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July 28, 2008 at 8:28 PM

Positive to WNBA melee

Not many liked the length of suspensions and maybe others didn’t like the fact that the Detroit-Los Angeles fight last Tuesday happened at all. But after about 300,000 views on YouTube.com, you’ve gotta admit there were some humorous moments in the peusdo brawl.
And those moments drew Team USA closer more quickly than expected.
“We talked about it even before we got on the bus,” said Storm guard Sue Bird. Three Sparks players – Lisa Leslie, DeLisha Milton-Jones, and Candace Parker – were suspended one game for throwing punches in the melee and are part of Team USA. Detroit guard Katie Smith stayed out of the fray, but was on the court at the time.
“We joked about the fight, moreso making fun of them,” Bird continued. “How Katie was the peacemaker, and somebody said when Lisa fell, it looked like she was a calf coming out of its womb. And how basically [assistant coach] Rick [Mahorn] was like, ‘Did somebody hit me?’ after DeLisha [threw her punch in his back]. It was lighthearted and funny. I mean, it’s a serious matter, but those type of moments generate the most conversation.”
Smith, the only representative from her team, took it all in stride.
“L.A. was telling their side of the story and I tried to keep shut,” Smith said. “I’ve got my opinions about it, but I’ll keep those to myself. I was proud of my teammates, though, because we didn’t come in swinging. We came in taking our people away. I was proud of our group for making sure nothing else happened and no one else got involved.
“No one wants to lose their money and no one wants to get suspended, so there was no need for me to go in there and start doing anything. I was just trying to keep people back for the most part.”
There’s no bad blood about the fight. Bird described the ride to practice as everything falling into place as if no one ever left each other. All of the players have pretty much played together at one point or another, aside from Leslie and Phoenix guard Cappie Pondexter, a first-time Olympian.
“We all like each other,” Taurasi said. “It’s one thing to go on a team where everybody hates each other and you go, ‘I gotta go with these people.’ But we all like each other. We’ve played with and against each other for the last 8 or 10 years, so we’re very familiar with each other, which is a nice feeling.”

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