First, we at Swish Appeal would like to publicly thank outgoing WNBA President Donna Orender for her service.
As stated in the WNBA press release, she has been instrumental in the league's growth over the last few years.
During her tenure, the WNBA signed an eight-year extension of the league’s network television contract featuring up to 30 games annually on ABC and ESPN2 and a six-year extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement with its players.
During Orender’s time at the league, the WNBA introduced the "WNBA Marquee Marketing Partnership" program, which features branded sponsorship of game jerseys, as well as the Inspiring Women Luncheon, which brought together and recognized the nation’s female leaders, including such extraordinary women as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, newscaster Robin Roberts, and UN Ambassador Susan Rice.
The search for Orender’s successor will begin immediately, and NBA Senior Vice President, Team Marketing and Business Operations Chris Granger will oversee the league’s operations on an interim basis.
We are also particularly thankful that during her administration, the league has been gracious enough to grant us access to games and other league activities to support our passion for the game and help our audience grow beyond our family and friends who just support whatever we do.
So now we'd like to give back by helping along that search for a successor. Like some others, we believe that the league needs to start by looking outside the box to consider a broad and expansive range of candidates in order to ensure that we exhaust all options in our search for the best person to move this league forward.
So here is our completely hypothetical and generally anti-serious list of highly qualified candidates.
Candidates with WNBA Experience
Current position: Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach
Strengths: Coached the Detroit Shock to three WNBA championships, won the 2007 NBA All-Star Shooting Stars competition along with Swin Cash.
Weaknesses: No discernible weaknesses.
What he brings to the league: Credibility with the much-coveted male NBA fan demographic
This is less anti-serious than vaguely serious. Imagine the buzz if Laimbeer put his NBA coaching aspirations on hold to run the WNBA. He would probably be much more marketable to NBA fans during NBA playoff commercials than the current campaigns, which so many NBA fans simply find annoying.
You have to feel something about Laimbeer, good or bad, and that's good for the league.
The Maloof Brothers
Current position Co-owners of the Sacramento Kings.
Strengths: Experience running a championship WNBA franchise.
Weaknesses: Unexpectedly dissolved a WNBA franchise
What they bring to the league: A great story of redemption
Since leaving the WNBA, Joe Maloof has expressed a desire to get back in, perhaps even bringing the Monarchs back to Sacramento. However, the basketball situation in Sacramento being in a bit of flux currently, this would be an excellent way for the Maloof brothers to redeem themselves in the eyes of WNBA fans - showing their commitment to the league by stepping up and leading it into the future. Some might demand a detailed clause in their contract regarding resignation, but that's for the lawyers to discuss.
Non-WNBA Candidates With Basketball Experience
Geno Auriemma and Pat Summitt (Co-Presidents)
Current positions: Rather successful basketball coaches.
Strengths: All they do is win.
Weaknesses: They refuse to play each other.
What they bring to the league: Yin and Yang
There's a strong argument in politics that, in theory, picking cabinet members - or even a Vice President - with opposing views can be beneficial to decision making because it insures that the full breadth of options are considered before a final decision is made. Of course, in a Auriemma-Summit scenario, neither would ultimately be "The Decider" but we could absolutely hire a third party as "The Aribitrator" to resolve irresolvable disputes.
The bottom line is that if they're going to deprive women's basketball fans of competition between two of the most storied NCAA programs, the least they can do is run the WNBA and serve basketball in that way.
Outside of basketball
The Wu-Tang Clan
Current position: Indisputably among the best, and largest, hip-hop groups of all-time.
Strengths: They're from New York and mentioned Rod Strickland in a song, which gives them infinite NYC court cred.
Weakness: ODB is unfortunately no longer with us.
What they bring to the league: Grassroots business acumen, capacity for distributed rather than centralized management
First and foremost, Wu-Tang Clan ain't nuthin' ta mess wit'. But even beyond that, the fact that Cash Rules Everything Around them bodes well for the financial state of the league and having them market the WNBA during their 2010/11 Rebirth Tour would undoubtedly help bring publicity to the league. However, their even larger potential impact could be on merchandising - with the success of Wu Wear and its impact on the hip-hop industry, they could revolutionize the way in which the WNBA approaches merchandising and help strengthen that revenue stream.
But absolutely most important is their New York roots - many believe that the WNBA needs the New York Liberty franchise to be strong in order for the league to be strong and with the Liberty unable to play in Madison Square Garden for renovations, this might given New York fans a little extra boost. The biggest challenge might be monitoring them to make sure we limit solo efforts and keep the unit working together.
Current position: Undefined or revolutionary, depending on your political affiliation
Strengths: Outspoken "Title IX girl", much publicized basketball experience.
Weaknesses: We're actually not sure she has more experience than Barack Obama on this one, problems with gotcha media (of which, I swear Swish Appeal is not part of...but there will be questions), might still have POTUS aspirations
What she brings to the league: Attendance
Obviously, 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin knows basketball. We know that. But this is also a cheap ploy to increase attendance. In April, GOP fundraisers said they handed out 10,000 tickets to a Palin rally in Minnesota in support of - numbers that would make even the most aggressive WNBA teams blush - and later people Minnesotans paid $10,000 for private photos with her. When Palin showed up at the Tulsa Convention Center in September in support of Republican Governor-elect Mary Fallin, nearly 1,000 people paid $150 per ticket for the event. Fallin won. She hasn't had as much success with attendance in Chicago, but you get the point: she has pull and can bring in cash.
Current position: "I'm rich!"
Strengths: He is rumored to be interested in spending money on basketball.
Weaknesses: Would it be a conflict of interest if he found a team to relocate to Seattle?
What he brings to the league: "I'm rich!"
This should be really simple for people who don't like seeing the jersey endorsements - go out and find someone who can single-handedly fund the league. Steve Ballmer has a lot of money. And if he is unable to finalize the purchase of a NBA team to relocate to Seattle, this is obviously the next best thing. This might be disappointing to remaining Seattle NBA fans, but as of yet, I'm not aware of any rules against a WNBA President owning a NBA team too. He might be able to round up that much money to save the WNBA and the hopes and dreams of Seattle basketball fans.
Current position: Swish Appeal co-founder, SB Nation Arizona Editor, SB Nation NBA League Manger
Strengths: Intrepid reporter who has NBA and WNBA connections in Phoenix, made a dope frame-by-frame post of Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird's game-winning shot in the 2010 Western Conference Finals.
Weaknesses: Hasn't won as many basketball games as some of the other candidates
What he brings to the league: Transparency
First and foremost, without Seth Pollack, there is no Swish Appeal. So, obviously, he deserves consideration as WNBA President. But in case that's not enough, what he really brings is something WNBA fans have often called for: transparency. In addition to his groundbreaking reporting this year about both the Phoenix Mercury and Suns actually playing defense, Pollack also did an excellent job in his reporting on the Mercury's salary cap situation this past off-season, numbers which are often not released by the league.
As WNBA President, he would undoubtedly continue his fight for defense in Phoenix and transparency fort the league.