A Man's Guide to the Phoenix Mercury

At least somebody in Phoenix has won a championship.

 I don't care about the Phoenix Mercury. Watching women's sports isn't appealing to me. It doesn't sound exciting. I'd rather watch "Anchorman," again. I know nothing about the players. They couldn't be as athletic as the men playing in the NBA. I have never watched an WNBA game. Not on TV or in person. Please God let the NBA season begin, that will mean that the WNBA season is over.

That was me a few weeks ago. I was ignorant and closed minded. "What, you have Phoenix Mercury tickets for free? Uh, well, yeah I got this thing. Thanks anyway." No longer. Saturday night I was lucky enough to sit front row at the Phoenix Mercury v. Indiana Fever game.  What I witnessed was something that I can only call, well, pretty damn exciting. I think I may have become a real fan.

Now, I realize there are many of you out there that are going to think that I have nothing else to write about and maybe I was "encouraged" to write a Pro-Mercury/WNBA piece. Not so. I am doing this on my own volition. Some of you may think I'm just being a guy and this is a testosterone filled blog dedicated to Penny Taylor, because I think she looks fine. No, not at all. I mean I do think she is pretty and all, but I'm not writing just because I have a crush on her.

I am writing because I had very negative misconceptions and horrific judgments about the Phoenix Mercury and the WNBA.  They are no more. On the contrary, I have a newfound respect for our Merc. Here, I will address them:

 

  • "Watching women play is boring."

I thought that watching a Mercury game would be like watching an 8 year old YMCA team. Slow and sloppy.

Wrong.

The Mercury play fast. They run and gun just like our beloved Suns, and of course, play defense in a similar manner. Cappie Pondexter has a motor that never stops. Her court vision is top notch. Temeka Johnson has a cross over that would bust my ankles easily. She is fearless driving to the hoop. Reminds me of Leandro finishing a break.

  • "Women's Basketball Skill Cannot Match Men's."

This of course, is ridiculous to assume, and purely sexist. Women can have the same skills as men at basketball. One of the most impressive players on the court Saturday night was Katie Douglas of the Fever. She reminded me of a female version of Dirk Nowitzki. She was simply unstoppable. Yes she took a lot of shots, and while her field goal percentage on the night wasn't that great, (30%), she was 6 for 11 from behind the arc and led the way with 29 points. She ran the floor, she set her teammates up, and if she had an inch to shoot, she'd pull the trigger. It seemed as if every time the Mercury made a run to trim the lead it was Douglas who would drop a timely 3 to stop the run.  She was a competitor on the floor and more than once barked at her teammates to get moving, and even smacked the scorers table, which I must admit, kind of frightened me.

Diana Taurasi was probably the only name on the Merc that I recognized going into the game. She did not dominate  by any means, but she reminded me a lot of Steve Nash, she was smart, she always knew what she was supposed to do, and her shot was solid. She seemed to be in on every play scrapping for loose balls and setting up her teammates.

"The "Crowd" is dead."

Sometimes attending a sporting event isn't so much about the actual play on the field as it is the ambience. I once saw a baseball game at Wrigley Field. I cared little about the Cubs or the Pirates, both sucked that year, but being at the game with the Chicago crowd screaming their lungs out over a ground ball base hit or strike out made everything worth while. It goes the same with a Phoenix Mercury game. I listened to a discussion before the game about how the average attendance at an WNBA game could be anywhere from several hundred to 7,000 people. One writer even stated that he felt the numbers were being exaggerated throughout the league. But on Saturday night, the announced attendance was 9,867, which I tend to believe. When the Mercury running and gunning, it seemed like there were 15,000. The Mercury fans were hardcore, raucous, and dedicated. They were all over the referrees, they were all over the Fever. And if you are a "people watcher," you need to come and see a game. This is the Phoenix you rarely see. Trust me.


"I can't relate to female players."

  • You want to have a beer with Diana Taurasi and hang out. It may be in bad taste to say so due to her recent off the court troubles, so let's say, it would be fun to have a drink and then get a cab home, how about that? She was hard nose on the court and chill in the locker room. She's your buddy, that cool chick you can say almost anything to and just watch TV or something.
  • Penny Taylor is fun to watch for more reasons than one. Phoenix Stan may disagree with me, but I think she looks good, I really do. And, she can play. It was clear she isn't in the best game shape, but she was a heady player with excellent skills, and long, blond hair.
  • The Suns need a Tangela Smith. She finished, she blocked shots, she ran the floor, she grabbed some rebounds. She knew what she was doing out there, and she was tall, 6 foot 3 tall.
  • Cappie Poindexter was not on her game, and she admitted it afterward. I don't care. It's clear that she can play and it's clear that the game of basketball isn't just a game for her, it is her heart and soul. She was instrumental in the Mercury come back from a 15 point deficit and had some timely steals.

"What do I care if they win?"

Did you know the Mercury have the best record in the Western Conference? If you haven't jumped on the bandwagon, I recommend you try it and see if you like it. This team is athletic, they run, they score.  The Merc has serious talent and dedicated players who want to win. They will go deep into the playoffs this year. I highly recommend going to a game, it's much better than doing yard work, trying to predict the next Suns transaction, or watching Anchorman for the 23rd time. 

 

[Note by Mike Lisboa, 08/11/09 2:11 PM PDT ]

In a remarkable coincidence, the very day Wil published this story I received the following e-mail in response to my invitation to some friends to attend the Phoenix Mercury-LA Sparks game here in LA on August 27.  Wil asked me to include it as Exhibit B in most men's reactions to the WNBA....

Sorry, I'm busy doing just about anything else I could possibly think of. Ever.

Can you hear me laughing on the outside? 'Cause it's pretty loud.

I would, but I have something else going on that night. It's called dignity.

Nice to see you're back on the weed.

I'd rather take a helicopter tour of New York City.

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