What an unprecedented season for the Washington Mystics and the WNBA. I couldn’t be more proud of our players and coaches who conducted themselves with class and intention. Despite numerous obstacles, Coach Thibault and his staff had the team ready to compete every night. While this wasn’t how we envisioned defending our title, we were grateful for the opportunity to be able to do so. This season gave us the emergence of Myisha Hines-Allen who exemplified what happens when hard work and opportunity meet. Watching Ariel Atkins find her voice and grow as a leader, on and off the court, was inspiring. And in a season dedicated to Breonna Taylor, watching our players call out injustices and use their platform to advance social justice in our country made the entire experience bigger than basketball.
The sacrifice made by our players, coaches and staff to participate in the Wubble is a testament to their pure love of the sport and the fierce competitiveness which drives them. Tianna Hawkins showed off her assisting skills not only on the hardwood, but also with her son, Emanuel, who began virtual kindergarten while in Florida. That’s one First Day of School which he’ll never forget!
And I am so impressed with our WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert’s leadership in creating an opportunity for this season to even happen. Because if she hadn’t, we couldn’t have witnessed the impressive skill of Myisha Hines-Allen, who is #MyMIP – the Most Improved Player in the League, by far! Accelerating from 2.3 PPG to 17 PPG, going from 0 starts to starting in all 22 games, from 2.1 to 8.8 RBG and – a free throw average, up from 58.3% to 80.8%. So incredible to watch a player meet the moment with such determination.
Amidst it all, on August 26, our players created an iconic moment in the wake of Kenosha police officers’ shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back, paralyzing him. Walking into Game Day, they wore shirts of solidarity and turned media attention to calls for these incidents to end – now. Following that game, they intentionally took shot clock violations to give broadcasters an opportunity to discuss voting, voter suppression and the census. They have each embarked on a journey of learning about civic engagement processes and are using their time off the court to insert their messaging into media interviews and in their social media posts.
Coach Thibault really used this season to grow our core players for next year. As he has often said, if our core players grow and learn from this experience and we match that with the players we didn’t have this season, we will be one of the favorites for next year. Building for the long-term has always been the goal for Monumental Basketball and all of the franchises – and I agree it’s the best way we can build strength for generation.