Women's National Basketball Association
The Women's National Basketball Association is a professional basketball league in the United States. It is composed of twelve teams; the league was founded on April 24, 1996, as the women's counterpart to the National Basketball Association, league play started in 1997. The regular season is played from May to September with the All Star game being played midway through the season in July and the WNBA Finals at the end of September until the beginning of October. Five WNBA teams have direct NBA counterparts and play in the same arena: the Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, Washington Mystics; the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings, Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty, Seattle Storm do not share an arena with a direct NBA counterpart, although four of the seven share a market with an NBA counterpart, the Storm shared an arena and market with an NBA team at the time of its founding. The Dream, the Sky, the Sun, the Wings, the Aces, the Sparks, the Storm are all independently owned.
The creation of the WNBA was approved by the NBA Board of Governors on April 24, 1996, announced at a press conference with Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes in attendance. The new WNBA had to compete with the formed American Basketball League, another professional women's basketball league that began play in 1996; the WNBA began with eight teams: the Charlotte Sting, Cleveland Rockers, Houston Comets and New York Liberty in the Eastern Conference. While not the first major women's professional basketball league in the United States, the WNBA is the only league to receive full backing of the NBA; the WNBA logo, "Logo Woman", was selected out of 50 different designs. On the heels of a much-publicized gold medal run by the 1996 USA Basketball Women's National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the WNBA began its first season on June 21, 1997 to little fanfare; the first WNBA game featured the New York Liberty facing the Los Angeles Sparks in Los Angeles. The game was televised nationally in the United States on the NBC television network.
At the start of the 1997 season, the WNBA had television deals in place with NBC, the Walt Disney Company and Hearst Corporation joint venture channels, ESPN and Lifetime Television Network, respectively. Penny Toler scored the league's first point; the WNBA centered its marketing campaign, dubbed "We Got Next", around stars Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes. In the league's first season, Leslie's Los Angeles Sparks underperformed and Swoopes sat out much of the season due to her pregnancy; the WNBA's true star in 1997 was Swoopes' teammate on the Houston Comets. The Comets defeated Lobo's New York Liberty in the first WNBA Championship game; the initial "We Got Next" advertisement ran before each WNBA season until it was replaced with the "We Got Game" campaign. Two teams were added in 1998 and two more in 1999, bringing the number of teams in the league up to twelve; the 1999 season began with a collective bargaining agreement between players and the league, marking the first collective bargaining agreement to be signed in the history of women's professional sports.
The WNBA announced in 1999 that it would add four more team for the 2000 season, bringing the league up to 16 teams, with WNBA President Val Ackerman discussing expansion: "This won't be the end of it. We expect to keep growing the league."In 1999, the league's chief competition, the American Basketball League, folded. Many of the ABL's star players, including several Olympic gold medalists and a number of standout college performers joined the rosters of WNBA teams and, in so doing, enhanced the overall quality of play in the league; when a lockout resulted in an abbreviated NBA season, the WNBA saw faltering TV viewership. On May 23, 2000, the Houston Comets became the first WNBA team to be invited to the White House Rose Garden. Before this invitation, only men's sports teams had traveled to the White House. At the end of the 2000 season, the Houston Comets won their fourth championship, capturing every title since the league's inception. Led by the "Big Three" of Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson, four-time Finals MVP Cynthia Cooper, the Comets dominated every team in the league.
