No games in the WNBA today, so we’re on to the fourth edition of Classic WNBA Monday. In case you missed any of the first three:
I’m dipping back just over a month before last week’s game. There have been reports that we’ll be getting official details on this year’s All Star Game, so to help manifest that coming to fruition I thought I’d take a look at an early All Star Game, this time the 2003 contest between the East and the West. (Note: Unfortunately, the video cuts off with about 33 seconds remaining on the game clock, but you still get to check out the rest of the game. The West wins 84-75, and Nikki Teasley is named All Star MVP.)
A few broad notes:
- This was the 5th WNBA All Star Game, and the Western Conference came in undefeated (4-0). Since this of course precedes the Detroit Shock winning the title that year, all six WNBA championships had only been won by Western Conference teams at that point (four by the Houston Comets and two by the Los Angeles Sparks).
- Lisa Leslie was All Star MVP in three of the first four games, and she was well on her way to a fourth in the first half. She had 11 points in just over four minutes to start the game, and she had 17 in the first half. Unfortunately, she went down with a right injury in the 2nd half. In fact, I found it tough to watch, so keep in mind the injury happens at about 14:35 on the game clock in the 2nd half; I’d suggest skipping over about 1:20:50 - 1:24:12 in the video time.
- The halftime report features Pam Ward, Nancy Lieberman, and then-Detroit Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer in the arena, a format I love. Lieberman had coached the Shock just a few years earlier, and she famously played for Laimbeer and the Shock under tough circumstances in 2008.
- These classic game videos that include the commercial breaks are always fun nostalgic trips. You get the infamous “This is who I am” WNBA ad featuring the likes of Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Lisa Leslie, and Ticha Penicheiro at about 1:16:29 video time, and at least a few times the famous Sue Bird American Express commercial is played.
- The East still can’t quite close out an All Star Game, but Tamika Catchings in her second year is the star of this game for the Eastern Conference, and Tari Phillips is just notably solid.
- Nikki Teasley is great in the first half but especially comes to life in the second half after Leslie goes down. She went on to win All Star MVP, a great achievement in her incredible story.
Some of my favorite moments (game clock, video time):
- (14:59 1st, 13:04): Is it strange that I both agree that Sue Bird should get the points off this shot but think she should also get an assist on it?
- (13:35 1st, 15:05): You get the sense early that Teasley – as Mark Jones and Ann Meyers talk about at some point in the game – is ready to show some flash. The game is mostly just competitive, with perhaps some lighter-than-normal defense, but Teasley throws in the types of tricks we expect in All Star Games now.
- (9:40 1st, 25:19): You’ve probably seen this Teasley pass in a compilation somewhere, but this was my first “ooooh” moment, despite Adrian Williams unfortunately missing the layup…
- (4:05 1st, 39:06): …and here’s the second. This is another moment I know has been included in some WNBA ads and compilations, the Sue-Bird-between-the-legs-to-the-trailing-Lauren-Jackson pass.
- (8:55 2nd, 1:37:21): Tired of Teasley yet? She’s clearly having fun with her handles here, then to the behind-the-back to Yolanda Griffith, who rim runs as well as anybody, and Yo finishes the tough shot and gets the and-one. Of course, she’s used to being ready for a creative pass, playing in Sacramento with Ticha Penicheiro.
- (3:40 2nd, 1:52:06): This is just a great demonstration of what Deanna “Tweety” Nolan could do: snags the rebound, handles the ball up the floor in transition, and pulls up – way up in the air – for a three. The shot misses, but it’s so fun to watch. In fact, I have often said over the past few years that a lot of times when I watch Courtney Williams play she reminds me of Tweety, and this particular three as well as another one in the halfcourt not long after reminded me of Williams’ recent game-winner over New York. The stakes are obviously different, and Nolan couldn’t connect on either, but just the way they can get off the floor and threaten with their jumper is incredible.
- (1:06 2nd, 1:57:06) To cap it off, Tweety’s bread-and-butter: taking the outlet from Dawn Staley off the Natalie Williams rebound, a couple of dribbles to the lane for a tough pull-up that she nails with the and-one. So fun.
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 a couple of recent posts: