Thursday, September 18, 2008
We continue with the WNBA's Ten Worst Teams (so far).
5. 1997 Utah Starzz: -1.890. Hey, in the inaugural season of the W, somebody had to be the worst team, and the luck of the draw fell to Utah. Their .374 shooting percentage was only .001 point ahead of the Phoenix Mercury for last place among all teams, and with the league shooting .414 on the average, the Starzz suffered in scoring points.
For the WNBA, 12 years is a long time. None of the players on the old Starzz roster are still playing. Wendy Palmer's last year was 1997 with Seattle. Coach Denise Taylor was fired after her first year when she compiled a 7-21 record. The Starzz are now the San Antonio Silver Stars, a victim of NBA owners washing their hands of WNBA teams. We all love the Silver Stars now, but the Stars/Starzz have the dubious distinction of having three of the worst teams of all time.
The 1997 Starzz finished at the bottom in attendance...and in their latter years, they were always in the fight for the bottom. Being in conservative Utah couldn't have helped.
In 1998, the Starzz would get the first pick of the WNBA Draft. They chose Margo Dydek. It wouldn't help. Let this be a lesson to you. Never listen to Elena Baranova.
4. 2006 Chicago Sky: -1.939. The expansion Chicago Sky set a dubious WNBA record - worst attendance of any team in WNBA history. The Sky averaged 3,390 in 2006 for the year and have never cracked 4,000 in an arena which seats 7,000 in their three-year history.
The Sky won their first game of the year, 83-82 against a team that no longer exists, the Charlotte Sting. Then they dropped their next 13 games before getting another win. Despite picking up Candice Dupree for that first 2006 season, it was a real struggle for Chicago. Their average margin of victory was minus 10.7. The team was at the bottom of the league in field goal shooting (39.4 percent) and free throw shooting (69.8 percent)
At the end of the first season, Dave Cowens fled to the NBA's Detroit Pistons. The team has never won more than 14 games in a season since its inception and has a franchise winning percentage of 30.9 percent (31-69).
Owner Michael Alter gave himself between three to five years to become either a winning team or a profitable team. With three of the five years up, we can only hope that he's making money.
3. 1999 Cleveland Rockers: -1.960. The Wikipedia entry for the Cleveland Rockers describes the 1999 season as "dismal". We can only agree, as the team only averaged 62.9 points a game.
It got so bad that Janice Braxton came out of retirement to suit up because she felt sorry for the Rockers. Then, she re-retired in June of the same year, leaving Cleveland with a weak front court. Isabelle Fijalkowski, their leading scorer and rebounder in 1998, decided not to come back to the W. Eva Nemcova went off to play for the Czechs. Suzie McConnell-Serio only played 18 games with them due to an injury.
The Rockers ended up losing their first seven games of the season until finally beating the Mystics, but wins would be hard to come by in Cleveland. The Rockers were 20-10 in 1998; they ended up 7-25 in 1999.
It got ugly in Cleveland. The highlight of the season was a fight with the (guess who) Detroit Shock that ended with a two game suspension for Tracy Henderson. Just minutes after Cleveland's final game, coach Linda Hill-MacDonald was shown the door. Her assistant, Susan Yow, was booted out with her.
2. 2004 San Antonio Silver Stars: -2.177. At 9-25, the Silver Stars would finish at the bottom of the Western Conference.
On paper, it didn't seem to be a bad team - the Silver Stars just couldn't win any games. They lost eight straight at one point to set a then franchise record. Maybe it was the coaching. They had LaToya Thomas and Marie Ferdinand-Harris. They had Adrienne Goodson.
Brown must have hoped that Shannon Johnson of the Connecticut Sun would be the key to a good season, having given up three draft picks for her in the offeason. However, Brown benched Margo Dydek for most of the season, and then resigned as coach after a 6-18 start, forcing Shell Dailey to take over. (He had to take over the previous year as well, when Candi Harvey was fired.)
After 2004, Jennifer Azzi decided to retire to go into the fitness business. It's hard to blame her.
(* * *)
And now...the Worst WNBA Team of All Time....
1. 2008 Atlanta Dream: -2.424. You had to ask?