The W Lists: ’09 Milestones
The five most significant achievements of the 2009 WNBA season.
by Ben York
I’ve written roughly a dozen articles now about the unprecedented 2009 WNBA season and its importance to the success and future of the league. But the reason it became legendary was directly correlated with the lady’s phenomenal play.
Narrowing down the list to just five remarkable achievements was no easy task; there are, literally, hundreds of profound moments that one could choose and make a legitimate case to be included in as ‘significant.’
Thus, I determined that in order to make this list, the achievements had to meet and exceed a couple key guidelines. I used the following thought process to select the achievements that made the final cut.
1. You’ll notice I chose ‘achievements’ instead of a single shot, play, or moment. Rather than look at individual plays for a brief second in time, I focused on the achievements that made the 2009 season so extraordinary.
2. The achievement has to be significant in the truest sense of the word (I.e. Lisa Leslie’s retirement). Had this season not been as unique, perhaps a solitary game-winning shot could have chosen.
3. Every fan of every team could pick a play, shot, or moment and state how important or amazing it was. But while that moment may have been monumental for that player or team, it probably wasn’t a significant achievement that impacted the future of the WNBA (I.e. ‘The Play’ from the Storm/Sparks 1st round playoff series).
As always, please feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments section. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
#5: Star Power
The 2009 WNBA season wouldn’t have been so successful without the incredible level of competition that was featured by every team, every game. Why is this significant? Because the talent pool is only going to continue to grow, and it’s essential to the stability of the league. Aside from the Taurasi’s, the Jackson’s, the Catchings’s, the Hammon’s, the Parker’s etc. the league saw an immediate emergence of talent from a fantastic rookie class (DeWanna Bonner, Angel McCoughtry, etc.). As the league continues to develop and find a niche in American professional sports, the product on the court will need to be consistent and competitive. 2009 showed us that the level of play is only going to get better.
#4: The Creation of WNBA LiveAccess
The WNBA champions, Phoenix Mercury, were on television a grand total of eight times during the regular season. In years past, fans would either have to catch the box score for the remaining games that weren’t televised or see their favorite team live in person. But in 2009 fans were able to watch the other 26 games live, free of charge, via WNBA LiveAccess; a feature that provides fans with live webcasts of games. Sure, the feed might have been lost a few times here and there, but for WNBA fans this was incredibly significant in that, for the first time, they were able to watch every game their favorite team played. In previous years, most teams would be lucky if they were featured on television a handful of times.
#3: Lisa Leslie Retires
Leslie retiring isn’t necessarily itself an achievement per se, but the buzz and energy it created absolutely was. Lisa is an icon, one of the best women ever to play the game. What she did (and will continue to do) for the league has been invaluable. She created an honorable, legitimate and marketable face for the WNBA and actually backed it up with her play on the court. She inspired, and made it desirable, for women to make it to the WNBA instead of just another ‘league’ they play in when they aren’t overseas. More importantly, she set the tone and standard for future generations on how to have a successful and lengthy career in the league.
#2: Mercury Announce LifeLock Partnership
Whatever your opinion is of the multi-million dollar sponsorship of the Phoenix Mercury by LifeLock, there is no denying the implications and relevance it created in American sports. Should sponsor logo’s be on jerseys? Is the sanctity of the game at stake? Everyone has an opinion (if you want mine, I think the partnership is brilliant). But when you get down to the heart of the matter (as I channel my inner Don Henley) the first-of-its-kind partnership will increase and enhance the ability of WNBA teams to thrive and succeed for many years.
#1: WNBA Playoffs/Finals
The. Best. WNBA. Finals. Ever. I’d be remiss not to have this as the most significant achievement in the 2009 WNBA season.
But, if I’m honest, the entire playoff run was absolutely magical. The competition and talent level was the best it’s ever been which culminated in a phenomenal Mercury Game 5 win. Pick your moment – Larry Bird buys out the entire upper deck at Conseco Fieldhouse, the Storm/Sparks series, Game 1 of the WNBA Finals in overtime, the record setting TV ratings, the record setting attendance numbers…all of it created an atmosphere of respect and reverence the likes of which hadn’t been seen.
What do you think? What achievements make your list?