No games in the WNBA today, so we’re on to the sixth edition of Classic WNBA Monday. In case you missed any of the first five:
All Star voting just wrapped up, and we should find out this Wednesday who will be named to the WNBA All Star team to take on Team USA on July 14. In honor of this year’s format, I’m going back to the 2004 version of this event, pitting Team USA against the WNBA All Stars in “The Game at Radio City.”
The New York Liberty played several games at Radio City Music Hall in 2004 while Madison Square Garden was the site of the Republican National Convention. During that stretch, the WNBA scheduled this exhibition send-off between the United States senior women’s basketball team and a select team of WNBA All Stars chosen by media, coaches, and fans.
Here are your teams:
- (PG) Dawn Staley
- (SG) Shannon Johnson
- (SF) Tamika Catchings
- (PF) Tina Thompson
- (C) Lisa Leslie
- Sue Bird
- Diana Taurasi
- Swin Cash
- DeLisha Milton-Jones (Injured)
- Katie Smith (Injured)
- Sheryl Swoopes (Injured)
- Ruth Riley (Replacement for Milton-Jones)
- Yolanda Griffith
- Coach: Van Chancellor
Katie Smith and Sheryl Swoopes do not play in this game but are present as they do go on to Athens with the team.
WNBA All Stars
- (PG) Nikki Teasley
- (SG) Anna DeForge
- (SF) Nykesha Sales
- (PF) Cheryl Ford
- (C) Taj McWilliams-Franklin
- Becky Hammon
- Lindsay Whalen
- Deanna Nolan
- Allison Feaster
- Mwadi Mabika
- Natalie Williams
- Coach: Bill Laimbeer
Mark Jones, Ann Meyers, and Doris Burke are on the call, with Rebecca Lobo reporting from the sidelines (and the depths of Radio City Music Hall, at times). Pam Ward and Nancy Lieberman are “in studio” in one of the upper balconies. The Rockettes make an appearance just before the game and perform at halftime.
Alright, let’s get in to it. Here are my notes:
- An early disclaimer/warning: the video is a little jumpy at times, so if you’re prone to headaches or any other issues trying to focus on that, try to look away frequently, or it may just be best to not watch.
- It’s been a while since I’ve laughed as hard as I did at Lindsay Whalen staring so blankly at the Rockettes introducing the game. This just really got me, for some reason:
- Mark Jones mentions early on that they are using the “international size” basketball in this game, which at that time was slightly larger than the WNBA ball. It’s hard to say for sure, but there are some passes and shots in this game that you wonder if players were having a difficult time with that.
- 20:00 1st, 6:06 video: Team USA wastes no time, taking the tip from Lisa Leslie over to Shannon Johnson, who throws to the sprinting Tamika Catchings, who dumps off to Leslie. BUT it looks like Cheryl Ford gets a great block there.
- Anna DeForge gets the first shot for the WNBA All Stars, and she’s one that a lot of more recent WNBA fans may not know. It’s worth watching her play in the game I talked about last week.
- It’s incredible to think it’s been just about as long since that 1996 gold medal-winning Olympic team as it had been when this 2004 game was played since these two legends (Ann Meyers and Nancy Lieberman) won silver in Montreal in 1976. I hope we get to hear from some former Olympians on July 14.
- 18:11 1st, 9:47 video: Don’t forget to factor in all the places Lisa Leslie could get her shot off in to your “Greatest WNBA Center” debates.
- 16:41 1st, 12:32 video: If they’re just going to let Tina Thompson back out to the left wing and shoot, get her the ball like this. That’s a great pass from Lisa Leslie.
- 16:05 1st, 13:08 video: Nykesha Sales is just always around: picks off the attempted outlet pass and dribbles in to a clean three. Stay tuned for a quick Tina Thompson turn-around jumper that clangs in.
- After the first timeout, you get a first look at Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi playing for Team USA, and there’s some good discussion from Doris Burke and Ann Meyers about their opportunity to learn from Dawn Staley. Pretty incredible that now they’re still playing, this time for head coach Dawn Staley. “There’s no player in the world who understands the game better than Dawn Staley” is the quote Burke attributes to Team USA assistant coach Gail Goestenkors.
