Washington Mystics

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Washington Mystics
2013 Washington Mystics season
Washington Mystics logo
Conference Eastern
Founded 1998
History Washington Mystics
Arena Verizon Center
City Washington, D.C.
Sponsor Inova Health System
Team colors Red, Blue, Gray, White
Owner(s) Ted Leonsis
General manager Mike Thibault
Head coach Mike Thibault
Assistant coaches Marianne Stanley
Eric Thibault
Championships None
Conference titles None
Mascot Pax
Official website

The Washington Mystics are a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). The team was founded prior to the 1998 season. The team is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment (led by Ted Leonsis), who also owns the Mystics' NBA counterpart, the Washington Wizards. Sheila C. Johnson, co-founder of BET and ex-wife of Charlotte Sting owner Robert L. Johnson, is the managing partner.[1]

While the Mystics have qualified for the WNBA Playoffs in only six of its thirteen years in Washington, the franchise has been home to some high-quality players such as Tennessee standout Chamique Holdsclaw, athletic shooting guard Alana Beard, and nearby Maryland product Crystal Langhorne. The Mystics are one of two current WNBA franchises that have not made it to the WNBA Finals, along with the Chicago Sky. They have been to the Conference Finals once, losing to New York in 2002.

Franchise history[edit]

One of the first, one of the worst (1998–2004)[edit]

Logo from 1998-2010

The Washington Mystics were one of the first WNBA expansion franchises to be established. In 1998, their first season, they finished with a WNBA worst 3-27 record, despite being led by Olympian Nikki McCray. Although they did not make the playoffs that year, the team had high expectations after drafting University of Tennessee star Chamique Holdsclaw in 1999. Washington improved, but again failed to make the playoffs as they finished with a 12-20 record. Holdsclaw would lead the team to the playoffs in 2000, making the playoffs with a record of 14-18, losing to the New York Liberty in a first round sweep.

After being tied for the worst record in the WNBA in 2001 with a 10-22 record, coach Tom Maher and General Manager Melissa McFerrin both resigned. With the future of the franchise up in the air, Mystics assistant coach Marianne Stanley took over as head coach. With the duo of Holdsclaw and rookie guard Stacey Dales-Schuman, the Mystics made the playoffs in 2002 with a 17-15 record. They would sweep the Charlotte Sting in the first round, but lose to New York again in the Eastern Conference Finals 2 games to 1. In 2003, the Mystics would make a franchise second worst record in franchise history with a 9-25 record, last in the Eastern Conference.

Rumors of Holdsclaw being unhappy playing in Washington came to a head in 2004 when the Mystics star was sidelined with an unspecified ailment, later revealed to be a bout with depression. With their all-star out, rookie and Duke University standout Alana Beard led a depleted Mystics team to a surprising playoff appearance, the third in Mystics history. They finished the 2004 season at 17-17, but lost in the first round to the Connecticut Sun in 3 games.

Changes in the organization (2005–2007)[edit]

The 2005 season saw deep changes in the Mystics organization. Former star Holdsclaw joined the Los Angeles Sparks and the team was sold by Washington Sports and Entertainment to Lincoln Holdings LLC, led by Ted Leonsis.[2] In 2005, the team finished the regular season with a record of 16-18 and failed to make the playoffs.

In 2006, the Mystics posted a 18-16 record thriving under star guard Alana Beard who was drafted in 2004. The Mystics entered the playoffs as the 4th seed. In the first round, Washington was ultimately swept by the Connecticut Sun, the first-seeded team in the East.

The Mystics finished with a 16-18 record in 2007. In a more competitive conference, the team was satisfied by its near-.500 finish. However, at the end of the season, the Mystics had an identical record as the New York Liberty. Since the Liberty won the regular season series against the Mystics, Washington lost the tiebreaker and was eliminated from playoff contention.

At the Bottom Yet Again (2008)[edit]

Crystal Langhorne

In 2008, the Mystics looked to build on their near-playoff appearance in a tough Eastern conference. They drafted Crystal Langhorne of Maryland with the 6th pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft. Plagues again by coaches problems, the Mystics fell to the bottom of the East again, finishing only in front of the expansion Atlanta team. The Mystics had gone through 10 coaches in 11 years of existence, the most in the WNBA. The Washington front office knew it needed to completely clean out the

Changes, Part Two (2009-2012)[edit]

During the 2008/2009 WNBA offseason, the Mystics released general manager Linda Hargrove (replaced by Angela Taylor) and interim coach Jessie Kenlaw (replaced by Julie Plank). Under the new general manager, underperforming players were waived as new players were signed. With the second pick in the Houston dispersal draft and the 2009 WNBA Draft, the Mystics selected Matee Ajavon and Marissa Coleman, respectively. The Mystics hoped to take advantage of the team changes and finally find consistency in their play.