Under head coach Van Chancellor, the team posted a 98–24 record through their first four seasons. After 2000, Cooper retired from the league and the Comets dynasty came to an end; the top contender in the 2001 season was the Los Angeles Sparks. Led by Lisa Leslie, the Sparks posted a regular-season record of 28–4, they advanced to their first WNBA Finals and swept the Charlotte Sting. Looking to repeat in 2002, the Sparks again made a strong run toward the postseason, going 25–7 in the regular season under head coach Michael Cooper of the Los Angeles Lakers. Again, Leslie dominated opponents throughout the Playoffs, leading the Sparks to a perfect 6–0 record through all three rounds, beating the New York Liberty in the 2002 Finals. Teams and the league were collectively owned by the NBA until the end of 2002, when the NBA sold WNBA teams either to their NBA counterparts in the same city or to a third party, as a result of the dot-com bubble; this led to two teams moving: Utah moved to San Antonio, Orlando moved to Connecticut and became the first WNBA team to be
WNBA on ESPN
The WNBA on ESPN refers to the presentation of Women's National Basketball Association games on the ESPN family of networks. Under the title of WNBA Tuesday, games are broadcast throughout the WNBA season on Tuesday nights on ESPN2. In June 2003, the WNBA signed a new six-year agreement with ABC Sports and ESPN to televise regular-season games and playoff games from 2003 through 2008, it was announced that ESPN2 would televise a half-hour pre-game show before each broadcast. In June 2007, the WNBA signed another contract extension with ESPN; the new television deal runs from 2009 to 2016. A minimum of 18 games will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 each season. Additionally, a minimum of 11 postseason games will be broadcast on any of the three stations. Along with this deal came the first rights fees to be paid to a women's professional sports league. WNBA president Donna Orender and John Skipper, ESPN vice president for content, gave no exact figure but said it was worth "millions and millions of dollars".
Beginning with the 2009 WNBA season, all nationally broadcast WNBA games are shown in high definition. On March 28, 2013, ESPN and the WNBA announced they had extended their agreement through 2022. Under the agreement, there will be up to 30 games a year televised on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 each season, including the Finals. Although the financial terms of the deal were not stated by ESPN or the WNBA, Sports Business Daily reported that sources said the deal was worth $12 million a year. In 2014 ESPN and the WNBA renegotiated the television rights deal to $25 million per year. Announcers change from year to year, but recent play-by-play personalities have included: Terry Gannon, Mark Jones, Dave Pasch and Pam Ward. Game broadcasts include a pair of announcers—alongside those providing play-by-play are the color analysts which have included Doris Burke, Nancy Lieberman, Carolyn Peck, Rebecca Lobo; these broadcasts commonly include a sideline reporter. Recent sideline reporters have included Heather Cox, Holly Rowe and Rebecca Lobo.
During halftime of the broadcasts, Cindy Brunson, more Doris Burke, provide game analysis and other sports updates. One unique aspect of WNBA coverage on the ESPN family of networks is that many of the participants wear live microphones. Starting with the 2003 WNBA All Star Game, most games televised have involved coaches and referees being wired for sound. On some occasions, the sound of players and coaches talking will overlap with commentary. During the 2006 WNBA Finals, Detroit Shock head coach, former ESPN NBA analyst, Bill Laimbeer became irritated by ESPN's coverage, quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying: Laimbeer banned ESPN from the Shock locker room for Game 4 of the series, refused to wear a live microphone for that game. Former Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault admitted that he does not like having a microphone on during games, he said that he sometimes finds himself turning the microphone off. Saturday and Sunday afternoon games were broadcast on ABC. Tuesday night games were broadcast on ESPN2.
But over time that changed. For 2013, only one game was shown on ABC on Saturday, June 8, thirteen games were shown on ESPN2 on five different days of the week. On opening day for the 2008 season, ABC broadcast the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury matchup; the game received a little over 1 million viewers. Average viewership for games broadcast on national television was 413,000. Average viewership for the 2007 WNBA finals was 545,000. In 2008, the WNBA finished up in key demographics on ESPN2—Women 18–34 and Men 18–34 – and on ABC—All Women and Women 18–34. Ratings remain poor in comparison to NBA games. WNBA games averaged just 413,000 viewers, compared to 1.46 million viewers for NBA games. The 2009 regular season on ESPN2 concluded with an average of 269,000 viewers, up 8% vs. 2008 season. In addition, regular-season games on ESPN2 saw increases in key demographics, including men 18–34, men 18–49 and men 23–54; the WNBA finals between the Mercury and Fever had the highest average ratings, since average finals ratings began being recorded in 2007.
