Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Thanks, We Needed That! For these two Mystics fans, the WNBA's All Star Weekend couldn't have come at a better time.

With an 0-8 start and only 3 home wins so far this season, this year's Mystics team has tried our patience and tested our ability to maintain a sense of humor. Sometimes, we confess, we failed the test . . . getting a little testy ourselves. But the All Star Game and the weekend's related activities not only provided the Mystics' faithful with a much needed all star break, it also helped many of us re-Discover* the fun and joy of being of being a WNBA fan.

The week before the big event, we weren't sensing much enthusiasm for the ASG among fans at the Phone Booth. None of the Mystics was voted onto the East's starting line-up; traditionally, only ASG players got to compete in the skills events; there were no open practices on the schedule for fans; nothing about the fan fest (Be Tour) mentioned appearances or activities involving the ASG players. Truth be told, we were beginning to wonder if this All Star Game would be just another disappointment following an already disappointing start to the season. The internet message boards lit up with fans from all over the country wondering if their ASG roadtrips would turn out to be a bust.

But then -- just when things were looking pretty bleak -- everything changed for the better! The coaches selected two Mystics players as Eastern Conference reserves -- Alana Beard and DeLisha Milton-Jones. And thanks in large part to some very effective Washington-style lobbying by the Mystics' front office, DC's own (and former All Star) Nikki Teasley, and the Mystics' favorite bench-warmer and sharpshooter, Laurie Koehn, were added to the WNBA's skills competitions. Not only that, but the Western Conference coaches added DC homegirls Becky Brunson and Kara Lawson to their All Star reserves. All of a sudden, Sunday's game turned into something that Mystics fans could look forward to!

But if that weren't enough, the WNBA's front office, showing an extraordinary responsiveness to the league's fans, clarified the Be-Tour's schedule, announcing that both the East and West All Star teams would be appearing at the fan fest on Saturday . . . running through some practice drills, signing some autographs, interacting with the the fans! Things had definitely turned the corner! At the same time, the Mystics' front office (again thanks to Washington's favorite pastime, lobbying) convinced the league office to release enough invitations to the Benning Road Boys & Girls Club practice site to accommodate their 10-year Season Ticket Holders. So the weekend went from Bad, to Good . . . and, if you were a 10 year STH, to Great!

By now everybody, of course, knows how this story ends: Laurie thrilled her fans with that amazing record-setting 3-point shooting clinic! The Eastern Conference All-Stars battled their Western Conference counterparts in a high-scoring, tightly contested and fun-to-watch exhibition game . . . and the Mystics' DeLisha and Alana both played well, like the All Stars DC fans know them to be. The Phone Booth was FULL, no doubt making every long-suffering Mystics fan nostalgic for those early seasons when the place was rockin' -- night in and night out! It may have been only one game, one afternoon, but we got to experience that packed-arena excitement all over again.

As the BasketCases filed out of the Phone Booth at the conclusion of the game, we were smiling. And as we looked around, we realized we weren't alone . . . everybody was smiling, everybody was happy. Thank you WNBA. Thank you Mystics. Thank you for All Star weekend in Washington.


*True Story: When a WNBA fan on line in front of us at the NBA booth at the Be Tour tried to pay for her All-Star merchandise (complete with ASG and Discover Card logos!) with her Discover Card . . . she was told "Sorry, we only take Mastercard and Visa." Ooops.


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