Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Number of Firsts

When you see United States Secret Service vehicles parked outside the Phone Booth, that's a pretty good hint as to who'll be attending the game . . .

And indeed, for the first time in franchise history, the President of the United States took in a Mystics game at the Verizon Center. President Obama was accompanied this afternoon by daughter Sasha and one of Sasha's friends. They sat courtside flanked by Mystics co-owners Ted Leonsis and Sheila Johnson. Sasha was smartly decked out in an Alana Beard jersey, and AB herself came over later to say hello. The President appeared to be enjoying himself, and spent a good portion of the game apparently explaining to Sasha and her friend the finer points of what was happening on the court.

But unfortunately, "finer" points were few and far between today. Truthfully, had the President not been in the house, this game would have been a complete snoozer. The bottom-feeding Tulsa afterShock, who arrived today with a 4-21 record, were (to the disappointment of anyone hoping for an exciting game) as dreadful as you might expect a team with that record to be. The Tulsa players gave it their all and played hard, but for the entire game it seemed to those of us watching that the Mystics were playing some other team's bench. After racing out to a 25-9 lead in the first quarter, the home team set their speed to cruise control and then drove safely to their intended destination. (We hope that POTUS doesn't think all WNBA games are this lopsided and, well, boring.)

With a little more than four minutes left in the game, and the Mystics up by nearly 30 points, it was time for the President to head out, waving to the crowd as he left. We're confident he didn't wonder about the eventual outcome, but for the record, the final score was 87-62. There's little question the Mystics could have stretched the margin some more, but (we think wisely) Coach Plank decided resting some of her starters was the greater good.

The most entertaiment this afternoon came after the game, when the Mystics held their annual post-game auction to benefit the Sibley Hospital Sullivan Center for Breast Health. As usual, Mystics COO Greg Bibb served as auctioneer. He's tremendously talented at this, and his skill at pushing the bids higher and higher helped raise a lot of money for a very good cause.

The items up for auction today included not only the usual game-worn pink jerseys, but also a number of other pretty cool collectibles, including Lang's larger-than-life "Got Milk" ad, which fetched $1200. Several basketball-related trips were among the most successfull auction items: a road trip to see the Mystics play San Antonio, including lunch with GM Angela Taylor, brought in $3300; a trip to the Stanford/UConn game to sit with Angela Taylor (a former Stanford star and Natty winner) and including an opportunity to meet Coach VanDerveer netted $3125; and a trip down to Knoxville to see Maryland's Vicky Bullett inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame went for $3500.

Rookie Jacinta Monroe led off the clothing auction with a bit of styling, snagging $600 for her jersey . . . a bargain.

The always popular Kia saw her jersey (and shoes) bid up to $1050.

Marissa's jersey and shoes went for a staggering four grand!

While the auction was going on, there was another "first" happening in the background -- Ted Leonsis was working in the empty stands cleaning up the arena after the game. Ted recently blogged that, as the new owner of the Verizon Center, he intended to make sure everything in the arena was up to snuff. He said he wanted first-hand experience with every job in the arena -- including joining the cleaning crew after a game -- to see how the jobs of all the employees are done. And so, true to his word, there he was, picking up the empty pizza boxes, water bottles, beer and soda cups and plenty of other trash. How often have you seen a billionaire owner of a sports conglomerate do that? Well, for us, this was a first.

As she did last year, Matee Ajavon joined Greg to help hawk the items up for bid. She definitely has a natural talent for this!

Lindsey personally thanked the fan who paid $2100 for her game jersey and a signed practice jersey from this year's All Star Game.

As might have been expected, the item that brought in the most money today was Katie Smith's jersey. Matee really helped run up the bids by reminding the fans that "Katie has played for thousands of years, and this could be her last jersey." Matee kept adding to the package, getting the bids up higher and higher. Katie's shoes were thrown in, then a home white jersey, lunch, and, finally, at Matee's insistence, an opportunity to meet Katie's dog. That did it, and the package went for (drumroll please) . . .FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!

Finally, Greg auctioned off a basketball signed by the President, which Sheila Johnson bought for $4000, and a signed Number 44 Obama jersey, which a lucky fan took home for $3100. Last year's auction brought in nearly $40,000. Today's set a record -- earning nearly $70,000 for Sibley Hospital. Another first!

After today's scrimmage game, the Mystics return to real competition on Tuesday, when they face the conference-leading Dream on-the-road in Atlanta at 7:30 PM in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Dream!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases


At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great game. They should have won by that much and they did! Way to go Mystics. Big game tomorrow!

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad the auction went well.
also glad putting the attendance banners on the auction block was a flop.

At 8:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry - the comment I added about the appearance by 2 former Mystics this Saturday was not a commercial promotion - I don't have any affiliation other than liking the place's food. I thought folks would like a chance to see Penny and Markita.

At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know who the guy in the yellow polo shirt sitting with Ted and the President is? He walked Alana over and back when she went to say hi.

At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man in yellow shirt....
(from Wikipedia)

Reginald L. Love (born June 21, 1981) serves as the special assistant and personal aide, commonly referred to as body man, to United States President Barack Obama.

He attended high school at Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated with a degree in political science and public policy from Duke University. He was a forward for the Duke Blue Devils basketball team, played on the 2001 team that won the NCAA national championship, and was a captain of the 2005 team.[5] He also played wide receiver for the Duke football team, and tried out unsuccessfully with several NFL teams.[2][

At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Sue said...

As a Mystics fan, breast cancer survivor and Obama supporter, there really wasn't anything not to love yesterday. Oh, I also love the very catchy addition to the Tulsa team name, the "afterShock." As well as being appropriate for the team as it has (d)evolved this season, it ties them to the other pro basketball team in Oklahoma, the Thunder.

At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Shock are a horrible team. Geez, feel sorry for their fans. I guess Maya Moore will be playing in Tulsa next year.

At 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i feel sorry for Maya if that happens

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did happen with the attendance banners? We were joking that you had to have a really big space to hang them.

Some folks couldn't stay for the entire auction and were a little disappointed that the player's jerseys were auctioned toward the end. Sounds like it all worked out to really benefit the cause though!!!

At 6:39 PM, Blogger BasketCases said...

The 1998 attendance banner went for $550 ($50 more than the starting bid). No one bid on the other two banners, not even when Greg offered them as a package for $400.

As for the jerseys, we suspect that one reason for having them later in the auction is because the players aren't immediately available right after the game. The auction was well underway by the time the players started coming back out of the locker room.

-- BC

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anybody provide a list of what each jersey went for?

At 10:05 PM, Blogger BasketCases said...

The jerseys (with shorts and often other things, like shoes and lunch, thrown in) went for:

Monroe: $600
Ajavon: 750
Smith: 5000
Houts: 675
Melvin: 600
Sanford: 1050
Beard: 3100
Coleman: 4000
Langhorne: 2800
Harding: 2100
Currie: 1400
Obama: 3100

-- BC

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Section 118 said...

My fiancee - a founding fan from day 1 - and I bought the 1998 banner to serve as part of the chuppah we are constructing for our wedding next year.

At 2:53 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Section 118- oh, WOW, that's amazing. Please remember to circulate pictures!

At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the list, BC. I would have liked to get Houts, but my stupid friend forgot that I told him to call me so he could bid for me and didn't stay for the auction. Do you remember, specifically, what else I missed by not winning this auction?


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