The 2011 season on ESPN2 averaged 270,000 viewers per game, the league's highest since 2005 and up 5% from an average of 258,000 in 2010. Viewership for the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game on ABC was up 46% from the previous game. Game 2 of the 2012 WNBA Finals between the Indiana Fever and Minnesota Lynx was broadcast on ESPN and received 778,000 viewers and a.6 household rating. This was the highest rated WNBA broadcast on ESPN since a 1999 Western Conference Finals game between the Houston Comets and Los Angeles Sparks received 1,052,000 viewers and a 1.1 household rating. The average viewership for the 4 finals games in 2012 was 477,000. For 2013 the league averaged 231,000 viewers for 13 games on ESPN2, a 28% gain over the 180,000 average audience for nine telecasts in 2012; the 2013 WNBA Finals games averaged 344,000 viewers. The 180,000 viewers for 9 games in 2012 was the lowest regular season WNBA ESPN2 ratings, with 2005 having the highest regular season ratings at 282,000. Two 2012 games broadcast on ESPN averaged 359,000 viewers.
In 2013 ESPN said. 66% of the viewers were male and half were African-Americans. Viewership for the 19 games broadcast for the 2014 regular season was an aver
Dana "Pokey" Chatman is the current head coach of the Indiana Fever of the WNBA. She is the former head coach of the LSU Lady Tigers basketball team and the Spartak Moscow women's basketball team. Chatman spent the first 20 years of her adult life at LSU as a player, student assistant, assistant coach and head coach. After succeeding longtime coach Sue Gunter in 2004, Chatman led the Lady Tigers to three consecutive NCAA Final Fours in 2004, 2005, 2006. Chatman resigned from her post at LSU on March 7, 2007 amid allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a former player that were alleged to have begun when Chatman was coaching the player. Chatman was born in Ama, played point guard at Hahnville High School and was a five-time AAU All-American, she is recognized for scoring the first 3 point shot in a high school game for the state of louisiana. The 1991 Kodak All-American point guard played for Gunter from 1987 to 1991, starting all but one game and setting the all-time steals and assists records at LSU.
Her assist record was broken in the 2003–2004 season by Temeka Johnson. Chatman posted a record of 82 -- 38 as a player, she was a three-time All-SEC selection and led the Lady Tigers to their first SEC Tournament title in 1991, where she was the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Source After serving as a student assistant with the Lady Tigers for a season, Chatman was named a full-fledged assistant coach before the 1992–1993 season, she was promoted to associate head coach in 1999. In 2003–2004, Gunter took a medical leave of absence in the middle of the season. Chatman, in her 14th season on the coaching staff, was named interim coach, she led the Tigers to a 15 -- the first Final Four in school history. However, LSU credits the entire season to Gunter. By the end of the season, it was obvious, she announced her retirement on April 27, Chatman was named the fourth head coach in school history. In Chatman's first season as head coach, she led the Lady Tigers to a 33–3 record, an undefeated SEC regular season title, the program's second consecutive Final Four, falling to eventual national champion Baylor in the semifinals.
In the 2005–2006 season, the Lady Tigers finished with a 31–4 record, captured their second consecutive SEC regular season title, reached their third straight Final Four, this time losing to Duke. Chatman's 47–3 record is the second best record through 50 games in women's basketball history. Only Hall of Fame coach Leon Barmore, the former Louisiana Tech head coach, had a better record. Chatman won numerous awards, including the Black Coaches Association's Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2005. In 2005, Chatman served as the assistant coach for the USA Women's World University Games Team, which won the gold medal. Chatman won a medal as a player on the 1990 USA Select Team. Chatman was inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame in 1998. Chatman resigned as the head women's basketball coach at LSU on March 7, 2007 after school officials became aware of an alleged inappropriate sexual relationship between Chatman and a former player. Former LSU assistant coach Carla Berry, a college teammate of Chatman's, reported the alleged relationship to the university in February.
Assistant coach Bob Starkey was named interim coach and led the team during the 2007 NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament, in which the Tigers made their fourth consecutive Final Four. Chatman claimed that after LSU learned about the alleged relationship, it conducted a cursory investigation before giving her an ultimatum—resign within two hours or be fired, she demanded to be paid the remaining $900,000 on her contract. LSU and Chatman settled out of court for $160,000. In August 2007 she signed as assistant coach of the Women's Basketball Club Spartak Moscow Region. Spartak won the next three championships and in 2010, as the head coach, Chatman led the team to a 16–0 Euroleague record and their fourth straight Euroleague Championship. On October 29, 2010, Chatman was named the general manager and head coach of the Chicago Sky of the WNBA, she was let go by the Sky in October 2016. On November 18, 2016, Chatman was announced as the new head coach of the Indiana Fever, she assumed the role.
