Phoenix sports fans have not had much to cheer about the last couple of years. After winning four in a row, the Cardinals collapsed and fired all its coaches. Despite pre-season hopes, the DBacks finished with a mediocre 81-81 record. The Phoenix Coyotes have missed all but 48 games due to the lockout. The Suns should never have changed the color of their uniforms. Orange has not been inspiring; they just fired their popular coach. But at the “Apps with Amber” event on January 15 at US Airways Center, there was a lot of excitement about the upcoming season of the Phoenix Mercury.
The Phoenix Mercury is the only Phoenix basketball team, which ever won a national championship…and they have won two. While last year, they stumbled with most of their starting roster out with injuries, their strongest players will be back.
What really had the crowd of Mercury fans excited and confident last Tuesday was the announcement that the Mercury have the number one draft pick. In 2013, they will have their choice of three superior prospects: Elena Belle Donne (two-time All-American), Brittany Griner (2012 AP Player of the Year), and Skylar Diggins (2012 Big East Player of the Year). If Diana Taurasi’s 2004 draft selection could change the destiny of the Mercury, why would not this year’s selection ensure a comeback? There are no potential acquisitions among other Phoenix teams that generate that excitement…or hope.
Despite their success, the Phoenix Mercury are underappreciated. They have a very enthusiastic and loyal following, as shown on Tuesday, but have to fight for attendees. Their schedule overlaps the DBacks, they do not get much media coverage, and many people still remember the slow, low-scoring games of the early days. But the WNBA is 15 years old and the quality of play as dramatically improved.
Amber Cox, the long-time executive, who is now President and COO, outlined some of the many promotions that the Mercury will provide this year, including a flexible ticket plan, one thousand $12 lower level seats, and events with players and coaches. She coyly avoided questions about whom the team was leaning towards for the draft, but invited everyone to attend the draft party on April 15.
The Mercury players are generous members of the community. With their track record of success in a sports town, which has not had much, they merit Phoenicians’ support in 2013.