By the time the season began, the Mystics surprisingly started 3-0. They went 13-18 since the first three games, but their 16-18 record was good enough to reach the playoffs. However, in their playoff comeback, the eventual conference champion Indiana Fever were too much for Washington to handle and the Mystics were swept in the first round.

The Mystics had their best season ever in 2010. Led by Lindsey Harding, Katie Smith, and Crystal Langhorne, the Mystics took first place in the East with a record of 22-12. However, despite holding a 3-1 edge in regular season games, they were swept in the first round, including a 24 point blowout in the elimination game, by the eventual WNBA Finals runner-up, the Atlanta Dream.

Prior to the 2011 season, the Mystics made many controversial changes. Coming off their best season in franchise history, many had hoped the team would finally see some consistency; this was not the case. General manager Angela Taylor could not reach an agreement on a new contract and after head coach Julie Plank refused a request to handle both coach and GM duties which was reported as a cost cutting measure, Mystics assistant coach Trudi Lacey was named to both positions.[3] When asked if the departure of Plank and Taylor was one of the mistakes she said she had learned from at the 2012 WNBA draft lottery, Mystics owner Sheila Johnson said she couldn't discuss that matter, citing ongoing "human resource issues".[4] After the coach/GM change Harding and Smith both demanded trades to specific teams which were granted (to Atlanta and Seattle, respectively).[5][6][7][8] In addition, starting small forward Monique Currie tore her ACL while playing in Europe in January and was lost for most of the WNBA season.[9] As a result of this off-season turmoil, the Mystics record in 2011 fell to 6-28 from 22-12 the year before.

After an even worse season in 2012 (5-29), Trudi Lacey was fired as the Mystics coach and GM.[10] Although having the best odds of the four teams involved in the lottery held on 9/26/2012 for the 2013 WNBA draft, the Mystics ended up with the 4th pick, which means they will likely miss out on drafting one of the three highly touted players that will be available in the 2013 WNBA Draft: Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins.[11]


  • 1998–2010: white with black and gold outlines at home, dark blue with black and gold outlines on the road.
  • 2011–present: white with red and blue outlines at home, red with white and blue outlines on the road. Both jerseys display the Inova Health System name on the front.[12]

"Attendance Champions"[edit]

The Washington Mystics led the WNBA in home attendance from 1998 through 2000 and from 2002 through 2004. To celebrate the fans turning out for games, they have hung six banners from the Verizon Center rafters celebrating each year the Mystics were "Attendance Champions."

Verizon Center, home of the Mystics

The banners have been the focal point of much criticism over the years. With many people believing that the rafters are reserved for achievements in sports and not by the fans and thinking it is insulting to have banners for championships (such as the '84 Georgetown Hoyas and the '78 Washington Bullets) and retired numbers (for the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals) hang next to "attendance champion" banners.

Members of the press have addressed this controversy many times. Washington City Paper has called them "embarrassing",[13] a 2005 ESPN.com article by Todd Wright had Wright commenting " it's time to lose those Mystics attendance banners hanging from the rafters",[14] the Sports Road Trip website mocked the banners by stating "Oh... Mystics... WNBA "attendance champions" in '98 and '99. "Wheeeeeeee!".[15] When Washington Post writer Jon Gallo was asked about the banners, he stated "The attendance banners were largely achieved because the Mystics gave away approximately 30 percent of their tickets before Sheila Johnson took over the team. If the Mystics had made everyone pay for a ticket, then they would not have had the best attendance in the league.".[16]

As of February 2008 only three of the attendance banners - the two earliest ones (1998 and 1999) and the one for 2002 (only Mystics team to win a playoff series to date) - hung in the Verizon Center rafters; the other three were removed to make room for a Georgetown Final Four (men's basketball) banner, to go next to that team's 1984 national championship banner.

In the 2009 season, the Mystics once again led the WNBA in attendance at 11,338 per game;[17] however, in an entry on his blog, Ted Leonsis, whose Lincoln Holdings owns the Mystics, promised that there will be no attendance banner for 2009 should the Mystics conclude the season with the attendance lead [1].