Chatman was a member of the USA Women's U18 team which won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The event was known as the Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament at the time; the event was held in August 1988, when the USA team defeated the host team Brazil by a score of 70–68 to win the championship. Chatman served as an assistant coach of the USA Women's World University Games Team at the World University Games held in Izmir, Turkey in August 2005; the team won their first game against the Czech Republic 88–64. After defeating South Africa and Poland to move on to the quarterfinals, they beat Taiwan and Russia – each by more than 50 points; this set up the championship game with Serbia & Montenegro which the USA won 79–63 to complete a 7–0 record and win the gold medal. Profile at LSU Athletic
Rebecca Rose Lobo-Rushin is an American television basketball analyst and former women's basketball player in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 to 2003. Lobo, at 6'4", played the center position for much of her career. Lobo played college basketball at the University of Connecticut, where she was a member of the team that won the 1995 national championship, going 35–0 on the season in the process. In April 2017, she was announced as one of the members of the 2017 class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, alongside Tracy McGrady and Muffet McGraw. Lobo was born in Hartford, the youngest daughter of RuthAnn and Dennis Joseph Lobo, her father is of Cuban descent, while her mother was of Irish heritage. Lobo was raised a Catholic, her brother Jason played basketball at Dartmouth College and her sister Rachel played basketball at Salem State College. Both her parents were teachers. Raised in Southwick, Lobo was the state scoring record-holder with 2,740 points in her high school career for Southwick-Tolland Regional High School in Massachusetts.
She held this record for 18 years until it was eclipsed by Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir of the new Leadership Charter School in Springfield on January 26, 2009. More than 100 colleges recruited Lobo, but she chose the University of Connecticut due to proximity and her belief in its academic excellence, she helped lead the Huskies to the 1995 National Championship with an undefeated 35-0 record. In her senior year, Lobo was the unanimous national player of the year, winning the 1995 Naismith College Player of the Year award, the Wade Trophy, the AP Player of the Year award, the USBWA Player of the Year award, the Honda Sports Award for basketball, the WBCA Player of the Year award. Lobo was awarded the prestigious Honda-Broderick Cup for 1994-95, presented to the athlete "most deserving of recognition as the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year", she was a member of the inaugural class of inductees to the University of Connecticut women's basketball "Huskies of Honor" recognition program. Lobo was named the 1995 Sportswoman of the Year by the Women's Sports Foundation.
Lobo was the first player in the Big East Conference to earn first team all American honors for both basketball and academics. Lobo was named to the USA U18 team in 1992; the team competed in Guanajuato, Mexico in August 1992. The team won their first four games lost 80–70 to Brazil, finishing with the silver medal for the event, but qualifying for the 1993 world games. Lobo averaged 6.8 points per game during the event. Lobo continued with the team to the 1993 U19 World Championship; the team won five games and lost two. Lobo recorded six blocks, highest on the team. In 1995 Lobo passed through tryouts to join the national team, which became the US team for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA. Though her minutes on the floor were few, Lobo shared in the gold medal. In 1997, the WNBA was formed and enjoyed its inaugural season, Lobo was assigned to the New York Liberty during the league's first player allocations on January 22, 1997; the first season the Liberty fell to the Houston Comets in the WNBA Finals.
Lobo suffered a setback in 1999, tearing her left anterior cruciate ligament and her meniscus in the first game of the season. In 1999, she was selected to the inaugural WNBA All Star team but could not play because of the injury. In 2002, she was traded to the Houston Comets in exchange for Houston’s second-round selection in the 2002 WNBA Draft; the next season she was traded to the Connecticut Sun, where she retired in 2003. Lobo played two seasons in the National Women's Basketball league with the Springfield Spirit 2002 through 2003. Today, Lobo is a reporter and color analyst for ESPN with a focus on women's college basketball and WNBA games. Lobo was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2010. At the induction ceremony, Lobo was introduced by her college coach, Geno Auriemma who said, in part: No one in all the years that I’ve been there, has had the impact on the court and off the court, that Rebecca has had and has continued both in the WNBA, as being one of the founders, both as a representative of our university, as a member of the board of trustees, continuing to promote the game on ESPN, all the other things that Rebecca has done to further the role model that she is, for all the young people that looked up to her, emulated what she has always been, a great student, a great athlete, a great person, someone that I’ve cherished to have had the opportunity to work with, to call my friend, now to call my boss.
