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By G. Montgomery
BVN Staff

In 1969, when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon, he said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. WNBA commissioner Val Ackerman could borrow those words to assess the 2003 WNBA Finals.

The Detroit Shock staved off two elimination games to defeat the two-time defending champions, the Los Angeles Sparks and claim the first true Eastern conference championship.

Game 3 drew 22,076 raucous fans to the Palace in Auburn Hills, many to their first ever WNBA contest. The largest attendance ever for a WNBA game. The possibility of a championship coming to the Motor City pushed them past any inhibitions previously harbored toward women’s basketball.

The game was also telecast live on ESPN 2 achieving 0.8 viewer rating, also a new high for the seven year old league.

All of these milestones coming only one day after the fledgling women professional soccer league (WUSA)called it quits.

Why are these two women’s team sports going in such different directions. Simple, the WNBA has patiently developed a great product. Women’s basketball is truly a professional sport, showcasing some of the world’s best lady hoopsters.

Many believe that men (the majority sports audience) won’t watch women’s basketball. I challenge that assumption. I believe that men will watch and enjoy WNBA basketball once they become aware of the quality of today’s game.

The 2003 WNBA is a giant leap from the inaugural effort launched back in 1997.

The Sparks starting line-up is considered to be the best staring five in the league. Every player is currently or has been an allstar.

The very young and talented Detroit Shock have two of the best young players in the league in Swin Cash and Cheryl Ford, the daughter of Karl Malone.

The Sparks won’t take this lightly, you can expect lots of off-season activity to restock the Sparks depleted bench. Also, there’s a plethora of talent in the 2004 draft. You can bet, they want nothing less than their title back.

Reach G. Montgomery at gmontgomery@att.net

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