Former Phoenix Mercury center Brooke Smith (center) didn't get off the bench often in her WNBA career, but she will forever hold a spot in many Merc fan's hearts. Photo by Craig Bennett/112575 Media.
"An acre of performance is worth a whole world of promise" -Red Auerbach
Any basketball junkie like myself should know and appreciate the symbolic value to the phrase "victory cigar", long associated with Boston Celtics legendary coach Red Auerbach.
As we head back into the stretch run for the WNBA season, which in turns gives way to the NBA season, basketball sites and blogs are filled to the brim with articles about the big names, and rightfully so. With that being said, we all know that it takes a team in this sport we love; and although it's quite the cliche, every player matters. The starters and main rotation players tend to get all the love and glory in a team's success, but why not give props to those players that graciously accept their roles and do them happily night in, night out?
As a Phoenix Mercury (and not to mention Stanford) homer, I think immediately back to the 2009 championship season. Comparable to the likes of a Darko Milicic, circa 2004, when you saw #21 Brooke Smith take the floor, you knew the game was in hand, one way or another.
Smith, a member of two Stanford Elite Eight teams before graduating in 2007, was a smooth post with good footwork to match nice touch in the post. The major flaw in Smith's game was that she wasn't as quick as many of the posts she faced in the WNBA during the glory years of the Mercury-Detroit Shock rivalry.
Unlike many proverbial "human victory cigars" Smith was actually able to have moderate success in the winter with her teams in Europe. In her most recent campaign, suiting up for Pool Comense of Italy's A1 league, Smith averaged a respectable 12.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per toss-up while shooting 50% from the field.
Though she may never find major success in the WNBA, Smith will forever hold a spot in many Merc fan's hearts. What she brought to the team won't be found in her career averages of 2.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest, but the heart, hustle, and pure joy she displayed while wearing the purple and orange will forever invoke memories of good times in American Airlines Arena and Phoenix Mercury history.
With SBN-NBA's rundown of the greatest cult heroes for each team around the NBA, this is our contribution for one team in the WNBA. You can look around the NBA network for other fans' takes on "cult classics", but for our purposes here, who are some of your WNBA (or your favorite WNBA team's) cult classics? For a few ideas, other readers have already posted some on our Facebook page (and while you're there, why not "like" it?).