Lobo talked about seeing the exhibit of the All American Red Heads team. She talked about the influence of her grandmothers on her life, her parents, others who helped her with her career, she related an anecdote about her daughter, epitomizing how things have changed for women in the sports world: But two years ago, a year and a half ago, my oldest daughter, 4 ½, my husband was watching UConn men, playing on the television in the living room, my daughter walked in the room and looked at the TV and said to Steve, "Are those boys playing?" And I said, "yes". And my daughter said, "I didn’t know boys played basketball". On April 12, 2003, Rebecca changed her last name from Lobo to Lobo-Rushin after marrying Sports Illustrated writer Steve Rushin at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, they have four children. In Steve Rushin's word
2013 WNBA Finals
The 2013 WNBA Finals was the playoff series for the 2013 season of the Women's National Basketball Association, the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Minnesota Lynx, champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Atlanta Dream, champions of the Eastern Conference; the WNBA Finals were under a 2–2–1 rotation. The Lynx held home-court advantage; the meeting is a rematch of the 2011 WNBA Finals, in which the Lynx defeated the Dream in three games. The Lynx won the first game of the series 84-59, the second 88-63, they finished the sweep with an 86-77 win in Atlanta, becoming the second WNBA team to sweep through the playoffs since the best-of-five finals format was adopted. The Atlanta Dream finished 17-17, good for second place in the Eastern Conference, they defeated the Washington Mystics in three games in the conference semifinals, swept fourth-seeded Indiana, the defending WNBA champions, who had upset the top seed, the Chicago Sky, in the first round. The Dream featured Angel McCoughtry, who won her second consecutive scoring title in 2013, as well as Brazilian center Erika de Souza.
However, the Dream played the Finals without Sancho Lyttle, who had gone down with an injury during the season. The Minnesota Lynx finished with the best record in the WNBA for the third straight year.. The Lynx swept both fourth-seeded Seattle and pre-season favorites Phoenix to win their third consecutive Western Conference crown; the Lynx returned their core nucleus of Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, all of whom played on the Lynx's 2011 championship team. The season series was tied, 1-1: All times are in Eastern Daylight Time; the Minnesota Lynx came out determined not to lose game one at home as they had in the 2012 WNBA Finals. Maya Moore led the Lynx with 23 points, Monica Wright added 20 off the bench as the Lynx cruised past the dream 84-59. Angel McCoughtry led the Dream with 17 points; the Lynx came out on fire in Game 2, opening up an 11-point lead after the first quarter that they would never relinquish. Seimone Augustus led the Lynx in scoring with 20 points, all five starters finished the game in double figures.
Angel McCoughtry was hampered by foul trouble throughout the night, fouled out in the fourth quarter. The Lynx opened up an 8-point lead at the end of the first quarter, but Atlanta battled back several times, cutting the lead to 3 at halftime. However, the balanced attack of Minnesota was too much for the Dream to overcome. Maya Moore of the Lynx was named WNBA Finals MVP
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association. The team was founded; the team is owned by Robert Sarver, who owns the Mercury's NBA counterpart, the Phoenix Suns. The Mercury has qualified for the WNBA Playoffs in eleven of its twenty years in Phoenix; the franchise has been home to many high-quality players such as former UConn sharpshooter Diana Taurasi, explosive Rutgers grad Cappie Pondexter, former Temple power forward Candice Dupree, former Baylor standout center Brittney Griner, Australian guard Penny Taylor. In 1998, 2007, 2009, 2014, the Mercury went to the WNBA Finals. With a cast that included hall-of-famer Nancy Lieberman, possible future hall-of-famers Michele Timms of Australia, Jennifer Gillom, hyper-active star Bridget Pettis, outspoken coach Cheryl Miller, the Mercury established itself as a major franchise. In the first WNBA season, the Mercury posted a 16–12 record and reached the first WNBA playoffs.
