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May 4, 2006 at 11:29 AM

Checking the mailbag

Since the Storm was off on Wednesday, let’s scroll through the e-mail inbox to find a good question to answer. Here’s one from John:
“I just found your blog! Thanks for the great insight on how Storm practices are going. I can’t wait for the full season to start, and I hope you’re able to continue blogging. My question is, from what you’ve seen in practices, do you think this team is much better than last season?
— John
Well, John (and everyone else) that’s a tricky question. In a lot of ways the Storm looks like last season because they’re learning some new defensive sets and altering the offense a little, especially because the players can’t repeat last summer’s bad habit of watching Lauren Jackson dominate. There’s a lot of sketchy play that doesn’t say “team returning six top players.” Last summer in training camp the Storm struggled as it adjusted to six new faces, three international players (Aussie Suzy Batkovic didn’t arrive until June).
A lot of the raw play this season simply has to do with Sue Bird not being in camp. Everything should change with her practicing today because, as we all know, you can’t get anything going without a solid point guard. With Bird directing traffic, it will be easier to tell how free agents are developing and what they’ll be able to contribute off the bench.
Not that Tanisha Wright and Shaun Gortman are awful swinging over to the point, but like “T” and Storm coach Anne Donovan said, at the professional level, “you can’t make someone a point guard.” (See Becky Hammon) Wright has talked with media about how much more there is to think about and Gortman admits she’s shy and needs to be more vocal at times.
Players like Betty Lennox, Janell Burse, and Wendy Palmer can work around it because of their talent and basketball knowledge. Others like Barbara Turner and Lindsay Taylor need a good point guard to help make sure they’re in place on offense and can shine at camp.
So, here’s to Bird arriving! May the season begin … .
How ’bout a raise?
Houston forward Tina Thompson is one of seven players from the league’s inaugural season. She was asked by the Houston Chronicle what the next step would be for the WNBA now that it’s the longest-lasting American women’s basketball league — a feat actually accomplished in 2000, but we’ll let the WNBA spin its longevity since 10 seasons is remarkable for American women’s team sports. (FYI, the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL) ran from 1978 to 1981)
“Money. That’s the next step,” Thompson told the Chronicle with a laugh. “I think that just kind of growing as a financial business. Although we’re considered professionals, I don’t think we’re, in my opinion, paid … as such.
“That definitely is a matter of opinion. But I think that as we continue to grow as a league, like the NBA, we’ll continue to grow financially, as well as just continuing to put our product out there.”
My question, for which no one really has an answer: How much is enough? Everyone complains about the NBA players being overpaid, so isn’t it contradictory to want the women to be paid in a similar fashion? Yes, they sacrifice their bodies just as much and the league has tentacles that create jobs, heroines, and entertainment, but before the collective-bargaining agreement expires in 2007, the players need to take a serious look at what they want their future pay to be. Not in 2008, because the league, which should turn a profit in 2007, doesn’t seem ready for that. But by 2010, would everyone cracking six-figures be enough? Or does the WNBA need million-dollar players?
Personally, I think everyone should get paid like Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes were in 1997, making about $250,000 each to be the first faces of the WNBA. If the players can draw the fans, that seems like a respectable amount. Then again, gas could cost that much by 2010.



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