Time Out...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 9:21 PM

Ok, I need to take a minute and shift my focus to my hometown team, the Phoenix Mercury. As most of you know, fans of Lauren Jackson have been on pins and needles for the past 4 months, anticipating which team she would choose to play for in 2009. The answer finally came yesterday, when news broke that she decided to re-signed with Seattle (for a mere 1 year deal…but I digress). For me, no surprise. She is the cornerstone of that club, not to mention adored by fans and teammates alike. C’mon, who would leave? Well, its over. She has decided. What’s done is done, right?

Not exactly…

When the news got out, I went to read fan reactions on the likes of message boards, twitter, and facebook. As I sifted through the grateful (and often gushing) Storm fan reactions, I came across many Mercury fan reactions that really surprised me. Yes, there was remorse, anger, and a hint of bitterness. That is to be expected. But, what I did not expect were the fans who had given up on the Mercury, as if without Lauren Jackson, we are nothing. Some of the quotes read “It isn’t looking good…” or “We’re fu***d” I was shocked! (Detroit pun not intended) Is this the loyal voice of the X-factor that I have come to know and love for their undying support of their beloved Mercury? Say it isn’t so!

Can we, just for a minute, put down the hari kari dagger and step away from the ledge, please? Before anyone can throw in the towel on the Mercury, let me remind you where we’ve come from, what we’ve accomplished, and where we can go from here. (And no, I have nothing bad to say about Lauren Jackson. Yes, I was a bit irritated by how long she took, but I’m over it.) By the time we arrived at the 2007 season, no one was giving us a shot. Very few outside the loyal X – factor fans believed the Mercury would end that season with a championship. That season was not only amazing for the Mercury, but we accomplished several things – most notably – sweeping the playoffs and taking the title on the road. Faith of the fans held strong though that entire season; we were unbreakable!

2008 was a transition year, and we didn’t find our groove. Yes, we lost Penny, and Westhead. Yes, we missed the playoffs. But I want to look at the positive things. LaCoe Willingham was a new acquisition who didn’t put in many minutes for her previous team, the Connecticut Sun. Upon her arrival in Phoenix she was quickly in the running for most improved player. Dee and Cappie were also leading the league in scoring, not half bad either. Bottom line; the fans still did not give up.

I want to take you back to the final home game of the season. It was a glorious win of 99-74 over Houston. But more importantly, the playing was absolutely beautiful. No hesitation offense, rock solid defense, and cohesive teamwork. It was reflective of a season of trying to find a groove; that night, they found it.

Now, we stand at the crossroads, looking to 2009 for strength, focus and possibly…redemption. We have several things this season that we were missing last year. For once, a training camp with almost every player in attendance. No, Cappie and Diana will not be stepping off the plane and on to the court. Also, we have a few new acquisitions, in Nicole Ohlde, a 6’5” center, and Temeka Johnson, a sharp shooting guard. Lets not forget our 5th draft pick, DeWanna Bonner. She’s a 6’4” guard, who’s young, fast and without injuries. With our returning players, I believe and Ann Myers-Drysdale and Coach Gaines can put together a team worthy of a championship run. Allow me to reiterate the first part of that statement. I Believe! We need to stop focusing on what could have been, and to what we have; right here, right now. If you are still feeling let down because a certain 6’5” Aussie went back to Seattle, then ask yourself one question –

Are you a Lauren Jackson fan, or a Mercury fan?

I don’t know about you, but I’m a Mercury fan. I believe. I believe in our team, I believe in the fans, and I believe that we can make greatness happen this year.



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