For pure excitement, it is hard to beat the day that we saw Brandy
Chastain as she watched her penalty kick go into the net, fell to her
knees and ripped off her jersey and waved it wildly over her head. Her
teammates waiting at mid-field tore down at her at full speed and buried
her under a pile of exuberant soccer players who had just won the World
But then there was the moment last year in the Houston/New York pro
basketball game when Liberty's Theresa Weatherspoon did a running
52-foot shot from beyond center court at the buzzer (in football they
would call it a Hail Mary) and watched the ball loft into the basket to
send Houston into a 24 hour depression.
I am an addict. No, not drugs or cigarettes or even hot fudge sundaes.
I am addicted to women's basketball, a game of my youth. Three times a
week during the summer I ignore everything else and sit in front of the
TV set and watch the Women's National Basketball Association games.
And then in August I go nuts as all the playoff games are televised.
The WNBA's fourth season has just ended.
My friend the philosopher tends to roll her eyes when I go on about
women's pro basketball and she is not alone. My favorite sport is not a
number one priority in Colorado and is barely mentioned in the state
newspapers (including mine!). But just wait until we get a Colorado
team. Then they'll pay attention.
Women's pro basketball is a different game from the men's. Because of
physical size it is not a game of run and dunk. Even at 6' the women
have to aim and throw the ball in the basket. They can't just reach up
and drop it in from above. It is a game requiring more skill and
teamwork. Steve Marantz writing in Sporting News, said, "Sport is a
meritocracy. Women combine form with function ... Toughness isn't
gender specific. The toughness of the male athlete may start with
cultural expectations. The toughness of women athletes must come from
For pure emotion and intensity, you can't beat Cheryl Miller, the
Mercury coach. She has been ejected more than once. But after the game
she often dances around the court with her brother, Pacer star Reggie,
who has been
doing the play by play.
And the players -- these women are great athletes and they bring their
individual personalities and styles to the game, to say nothing of their
Tina Thompson doesn't color her hair purple like Dennis Rodman, but she
does wear black lipstick. After her playing days she plans to go to law
school and hopes to become a judge.
Susie McConnell Serio, a 5' 5" 125 pound dynamo, married and mother of
four, is retiring this year at 38.
Lisa Leslie, 6' 5" with skin like coffee with thick cream is sensational
model when she is not leading the Los Angeles Sparks.
Rebecca Lobo, 6' 4" was the youngest member of that great team that won
the gold in Atlanta in 1996. She suffered a knee injury during the
first minute of play for New York in the season opener in 1999. Unable
to play for two years, she has been on the bench cheering them on at
After the Houston Comets won their final "Fourpeat" game, Sheryl Swoopes
celebrated by running around the court with her son Jordan riding on her
shoulders. He too was wearing a number 22 jersey, size 3.
One of my email friends, who is even more of a WNBA fanatic than I am,
writes of Sue Wicks, forward for Liberty, who seems to move so
effortlessly with her long blonde hair tied back. "She reminds me of
those gorgeous National Geographic scenes of giraffes moving
majestically across the plains." Sue speaks Japanese, Italian and
Cynthia Cooper, MVP, will never earn a fraction of the money Michael
Jordan makes, but her tall, willowy beauty combined with superb athletic
ability and a ferocious desire to win does remind me of him.
The WNBA season is over, but we still have the Olympics. Then I can go
back to Jeopardy and West Wing.