Two fans invited to take part in the ceremony

Shock Get Rings

The Shock tipped off their home opener at 7:30 p.m. Monday, but many fans filed into The Palace well before that for the pregame entertainment, as the team raised its third WNBA championship banner to The Palace rafters.

Shock radio announcer Matt Shepard emceed the brief ceremony, which included opening remarks from WNBA president Donna Orender and a tribute to the late Shock and Pistons owner Bill Davidson, whose wife Karen was in attendance.

Head coach and general manager Bill Laimbeer and 2008 Finals MVP Katie Smith addressed the fans, thanking them for their support. Laimbeer closed by saying, “We’ll see you in the Finals maybe later on this year,” drawing a raucous ovation.

Despite injuries that precluded them from playing in the game, Cheryl Ford and Plenette Pierson walked across the court to receive their new jewelry, as did the suspended Kara Braxton, who received a gracious reprieve from the league office and was allowed to attend the ceremony. The crowd also welcomed former Shock center Kelly Schumacher.

The roar of Thunderstix never ceased as the players were introduced one by one to receive their rings and then gathered to unveil the championship banner signifying their sweep of San Antonio Silver Stars in the 2008 Finals.

Lost in the crowd – not to mention the cacophony of crowd cheers and Queen’s “We Are The Champions” blaring from the loudspeakers - were Gary Galunas of Troy, Mich., and Kaye Kolbe of Green Bay, Wisc., who each won contests for the opportunity to participate in the ceremony.

“I never win anything!” said Galunas, who has had Shock season tickets since the inaugural 1998 season. “It was really nice, especially [with] how much I follow the team. It really meant a lot.” While on the floor, Galunas touched the banner and met several players and coaches, even wishing the ailing Pierson “a quick healing.”

“We are very, very fortunate in Detroit here to have such a great coach and general manager, such great players,” he said. “There are so many cities in the WNBA that would just love to have what we have.”