The Tulsa Shock will move to Dallas after this season but the news barely made a ripple on the sports pages last week. Yet it was among the oft-discussed topics at the WNBA All-Star weekend in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Shock players, and first-time All-Stars, Riquna Williams and Plenette Pierson when asked told the MSR that they and their teammates had no prior knowledge of the team owners’ decision to relocate.
“It’s not our jobs,” admitted Williams.
“These are decisions that are above our pay grade,” added Pierson. “We worry about the X’s and O’s and the [team’s] energy level, and winning those games. It’s a sad thing because we’ve gained some respect in Tulsa.”
This is the second franchise move for the Shock that left Detroit for Tulsa after the 2011 season. However, the team this time announced its intention at midseason rather than afterwards.
WNBA President Laurel Richie when asked told the MSR that she wasn’t entirely shocked — no pun intended, about the move. “I wouldn’t say it caught me by surprise,” she said. “I believe [Tulsa owner] Bill Cameron did his due diligence and the [league] board approved his request.”
A reporter during her “state of the league” All-Star remarks asked Richie about whether the timing of the relocation decision — especially with the team in the midst of a playoff chase for the first time since the Shock left Motown — could have an adverse effect on the Tulsa fan base. “The last thing we want to do at any point in time for any initiative is be disruptive to players, coaches and our fans,” explained the league president.
“We collectively felt that it was important for the team to hear it very directly from the ownership group. Yes, we considered it and did it, in fact, because we were very conscious of the impact that it would have.
“Bill Cameron came to us and said that through his thinking, discussions, and investigation, he was interested in relocating the team to the Dallas market and his belief is that the potential within the fan base, the potential within the corporate community, offers a great opportunity for the Shock team,” she continued.
“He’s fully committed to making that move and making great things happen in Dallas. But as excited as we are about that move to Dallas, I would be remiss if I didn’t genuinely thank the people of Tulsa who have been supportive of that team in the time that it’s been in Tulsa.”
Pierson, who also played with the team during its Detroit origins, added, “Now we can move to a metroplex and impact some more kids.”
Post All-Star ICYMIs
Built to last — The W will be 20 years old next summer. Richie said she and others are already in preparation mode for the two-decade anniversary. “[What] we are really focusing in on right now is our 20th season that is just around the corner,” said the league president. “We are so excited to think about our 20th season, not so much as a look back at our first 20 years, although we’ll do that and celebrate the heck out of it.
“But what we’re really excited about is the next 20 years and what does that look like for us and what’s developing as a shared vision of 20 years from now,” said Richie.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told the MSR, “I work with Laurel every day, and it remains a top priority for the NBA to ensure that the WNBA continues to be successful,” he pledged.
Good to the end — The remaining regular season some are predicting could be the case of playoff spots not locked up until very late in the campaign. “That’s what you want in the second half of the season,” said Richie. “I’m excited about that.”
Welcome back — It will be Renee Montgomery’s second game in a Lynx uniform when Minnesota hosts Los Angeles July 29. The team acquired her last week when they shipped the injured Monica Wright to Seattle for Montgomery, who’s in her second stint in Minnesota.
“She’s going to come out there and give us some solid energy, competitiveness and she can score the ball,” surmises teammate Maya Moore. “She can make plays so you have to respect her drive or shot. She will be a threat offensively so that will be helpful.”
Bring on the second half — “It’s wide open this year,” said Phoenix Coach Sandy Brondello on the Western Conference.
“We had our adversity and now it’s time to play like we know how to play,” said Los Angeles Sparks’ Jantel Lavender on her team’s current sixth-place position in the West.
“I look forward to turn things around in the second half,” added teammate Nneka Ogwumike.
“We’re just going to stay disciplined in who the Liberty is and just keep competing out there,” predicted New York’s Tina Charles.
Brittney Griner says Phoenix must improve in “getting leads and holding leads. We’ve been starting games pretty good…”
“We got to stop being injured,” notes San Antonio’s Kayla McBride. “We’ve never had a full roster [this season]. We play our best games when we are all together.”
“Every team is hurting and experienced injuries,” added Riquna Williams of Tulsa. “It’s up to the players who are remaining to get it done.”
“We know we have the talent on the roster,” said Atlanta GM Angela Taylor. Her Dream is in sixth place in the Eastern Conference but still in the hunt for a playoff spot. “It is going to be a challenge. But everything out East is very close.”
More All-Star coverage can be found in this week’s “Another View.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.