from OF the Past
Yesterday a little bit of Mystics past went up in smoke (literally) when the Charlotte Coliseum (aka The Hive) was imploded and reduced to rubble. While it saddens the BasketCases that the site of what may be the greatest moment in Mystics history (to date) no longer has a physical presence, the demolition served to remind us of that incredible day, the memories of which will live on. This being the franchise's 10th anniversary, perhaps it's fitting that we retell the story of Victory in Charlotte!
First, here's the video of the demolition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SA6-7xo5K0
. We've seen more impressive implosions on tv, but none has moved us quite like watching this one . . . because this building held some happy memories.
It was August 2002 (so we weren't under the odd year curse!). The Mystics were the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. We were playing the number #1 Charlotte Sting. The 3-game series opened at the MCI Center, with the next two games (if necessary) to be played in Charlotte. The Mystics stole the first win at home, in large part due to the huge turnout and loud and enthusiastic support of their fans. Next stop . . . The Hive!
Pat Summitt, son Tyler and husband R.B. (who, to the best of our knowledge has never bitten a policeman) gather with Mystics fans outside the Coliseum prior to tip-off
The BasketCases drove to Charlotte the night before and got to the arena early. We were pleasantly suprised to find many Mystics fans already gathered outside The Hive. As we mingled and waited, more Mystics fans arrived! . . . and then more Mystics fans arrived! . . . and then even more Mystics fans arrived! Sting fans kept staring at this veritable sea of Mystics blue and bronze, no doubt wondering where all these people had come from. And, this was not a team-organized roadtrip; this was individual fans piling into cars and vans, or catching last-minute flights in order to be there to support their team. Many drove the 6 hours on the morning of the game, with a 6-hour return trip waiting for them afterwards. But was it ever worth it!
The section behind the Mystics bench was already packed with fans before the game.
Murriel Page told us later that when she and her teammates came out of the locker room and saw all their fans, they knew they were going to win! Other sections had plenty of Mystics fans as well. There were hundreds of us there, and many of us thought to bring our own bangers (BYOB!), while Mystics staff handed out more bangers to the fans before the game. The Sting's fans, meanwhile, received rally towels -- noise advantage: Mystics! ESPN commentator and former WNBA coach Carolyn Peck said on the air that we were so loud, you'd think this game was being played in Washington!
Stacey Dales-Schuman, Annie Burgess, Chamique, Vicky Bullett and others huddling with Coach Marianne Stanley
It was a tight game throughout, every possession was critical. Lots of nails were bitten that day!
Victory in Charlotte!
The game came down to the final possession . . . and the narrowest of margins, but the Mystics prevailed! Number 4 completed the sweep of Number 1 . . . and the Mystics advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first (and to date, only)
time in their history!
Coco, Annie and Stacey thank the fans and sign autographs before boarding the bus.
The Mystics fans didn't want the excitement to end and were reluctant to leave the building after the game. Finally the lights were turned down and guards ushered the remaining fans outside. Even then, no one was rushing for their cars . . . we all had the same idea . . . let's find the team bus! The guards wouldn't let the fans get close to the loading area, but when Coach Stanley
stepped outside and saw us pressed up against the barriers or stacked 4 rows deep on the walkway above, trying to catch a glimpse of the team, she waded into the crowd and many of the team's players followed her lead.
Coco bids farewell to her sister (and defeated Sting opponent) Kelly and their Dad.
Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without a crying Miller twin . . . this time it was Kelly shedding the tears. Meanwhile, there were more than a few tears of joy shed by Mystics fans. And that 6-hour drive home . . . well, that just had to be the shortest 6-hour drive of our lives! Six hours of happily reliving every moment of our 3 hours at the now-no-longer Charlotte Coliseum.
Photo Credits: Imploding Coliseum - Charlotte Observer.com; Victory in Charlotte - WNBA.com/Mystics; all other photos - DC BasketCases
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We would be remiss if we did not mention some of the players from the old Charlotte Sting who played some great basketball in the Coliseum -- The Hive was home to such WNBA stars as the legendary Dawn Staley, our own Vicky Bullett, Andrea Stinson, Charlotte Smith, Tammy Sutton Brown, Alison Feaster, Crying Kelly Miller . . . and more!