Rest in Peace, Mystics Fan.
Best known to the world as the feisty, funny, sharp-tongued, Harley-riding, one-term Governor of Texas, Ann Richards died yesterday of cancer at the age of 73. But she was many other things; and among those other things, she was a Mystics fan. In the early years of the franchise, while in Washington, Ann Richards would often stop by the Phone Booth to watch the Mystics play ball. She didn't arrive with an entourage, or bodyguards, or any fanfare. She wasn't there to receive an award at halftime or to use the occasion to promote a cause. If you didn't recognize her, you wouldn't have known she was there. She sat with friends, she laughed, she cheered . . . just like any other Mystics fan. Now other teams' fans, like the Comets, might try to claim her as their own --- we won't object --- we'll agree to share her. Because Ann Richards was one very special fan who, if truth be told, fans of any WNBA team could probably say belonged to them . . . at least a little. Ann Richards wasn't just a fan of women's basketball, she was a fan of extraordinary women doing extraordinary things. And perhaps after ten years, we forget that that's what the WNBA, when it was launched, was all about --- and continues to be to this day --- extraordinary women doing extraordinary things. The BasketCases have no doubt that Ann Richards, a woman in her late-60s when she sat in the stands at games, at some point must have reflected on the fact that when she was the same age as Nikki McCray, Murriel Page, Tina Thompson, Sheryl Swoopes and others, it was beyond imagining that women would some day be be playing professional basketball in an NBA arena in front of 16,000 screaming fans! Yes, an extraordinary woman, Ann Richards, who did extraordinary things . . . how could a woman like that not be a friend and fan of the WNBA? The BasketCases are left to wonder how much better would the world have been if she'd been reelected to a second term as Governor of Texas. We guess we'll never know. But we do know that yesterday, Mystics fans and WNBA fans everywhere lost one of their own. Rest in Peace, Ann Richards. (And, Ann, if you happen to be talking with the Big Gal upstairs, would you mind whispering in her ear: Go Mystics . . . Go WNBA?)