olympics, or players who sat out to get rested for the Olympics in the case of Diana Taurasi. I don't see how the Mystics look that much better for the 2nd half this season, even if they improve their chemistry.
Concluding Thoughts on the video and Franchise History
Nicely edited video, but it also didn't have enough realism. Sure the episode shouldn't be all doom and gloom, but it's not like the franchise's only bad years were in the very beginning. Then again, it sounds like Sheila Johnson just didn't want to mention Angela Taylor or Julie Plank by name....
Being a Mystics fan, there are two pieces of reality that really hurt. First, this is the worst franchise in the league on the basketball court, even though the Sky may certainly be catching up if its playoff drought continues this year and even next though it should change this year. Of all the teams that lasted 10 years or more in the WNBA, the Mystics are the ONLY TEAM that has NEVER made the Finals. Also, the Mystics have had more head coaches in their existence than any other team in the league that has lasted as long. Perhaps that is why Johnson is still all in for Lacey.
The second dose of reality is that the Mystics have never really committed long term in the past to draft picks who were consolation prizes in crucial drafts. Stacey Dales was a minor consolation prize in the 2002 Draft and wasn't even in the league that many years later, while the players drafted before her led their teams to championships soon after they came into the league and have legendary resumes.
Let me also tell you something I never really said before though I guess I've hinted at it. Maybe I'll write it later sometime. The players drafted before Dales were actually a major, but not the only factor in getting me to watch WNBA games over the long run, but at the same time gave me the foundation to start supporting my local WNBA team too. I'm no UConn fanatic, but watching the 2001-2002 team's dominance was what gave me the initial interest to start following the WNBA much more once they became pros. I only regret that they never played for my local team.
Even the player drafted after Dales was a Mystic but was never given a true chance here, and was cast off to Connecticut and she blew up in our faces and also won a gold medal this past weekend. Seems like with the exception of Alana Beard, the Mystics just didn't seem to invest and try to improve their rookies and build them into at least above avg players over the long haul, even when they were a pick away from someone else.
So in short, I'm back into Angry Mystics Fan mode once again while still cautiously optimistic that things will change. Unfortunately, this video did nothing to make me feel more optimistic so I won't see any exciting sports at Verizon Center until the Caps play, assuming there's no lockout this season.
Don't get me wrong. While the franchise certainly should commemorate its past and its bright moments which Monumental Sports obviously did, the brutally honest truth is that there isn't that much to celebrate about with Mystics basketball aside from the novelty of a franchise being in business. I demand a well run organization dedicated toward long term winning and building generational teams, and really, nothing has been said on that front!
Do you think I'd be wasting my time writing 100 takes about being frustrated and angry about Washington's WNBA franchise if I didn't care?! I really hope things do change, and that I still have a team to support in my city. I really do.
1. Andy Arnold of The Examiner also adds that "Lacey must go" and says that she has "mortgaged the future on has beens." He hit it on the head. The title of his piece is not what it seems. Some of the comments also suggest that this team move to the Bay, which I did touch on in an earlier rant. (Read here)
2. This is not a Mystics link but I can see some parallelisms between the Boston Red Sox and the Mystics with players just not feeling the coach, and when they arrange a meeting with ownership to get the coach fired. At least in this case, Boston ownership gave a vote of confidence in Sox Manager Bobby Valentine, while the Mystics have just remained mum and hope that Jennifer Gillom being on Team USA and the Olympic Break will make angry fans shut up. From Yahoo! (Read here)
More Mystics Rants and Criticisms (but not exhaustive)
Links During Break | What the Mystics Should Have Done Yet Failed To Consider | The Storm and Mystics are on the opposite sides on how they run house, not to mention geographically | Mystics Are Meddling | Nate wasn't too thrilled about them either | DC Basketcases Tuned Out The Mystics | And yet, they're the first ones to tell us that players had to write letters to the coach after a loss....