You know it’s a good year for sports when two arrogant professional basketball teams from L.A. fail to win championships. So I’m pretty happy that the Detroit Shock beat the Los Angeles Sparks, 83-78, to win the WNBA Championship.


Although I’d be happy with the Sparks losing against anyone, the Shock were a surprisingly easy team to root for. I say “surprisingly,” because there are a number of reasons why I shouldn’t like this team. First and foremost, Bill Laimbeer, late of the dreaded Detroit Pistons’ “Bad Boys” of the late ’80s and early ’90s, is their head coach. In addition, rookie Cheryl Ford is the daughter of Karl Malone, who in addition to being one of the highest-scoring players in NBA history, is also in a tight race with Vlade Divac for the title of Cheapest Flopper Ever.

I found myself liking the Shock against my will, however. Laimbeer has been a good coach all year and has been very supportive of his players (it helps that he’s not on the floor to take cheap shots at the other team, too). Ford has shown all of her father’s talent, and little of his attitude. Detroit’s style of play on defense is to work hard for rebounds, which I approve of; it’s style on offense is to run, run, and run, which I approve of even more. And players like Swin Cash, Ruth Riley, and Deanna “Tweety” Nolan show that sports cliche words like “gritty” and “determined” are occasionally the right words to use for a team.

The final game itself could be described as “gritty,” too. Both teams bodied up very hard, and everyone who was on the floor is going to have some bruises in the morning. At this point, the level of play in the WNBA is just about as high as it is in the NBA in terms of skill and physicality, even if there still isn’t any dunking. Watching the Shock and Sparks play a good close game is a heck of a lot better than watching, say, the Heat and Hawks play, or even some of the games in the brickfest that was this year’s NBA finals. 22,076 people apparently agreed with me, since that was the announced attendance at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

And now there’s only a month or so before the NBA season begins. It’s a good life when you can see quality professional basketball being played year-round, isn’t it?