Monday, August 13, 2001

Aye Calypso

People who know me well know that there are two things in life I love: 1) singing John Denver songs at the top of my lungs and 2) women's professional basketball. The former is self-explanatory, the latter is based on my true admiration that the WNBA players sure do got game.

Last Sunday I saw the Lynx in person for the first time this year. The team has struggled all season and this was the first game that their three best players were in uniform at the same time. Though Katie Smith has been rock solid game in, game out, first round pick Svetlana Abrosimova missed the beginning of the year and when she finally returned to the lineup last year's WNBA Rookie of the Year, Betty Lennox, got hurt.

Lennox's return to the team Sunday was brief but effective: she played seven minutes and scored nine points. Her quickness and energy is something the team has missed all along. Abrosimova played perhaps her best game of the season scoring a team high 21 points and grabbing a team record 15 rebounds. Smith added her customary 20 points and the Lynx beat the Sacramento Monarchs 79-76 in overtime.

The Lynx had appeared to win it in regulation after Smith sunk a couple of free throws with 8.3 seconds left. But Monarch's star, Ticha Penicheiro (who truly is a fabulous player with astounding court vision) raced up floor, leapt in the air, double pumped as Smith hit the ball, and somehow managed to sink a shot from near the free throw line.

The cynic might suggest that the only reason I was at the game was to pickup yet another bobblehead doll, a passing porcelain resemblance of Katie Smith. That same cynic charting my dorkiness quotient might also suggest that there is something increasingly disturbing about a 36-year old who has taken to collecting dolls.

I don't really have much of an answer to the cynic other than I worked hard to get my bobbleheads. And I'm certainly glad I got a Katie Smith, because she adds a necessary balance to my testosterone laden collection (and appropriately she is the best bobber in the bunch). When I first heard the Lynx were joining the latest collector's craze I for one applauded them. The deal was sponsored by Rainbow Foods and to get a doll you had a purchase a group of four tickets that included a $5 Rainbow gift certificate along with a voucher for one bobblehead doll.

I went to my surly neighborhood Rainbow and scampered over to the service desk. When I told the young woman I wanted a bobblehead pack she looked at me as if I was speaking Chinese. I tried my best explaining the deal that her company was sponsoring and she looked it up on her Ticketmaster terminal. Nothing came up. She tried for a number of minutes, asking some of her colleagues if they knew what the heck I was talking about. Eventually she looked at me and said, "How do you spell LINKS?" I secured my tickets but not before enduring the wrath of a few elderly women who were delayed in buying their less than five items at the service desk.

Just a couple of observations about attending my second Lynx game: Before buying season tickets for next year (which I'm seriously contemplating) they have to limit the number of children they allow into the one-third full arena. Seems like 80 percent of the crowd was under 12-years old and didn't have a whole lot of interest in the drama of the game (just how do you stop the skillful Abrosimova when she gets the ball on the wing with her ability to drive and her equal ability to spin and hit jumpers?). It didn't seem to matter that on the court were the league's leading scorer (Smith), leading rebounder (Yolanda Griffith) and assist leader (Penicheiro). Instead the kiddies were more interested in waving their pre-made DE-FENSE signs that they had to be told the appropriate moments to wave (and just how many times do non beer drinkers need to go to the bathroom?). Stay at home and play your Nintendos you lil munchkins...

Also can there be consideration in dropping the wannabe Laker girls cheerleading squad? The snug form fitting outfits and jiggling and gyrating to the screeching sound of Britney Spears seemed even more out of place at a women's professional athletic event than it does at the men's games. The league is having a hard enough time being taken legitimately for its skillful play (see the Playboy poll of what player fans most wanted to see nude), thus it doesn't need to refocus the attention away from the remarkable athletes. And for all of us with affection for observing bouncing body parts the day (and cure) may arrive soon when there'll be an equal number of female and male bobbleheads in our collection and the kids will grow up wanting to be the next Svetlana more than they do the next Britney.

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