Sports Odds and Ends
The Detroit Shock (1998-2009)—the forgotten three-time WNBA champions whose run came between the league’s two dynasties, Houston and Minnesota—made history during their dozen-year existence, before being sold and relocated to Tulsa (2010-2015). Since 2016, the team moved again and became the Dallas Wings.
“There’s history there, but not talked about enough,” said Elaine Powell, who the Shock traded for midway through the 2002 season. She played on all three championship teams (2003, 2006, 2008) and for four conference titles (2003, 2006, 2007, 2008).
A fourth-round draft pick by Orlando in 1999, after two previous seasons in the ABL, Powell began her coaching career at Grambling in 2008, where she worked for four seasons. She was then head coach at Langston, as well as assistant coaching stints at Ohio University, Alabama A&M and Georgia Southern. In April, the Lynx hired her as an assistant coach, her first position in the league.
When recently asked to reflect on her place in history, the 2002-2003 WNBA Community Assist Award winner couldn’t help but smile. “For me it was fun,” said Powell.
Her Shock teammates included four future Hall of Famers (Swin Cash, Katie Smith, Lynette Woodard and Nancy Lieberman), two All-Rookie players (Kara Broxton and Shavonte Zellous), and eight All-Stars including Deanna Nolan, better known as Tweety.
Nolan was a 2001 first-round pick by Detroit whose vertical jump was unreal and unstoppable in her time. The 5’10” shooting guard was named to the WNBA 20th Anniversary Team (2016). “It’s not too many females that could bounce and rise like a guy,” Powell said of Nolan’s impact on the game. “She’d bounce-bounce-rise then shoot.”
After the 2002 season, Detroit virtually gutted its roster when the team finished dead last. After that, the Shock dominated the eastern conference. In front of the largest crowd in WNBA history, they knocked off the defending two-time champion Los Angeles Sparks, who were favored to repeat—the first ever “worst to first” historic run to win their first championship.
Two more titles would follow before the franchise was sold and relocated to Tulsa, again dismantling the squad, coaches and front office staff, including then-general manager Cheryl Reeve, who was hired to coach Minnesota.
“I think what made it special was that we got along well, even off the court,” continued Powell, who added that no player saw themselves better than the others, even the stars. “We were all together.”
The Detroit Shock, three times a champion, should be talked about more, said Powell. “You should talk about a team that won even one championship. People that know basketball know about Detroit. The real basketball knowledge people, they know about Detroit.”
K-Mac ready to pitch in
The 2023 WNBA playoffs began this week. After an 0-6 start, Minnesota is in the postseason after a one-year absence.
Guard Kayla McBride is an integral part in the Lynx’s success thus far. Last week, the team announced that the 5’10” ten-year veteran who is in her third season in Minnesota has been signed to a multi-year contract extension.
Last Friday, McBride and Reeve spoke to reporters, including the MSR, via Zoom.
“It feels like home,” noted McBride, who played with San Antonio and Las Vegas before signing as a free agent in 2021. “I know this was a place I wanted to come.”
Asked how she has fit into a community that has been through a lot, Reeve told the MSR, “One of the things K-Mac talked about in our first conversation was about being in the community… being aware of what’s happening in the community. She wants to pitch in wherever she can. [With] her awareness of what’s happening on the national scene and what’s happening here in Minnesota, she’s out and visible and cares about the community.”