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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

6 Reasons To Support The Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Finals (OR 6 Reasons to Stop Crapping on Women's Basketball)

After delivering a sound beating to gifted scorer Cappie Pondexter and the New York Liberty, the Atlanta Dream will go on to face the Seattle Storm in the WNBA Finals. Here are 6 reasons why you should support the Atlanta Dream!

1) The city of Atlanta needs a championship!

Remember when the Braves won the World Series in 1995? I was in 6th grade with my first two facial hairs, and had recently gone stark raving girl crazy. Just as a full beard began to grow in over the years, so did the constant disappointment, with Atlanta unable to shave the label (or lack thereof) of not being a “real” sports town. The false saviors have come, and they’ve departed just as quickly, many with their tails tucked and without the courtesy of choice. Jamal Andersen AKA Mr. Dirty Bird himself gave the Falcons hope with a Super Bowl XXXIII visit in 1999, but was unable to seal the deal, and was eventually forced into early retirement by a torn ACL. It’s a good thing that cocaine arrest happened after his playing days were over.

The Falcons were already headed for their fair share of bad press when Michael Vick went from taking snaps from Atlanta Falcons centers to taking snaps from one of the guys on D-Block.  Although he's been released and is back in the NFL's good graces, I always think of that movie “The Longest Yard” when I think of Vick these days. The Hawks, guided by the talented trio of Joe Johnson, Al Horford, and Josh Smith have become a staple playoff team, but have yet to advance past the 2nd round. Atlanta needs this!

2) Angel McCoughtry is the TRUTH!

McCoughtry is truly as gifted a scorer and defender as you’ll see in any basketball league, and she’s certainly worth the price of admission. A product of the Louisville Cardinals, McCoughtry was selected by the Atlanta Dream as the No. 1 pick in the 2009 WNBA draft. Since her selection, she’s racked up quite a few notable honors:
-Named Rookie of the Year in 2009.
-Received All-Defensive Team honors (finished 2nd in voting) in 2010
-Finished 6th in MVP voting for the 2010 season
-Set the WNBA playoff record for points in a game last night by scoring 42 against the New York Liberty to lead the Dream to the WNBA Finals. That’s 42 points in a 40 minute game!!! That’s with no overtime, and no 48 minute clock like the NBA.
-Boasts a gold medal from the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil.

3) The first time Lauren Jackson of the Seattle Storm won MVP, she got naked.

Good news fellas, Lauren Jackson has been crowned the 2010 WNBA MVP. Why should you care? Well, after being awarded the MVP trophy in 2003, the native Australian bared every inch of her well-tailored birthday suit by posing nude for a magazine called Black+White. I’m a man who believes that history repeats itself.  Need I say more?

4) Heart of an NBA player, Salary of a Fan

The salary of the NBA and WNBA are actually a percentage of the respective league's revenue from the previous season. So while the minimum NBA salary is somewhere around $500,000, the minimum WNBA salary is around $35,000. The players do however receive bonuses depending on how far they advance in the playoffs. Champions, of course get the most. Don’t you want to help our underpaid ladies get a check?

5) From Worst to First

In 2008, the Atlanta Dream were the New Jersey Nets of the WNBA, losing 30 out of 34 games and finishing with the worst record in WNBA history. Now although the Nets were able to sidestep the “worst record ever” footnote in NBA record books during their 2010 campaign, the appalling and luckless seasons of the two fledgling franchises (sorry Jay-Z and wealthy Russian guy) crave comparison. Fast forward to 2010, and the Atlanta Dream has held onto 1st place in the Eastern Conference for much of the season. Now granted, they slipped into despair (4th place) after stumbling through the final stretch of the regular season, but they have yet to be beaten since entering the playoffs.

6) Don’t Be a Sexist Douche

Attending a WNBA game comes to mind, and we can instantly think of a million things we’d rather be doing than watching women play basketball (break-dancing on hot coals, playing leap frog with a unicorn, etc.). We’re all guilty of it, especially me in the not-so-distant past. Still, it was shocking that I had an extra ticket to the Atlanta Dream VS New York Liberty Eastern Conference Finals game last night, and could not give it away! I called 20 people who I knew loved basketball, and every single one was supposedly preoccupied. Now I understand the hesitation if you think of the WNBA of old. I remember the first days of the league in 1997. The play was boring, simple, and plain. Pass… pass… pass… shoot. Oh how I longed for a crossover, a dunk with one player’s genitalia (we’d need to phrase it differently for women players) in another player’s face. The showmanship is what was missing, and as we chiseled that judgment into the stone of our memories and changed the channel, we never changed back to see that this league has evolved into something worth following, even if simply to be abused by basketball-only sports fans as a brief reprieve from the brain-racking torture that is the NBA offseason.

The Atlanta Dream is averaging 98 PPG in the playoffs. Angel McCoughtry is averaging over 21 PPG for the season, and she’s only the 6th best player in the league according to MVP voting (top 3 if we're talking about clutch performers). You may not think of these types of numbers when you think of a WNBA game, but the days of 60 point games are long gone. So tune in for Game 1 of the WNBA Finals (Sunday at 3pm ET on ABC), and cheer for the first professional sports team in Atlanta that could win the first championship in a while (or for a while). You never know, you just might like it.