In a blog entry of 7 May 2010, Leonsis announced that the banners would be coming down.[18]

Season-by-season records[edit]


Current roster[edit]

Washington Mystics roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Height Weight DOB From Yrs
G 22 Liberia Ajavon, Matee 5' 8" (1.73m) 160 lb (73kg) 05-07-1986 Rutgers 4
F 25 United States Currie, Monique 6' 0" (1.83m) 177 lb (80kg) 02-25-1983 Duke 6
G 4 United States Hill, Tayler 5' 10" (1.78m) 145 lb (66kg) 10-23-1990 Ohio State R
F/C 1 United States Langhorne, Crystal 6' 2" (1.88m) 190 lb (86kg) 10-27-1986 Maryland 4
G 12 United States Latta, Ivory 5' 6" (1.68m) 143 lb (65kg) 09-25-1984 North Carolina 5
G 5 United States McKenith, Nadirah 5' 7" (1.7m) 155 lb (70kg) 09-06-1991 St. Johns R
C 33 Belgium Meesseman, Emma 6' 4" (1.93m) 182 lb (83kg) 05-13-1993 Belgium R
C 10 Turkey Hollingsworth, Quanitra 6' 5" (1.96m) 200 lb (91kg) 11-15-1988 Virginia Commonwealth 3
G 44 United States Ruffin-Pratt, Tierra 5' 10" (1.78m) 183 lb (83kg) 04-11-1991 North Carolina R
F/C 2 United States Snow, Michelle 6' 5" (1.96m) 158 lb (72kg) 03-20-1980 Tennessee 10
C 9 United States Vaughn, Kia 6' 4" (1.93m) 198 lb (90kg) 01-24-1987 Rutgers 3

Head coach
United States Mike Thibault (St. Martin's)
Assistant coaches
United States Marianne Stanley (Immaculata)
United States Eric Thibault (Missouri)
Athletic trainer
United States Navin Hettiarachchi (West Virginia)
Strength and conditioning coach
United States Michael Bugielski (Illinois State)

  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • Injured Injured

WNBA roster page

Other rights owned[edit]

Nationality Name Years pro Last played Drafted
Serbia Sara Krnjić 0 N/A 2011
Serbia Jelena Milovanović 0 N/A 2009

Former players[edit]

Coaches and staff[edit]


Head coaches[edit]

Washington Mystics head coaches

General managers[edit]

  • Melissa McFerrin (1998–2001)
  • Judy Holland-Burton (2002–2004)
  • Linda Hargrove (2005–2008)
  • Angela Taylor (2009–2010)
  • Trudi Lacey (2011–2012)
  • Mike Thibault (2013–present)

Assistant coaches[edit]


Washington Mystics statistics

Media coverage[edit]

Currently, some Mystics games are broadcast on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic (CSN-MA), a local television station for Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. Usually, NBA TV will pick up the feed from the local broadcast, which is shown nationally. Broadcasters for Mystics games are Frank Hanrahan and Christy Winters Scott.

All games (excluding blackout games, which are available on ESPN3.com) are broadcast to the WNBA LiveAccess game feeds on the league website. Furthermore, some Mystics games are broadcast nationally on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. The WNBA has reached an eight year agreement with ESPN, which will pay right fees to the Mystics, as well as other teams in the league.[19]

All-time notes[edit]

Regular season attendance[edit]

Regular season all-time attendance

Draft picks[edit]

  • 1998 Expansion Draft: Heidi Burge (2), Penny Moore (4), Deborah Carter (6), Tammy Jackson (8)
  • 1998: Murriel Page (3), Rita Williams (13), Angela Hamblin (23), Angela Jackson (33)
  • 1999: Chamique Holdsclaw (1), Shalonda Enis (13), Andrea Nagy (25), Jennifer Whittle (37)
  • 2000: Tausha Mills (2), Tonya Washington (18)
  • 2001: Coco Miller (9), Tamara Stocks (25), Jamie Lewis (41), Elena Karpova (44)
  • 2002: Stacey Dales-Schuman (3), Asjha Jones (4), LaNisha Cartwell (33), Teresa Geter (36)
  • 2003 Miami/Portland Dispersal Draft: Jenny Mowe (8)
  • 2003: Aiysha Smith (7), Zuzana Zirkova (21), Trish Juline (32), Tamara Bowie (36)
  • 2004 Cleveland Dispersal Draft: Chasity Melvin (2)
  • 2004: Alana Beard (2), Kaayla Chones (15), Evan Unrau (28)
  • 2005: Temeka Johnson (6), Erica Taylor (19), Tashia Moorehead (32)
  • 2006: Tamara James (8), Nikki Blue (19), Myriam Sy (33)
  • 2007 Charlotte Expansion Draft: Teana Miller (6)
  • 2007: Bernice Mosby (6), Megan Vogel (19), Gillian Goring (33)
  • 2008: Crystal Langhorne (6), Lindsey Pluimer (19), Krystal Vaughn (33)
  • 2009 Houston Dispersal Draft: Matee Ajavon (2)
  • 2009: Marissa Coleman (2), Camille Lenoir (23), Jelena Milavanovic (24), Josephine Owino (28)
  • 2010 Sacramento Dispersal Draft: Kristin Haynie (6)
  • 2010: Jacinta Monroe (6), Jenna Smith (14), Shanavia Dowdell (18), Alexis Gray-Lawson (30)
  • 2011: Victoria Dunlap (11), Karima Christmas (23), Sarah Krnjic (35)
  • 2012: Natalie Novosel (8), LaSondra Barrett (10), Anjale Barrett (26), Briana Gilbreath (35)


