If the Shoe Fits, Wear It ...
Even if it Doesn’t Match
By Brian Martin, WNBA.com

Phoenix Mercury Coach Paul Westhead's mismatched shoes.
Steven Koek, PhoenixMercury.com
AUBURN HILLS, MICH., Sept. 8, 2007 – In the words of Mars Blackmon … “Money, it’s gotta be the shoes.”

Prior to Game 2 of the 2007 WNBA Finals, Phoenix head coach Paul Westhead was set to address his team before being interrupted by Cappie Pondexter.

“I’m ready to give the speech of my lifetime and Cappie says ‘Coach, what’s up with your shoes?’" Westhead said.

As Westhead looked down at his mismatched shoes, the locker room burst into laughter. The entire team – except for Pondexter – had noticed Westhead's shoe fiasco after Game 1, but never told him about it.

See, Westhead packed only one pair of shoes for the Mercury's trip to Detroit. Actually, he packed two separate shoes, rather than a pair.

“They were two black shoes, but one was like gator leather and the other had a buckle, penny loafer style,” said Diana Taurasi. “You know Coach is a little old so we have to get him up to style. He needs some fashion tips.”

Westhead can hold onto his inspirational speech for another day. He had found the perfect icebreaker by mistake.

“People think we’re all serious and focused," Taurasi said. "We’re so loose that we were talking about his shoes before the game. That's all we talked about: his shoes.”

Taurasi said this was definitely not a strategic move by Westhead as he turned bright red with embarrassment. But he did have a response.

“So I’m saying, ‘I’ll tell you one thing right now, I’m from Philadelphia, I was lucky to even have a pair of shoes,’ " Westhead said. “They were like, ‘That’s right, we’ve got to go out there and play hard. Coach needs shoes. Coach needs shoes.’”

“That was our game plan: to get Coach two matching shoes,” Taurasi said.

The Mercury went on to blow out Detroit, 98-70, in Game 2 to even the best-of-five series at a game apiece. The teams now head to Phoenix for Games 3 and 4, which will give Westhead full access to his closet so he can try to put two matching shoes together.

However, his players plan to take the cause into their own hands.

“We have to go and buy Coach some new shoes now,” Taurasi said. “I need to find out what size he wears. I think he’s a 10.5.”

In case you need it Diana, here is Coach’s request.

“I’m an 11.5 D, expensive Italian,” Westhead said. “Baby needs a new pair of shoes.”