- The WNBA All Stars give several different zone looks that the broadcast team helpfully calls out. It’s fun to see how Team USA responds.
- 13:34 1st, 21:25 video: That patented Sue Bird transition pull-up jumper is a good way to beat a zone.
- 13:17 1st, 21:41 video: Speaking of transition, I’m not sure it gets prettier than this. Diana Taurasi rebounds the short jumper, outlets off to Sue Bird at around half-court, who then throws ahead to Swin Cash who is sprinting to the bucket. No dribbles included.
- 9:03 1st, 32:55 video: There’s a lot of talk about Cheryl Ford’s offensive game needing some polish so that she might get a spot on Team USA in 2008, but if you’re short on shot clock and need a quick throw at the backboard that falls in, she nails that here.
- 8:30 1st, 34:33 video: Sue Bird is the only player that dribbles the ball in the half-court here (just a few times, at that). Some great ball movement (7 passes) leads to a good look, but Natalie Williams gets the block. Then Tamika Catchings does what she always did best: gets the ball back.
- 5:56 1st, 41:19 video: Lindsay Whalen takes a charge from Sue Bird in transition. Those two are on a collision course (pun intended) for the WNBA Finals later that year, and many games after that, of course.
- Well that’s quite a coaching staff for Team USA. From left to right: Anne Donovan, Gail Goestenkors, and C. Vivian Stringer.
- 4:30 1st, 46:41 video: Diana Taurasi splitting the defense here in 2004 (against DeForge, her teammate!) is something I feel like I’ve seen a time or two, and I don’t mean just because I keep going back five seconds and rewatching this video.
- 1:46 1st, 51:38 video: You might think this is going to be a Taurasi highlight, but it’s a Yolanda Griffith highlight. The league’s all-time leader in offensive rebounds per game (3.4) and offensive rebound percentage (14.5%) snags the missed shot for the put-back.
- 18:38 2nd, 1:12:47 video: Here’s some really good transition from the WNBA All Stars. I think Cheryl Ford gets the deflection there, but Nykesha Sales picks it up and pushes the ball up in transition. DeForge and Ford run their lanes pretty well here so that DeForge gets the pass from Sales, over to Ford running toward the rim, and she drops it back off to Sales once she gets Lisa Leslie in the air.
- 11:46 2nd, 1:33:08: During the 2nd in-game interview with Bill Laimbeer, coach of the WNBA All Stars, is where he makes some interestingly still relevant remarks about the selections for Team USA when asked about some of his previous comments about a couple of his Detroit Shock players (Cheryl Ford and Ruth Riley) not making Team USA (Riley later named to the team as an injury replacement): “The players who committed themselves, sacrificing money and time in the pool, should’ve been picked first.”
- 9:19 2nd, 1:36:18 video: Similar to Griffith, rebounding and putting the ball back up is what Cheryl Ford does best.
- 7:44 2nd, 1:39:28 video: Lisa Leslie talked about her teammate Mwadi Mabika’s shooting ability this past weekend on the CBS game. Here’s a good getting a good mid-range shot off a Natalie Williams screen.
- 7:23 2nd, 1:39:49 video: Cheryl Ford rim-running is always a good idea when Becky Hammon has the ball in transition.
- 7:01 2nd, 1:40:10 video: Again for Mabika from about the same spot, but this time she’s just standing there open.
- 6:18 2nd, 1:44:37 video: Are you tired of watching Mabika hit this shot? This time it’s off a sideline inbounds play.
- 3:19 2nd, 1:53:32 video: Lindsay Whalen rejects the screen in the most exciting way.
- 37.5 2nd, 1:58:25 video: Watch the WNBA All Stars evade a couple of dangerous defenders all the way to the bucket.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the game, and enjoy your Monday!
P.S. In case you missed them, now’s a good time to catch up on the most recent Friday Firsts: Lisa Leslie scores her 5,000th point.