The Mercury lost to the New York Liberty, though, in those playoffs. In 1998, the Mercury again qualified for the playoffs; the Mercury defeated the Cleveland Rockers to reach the WNBA Finals for the first time. In a hard fought series, the Mercury fell 2 games to 1 to the defending champion Houston Comets. In 1999, the Mercury missed the playoffs. In 2000, the Mercury got swept by the Los Angeles Sparks; the team descended into turmoil after the season, as coach Miller left and the original core group of players broke up, via retirement or trades, the team stopped being a playoff contender. From 2001–2004, the Mercury were at the bottom of the WNBA. Fielding miserable teams, the Mercury were never competitive; the Mercury went through coach after coach, nothing worked. During the lean years, the franchise remained in the news as forward Lisa Harrison would become a sex symbol. Playboy Magazine offered her money to pose in their magazine, she would decline the offer. After a horrible 2003 season, in which the Mercury posted an 8–26 record, the Mercury won the #1 overall choice in the 2004 WNBA Draft, select coveted former UConn star Diana Taurasi.
Taurasi went on to win the WNBA Rookie of the Year Award in the 2004 season, as the Mercury posted a better 17–17 record. The Mercury posted a 16 -- 18 record in 2005. Former NBA coach Paul Westhead became the Mercury's head coach prior to the 2006 season and brought his up-tempo style to Phoenix. Westhead was the first WNBA coach to have won a previous NBA championship; the Mercury drafted Cappie Pondexter with the #2 overall selection in the 2006 WNBA Draft. The addition provided Taurasi with a solid #2 player. Westhead's run and gun offense became The Mercury's trademark and the franchise would soon set new league records for points scored; the 2006 season was a positive one for the Mercury, as they posted a winning record for the first time since 2000, at 18–16. The Mercury fell just short of a postseason berth; as the 2007 season came, the Mercury were hungry for a deep playoff run. The Mercury would run away with the Western Conference, posting their best record in franchise history at 23–11, as well as clinching the #1 seed.
The Mercury set a record by averaging 89.0 points in a season during 2007. In their first playoffs since 2000, the Mercury made quick work of the Seattle Storm in the first round, blowing them out in two games. In the Western Finals, the Mercury swept the San Antonio Silver Stars in a closer series, advancing to the WNBA Finals for the first time in nine years. In the Finals, the Mercury faced the defending 2006 champions Detroit Shock; the two teams split the first two games in Detroit. Coming back home, the Mercury suffered a letdown in game 3, losing 88–83. Down 2 -- 1, the Mercury had to lose. Game 4 came down to the final seconds, but the Mercury edged out the Shock 77–76, with Cappie Pondexter scoring 26 points, forced a Game 5 in Detroit. In Game 5, Phoenix won by a score of 108–92. Penny Taylor scored a game high 30 points in Game 5, went 18-for-18 from the line; the Mercury won the series and their first championship with a 108–92 Game 5 victory, becoming the first WNBA team to win a championship on the road.
Cappie Pondexter was named the WNBA Finals MVP, averaged 22.0 points and 5.6 assists in the series. On November 7, 2007, The Mercury announced the hiring of Corey Gaines as head coach to replace the departing Paul Westhead. In 2008, the Mercury started and never found a groove, finishing the season with a disappointing record of 16–18, well out of the playoff picture in a tough Western Conference; the Mercury became the first team in WNBA history with the dubious honor of failing to qualify for the playoffs after winning the WNBA Finals the year before. However, a year the Mercury were back to what they were two years before; the Mercury clinched the top spot in the playoffs along with the number one seed in the Western Conference. The Mercury defeated the 2008 conference champion San Antonio Silver Stars in the first round, winning the exciting series 2–1 after losing the first game on the road; the Mercury defeated the Los Angeles Sparks in the conference finals, winning 2–1 in a series that ended Lisa Leslie's career.
The Mercury went on to beat the Indiana Fever 3–2 in the best of 5 series to capture the seco