WNBA Finals Game 1: 10 Cool Things
DETROIT, Aug. 30 -- There was plenty of action going on inside the Palace of Auburn Hills Wednesday night and not all of it took place on the court. We wandered the venue and found, well, 10 cool things:
The all-time leading scorer in U.S. women's professional basketball may hold the record for most signatures provided, too. Katie Smith was quite accomodating to the Shock fans before the game, as every time we saw her she was either shooting baskets or signing her John Hancock.
The most clever poster at the Palace was this catchy number. Smith has yet to win a WNBA ring in her illustrious professional career, and it seems like the entire basketball world -- outside the Monarchs fans, at least -- is pulling for her to have one.
The WNBA Championship Trophy is truly a thing of beauty. Designed by Tiffany and Co., it's pure silver... and bling it certainly does.
It doesn't appear that 2005 Finals MVP Yolando Griffith is ready to relinquish the Championship Trophy just yet. Griffith and Detroit's Cheryl Ford posed with it prior to Game 1. Griffith was first to arrive to the photo shoot, and we waited on Ford's arrival alongside her. Boy, was Griffith focused. She had the eye of the tiger. Like a photographer said as Griffith taped up her fingers, "all we need is that trainer from Rocky."
Ticha Penicheiro is undoubtedly one of the best conditioned athletes in all of basketball, period. In person, she's an amazing specimen with a muscular frame, and she obviously doesn't neglect her stretching, either. No wonder despite being only a few weeks shy of 32, she's still able to send fresh-out-of-college rookie point guards back to school.
Meet Frisco Del Rosario of San Mateo, Calif. The Monarchs season-ticket holder presumably was one of only two people in the arena to attend both the NWBL Finals and the WNBA Finals this year.
The Finals, held in Loveland, Colorado also drew Shock center Ruth Riley, a member of the Colorado Chill. Del Rosario, a software quality assurance engineer, wore his purple face paint proudly as he picked Sacramento to win in four.
"They've chosen the right time to peak," Del Rosario said. "They have three our four bodies to throw at Ford, and if two or three are effective, Deanna Nolan is the only problem.
Del Rosario plans to attend the first four games of the Finals. If it goes to a fifth game, a little something called "work" will get in the way. After the way the Monarchs played tonight, scoring a Finals record 95 points, Del Rosario may not have to miss anything.
The Sinclair family was at the Palace two years ago when the Pistons attempted to defend their championship against the Spurs. But an up and down run for the Pistons last season may have prevented them from getting to the Finals a third straight year. No Pistons, no Problem. The Sinclairs decided to come and see the Shock play in the championship series as they look to bring back a title to Motown. The Sinclairs are even thinking about buying season tickets.
"After watching the Pistons sort of lose their team unity, I think the Shock are going to stick together," said wife and mother Beth. "They are very in sync right now and are playing as a team."
Michael Levey, president of Lennox Heating and Cooling, who's company is the Shock Presenting Sponsor for the last two seasons, says that his customers and employees' families love coming to Shock games .
"They're a ball to watch and great with kids," Levey said. "Sitting in the seats here on the baseline, we give a lot of tickets out, and the customers and employees will bring their kids. The players will come over and high-five their sons and daughters. They'll sit next to the kids, chest-bump the kids. Rick Mahorn will come over and tease the kids. It's a great atmosphere. We invite people and they just want to keep coming back, they love the interaction."
"I love the way the girls come out and play every single night," he continued. "They play hard, they're not playing for money, they're playing for pride. Sponsoring the Shock, it's been a dream."
Often times, players have a difficult time giving away their pair of complementary tickets while on the road. Not Monarchs point guard Kristin Haynie. The Michigan native took up an entire section with her hometown supporters. They had to bus them in, all 200 Haynie-iacs, from the city of Mason. And they all got a cool t-shirt.
San Antonio Silver Stars forward Sophia Young, center Chantelle Anderson and Chicago Sky forward Candice Dupree all were in Detroit to attend Game 1 of the Finals. We caught up with them after they arrived in the tunnel.
This could be all yours if you attend a Shock game in one of its "Party Boxes." Now that's living! They really should consider something like that for the media.