Well, according to reports of the media teleconference that Ms. Johnson held this afternoon, this is what happened.
Plan A: Sheila asked Angela to work for less money. Angela declined. Goodbye Angela.
Plan B: Sheila immediately asked Julie, whose extensive basketball career has been spent entirely as a coach, to take on the significant (and different) responsibilities of being the GM as well as continuing to serve as Head Coach. Julie declined. Sheila spent a few weeks trying to get Julie to change her mind, but failed. Goodbye Julie.
Plan C: Sheila asked Trudi Lacey to take on both jobs, and Trudi accepted, thus becoming the 12th Mystics coach in 14 seasons. Hello Trudi.
According to Sheila, getting rid of the most successful GM and the most successful Head Coach in franchise history was just business:
"We had to make some cost changes. Even though we were successful on the floor, you have to understand, we weren't successful on the business side. We just have to make these changes in order to keep the franchise alive."
Of course, "success on the business side" was not part of Angela's job description, nor Julie's, except to the extent that they were responsible for putting the best possible product on the floor to be marketed to fans and sponsors. And as far as that was concerned, they were extraordinarily successful. And yet, they are both gone.
Reading the transcripts of Sheila's press call, she seems pretty oblivious to what it means to be a longtime fan of this team. A team that had been mired in mediocrity (or worse) for years and years, thanks in large measure to a constantly revolving door of coaches and GMs . . . and a consequent instability in management that precluded success on the court. She also seems oblivious to the emotional commitment that comes with being a longtime fan (along with the fan's financial investment).
And so we've concluded that she just doesn't "get" the disbelief that so many of us feel about what has happened in the past month to a team -- our team. A team that after more than a decade finally seemed to be on the right track . . . but now (again) has been derailed. (And we do not mean to imply any disrespect to Trudi Lacey, but there was no compelling reason at this point to change the GM or Head Coach.)
As you our readers know, we were incredibly upset over the news about Angela Taylor. Now, hearing about the loss of Julie, we are simply numb. Why should we continue to be emotionally invested in this franchise? We were told when Angela and Julie were hired that this time it would be different, but as with Charlie Brown, the ball still just keeps getting snatched away. Why should we continue to invest our money and emotions, only to be disappointed time and time again? Those are the questions we have been asking ourselves today. Frankly, right now, we just don't think we have it in ourselves any longer to care . . . certainly not to the extent we did. Congratulations, Mystics Front Office. Your business acumen has succeeded in driving a wedge between your product and your heretofore most loyal customers. A few months ago, we would've said such a thing was impossible. You proved us wrong.
To Julie Plank, we say thank you, thank you, thank you . . . for an incredible two years, for so much fun, and for so much hope. We wish you well in whatever life now brings your way. (And given what we've seen of your abilities at the Phone Booth, we know that any team -- professional or college -- would be so fortunate to have you on their bench.) You will be missed.
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Tuesday morning update . . . Hall of Famer Mel Greenberg takes the gloves off in his must-read analysis of the Mystics' "business" move here, the Washington Post's Kathy Orton, who yesterday posted a transcript of Ms. Johnson's teleconference (linked above), has an article here, and Milton Kent's summary of what transpired is here.