  • 1999: Chamique Holdsclaw, Nikki McCray
  • 2000: Chamique Holdsclaw, Nikki McCray
  • 2001: Chamique Holdsclaw, Nikki McCray
  • 2002: Stacey Dales-Schuman, Chamique Holdsclaw
  • 2003: Chamique Holdsclaw
  • 2004: None
  • 2005: Alana Beard
  • 2006: Alana Beard
  • 2007: Alana Beard, Delisha Milton-Jones
  • 2008: No All-Star Game
  • 2009: Alana Beard
  • 2010: Monique Currie, Lindsey Harding, Crystal Langhorne
  • 2011: Crystal Langhorne
  • 2012: No All-Star Game

Honors and awards[edit]

  • 1999 Rookie of the Year: Chamique Holdsclaw
  • 1999 All-WNBA Second Team: Chamique Holdsclaw
  • 1999 Peak Performer (FG%): Murriel Page
  • 2000 Peak Performer (FG%): Murriel Page
  • 2001 All-WNBA Second Team: Chamique Holdsclaw
  • 2002 Coach of the Year: Marianne Stanley
  • 2002 Most Improved Player: Coco Miller
  • 2002 All-WNBA Second Team: Chamique Holdsclaw
  • 2002 Peak Performer (Scoring): Chamique Holdsclaw
  • 2002 Peak Performer (Rebounds): Chamique Holdsclaw
  • 2003 Peak Performer (Rebounds): Chamique Holdsclaw
  • 2005 Rookie of the Year: Temeka Johnson
  • 2005 All-Defensive Second Team: Alana Beard
  • 2005 All-Rookie Team: Temeka Johnson
  • 2006 All-WNBA Second Team: Alana Beard
  • 2006 All-Defensive Second Team: Alana Beard
  • 2007 All-Defensive First Team: Alana Beard
  • 2009 Most Improved Player: Crystal Langhorne
  • 2009 All-Defensive Second Team: Alana Beard
  • 2009 All-Rookie Team: Marissa Coleman
  • 2010 All-WNBA Second Team: Crystal Langhorne
  • 2010 All-Defensive Second Team: Lindsey Harding
  • 2013 Coach of the Year: Mike Thibault


  1. ^ "Sheila Johnson: America's first Black female billionaire - Biography". Ebony. 2003. 
  2. ^ MYSTICS: Lincoln Holdings Purchases Mystics
  3. ^ Kent, Milton (11/1/2010). "Mystics Coach Julie Plank Let Go; Trudi Lacey Takes Over". AOL. Retrieved 10/2/2012. 
  4. ^ Hays, Graham (2012-09-27). "'Huge disapppointment' for Mystics". Retrieved 10/2/2012. 
  5. ^ Peay, Carla (2012-09-14). "Mystics fall to Dream, 82-74, their 10th loss in a row". Washington Times. Retrieved 10/2/2012. 
  6. ^ Parham, Nate (2011-04-13). "Lindsey Harding Gets Her Trade To The Atlanta Dream: How Did The Washington Mystics Fare?". SBNation/SwishAppeal. Retrieved 10/2/2012. 
  7. ^ Parham, Nate (2011-04-30). "Washington Mystics Fill A Need With Little Leverage In Three-Way Trade With Seattle Storm, Indiana Fever". SBNation/SwishAppeal. Retrieved 10/2/2012. 
  8. ^ Pelton, Kevin (6/1/2011). "2011 Preview: The Key Addition". WNBA. Retrieved 10/2/2012. 
  9. ^ Yanda, Steve (2011-08-31). "Monique Currie to return from ACL injury Thursday". Washington Post. Retrieved 10/3/2012. 
  10. ^ Peay, Carla (2012-09-24). "Mystics fire coach-general manager Trudi Lacey". Washington Times. Retrieved 10/3/2012. 
  11. ^ "Mercury get top pick in 2013 draft". ESPN. 2012-09-26. Retrieved 10/3/2012. 
  12. ^ December 2, 2010 (2010-12-02). "MYSTICS: Mystics Introduce New GM/Head Coach Trudi Lacey and Unveil New Team Logo". Wnba.com. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  13. ^ Washington City Paper
  14. ^ ESPN - Venue Visitation: 107 and Counting - Espnradio
  15. ^ Washington Wizards
  16. ^ Gallo, Jon. "Washington Mystics". The Washington Post. 
  17. ^ "Womensbasketballonline.com". Womensbasketballonline.com. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  18. ^ http://www.tedstake.com/2010/05/07/washington-mystics-attendance-banners/comment-page-1/#comment-45413
  19. ^ "WNBA Extends TV Rights Deal with ESPN and ABC". Sports Business. June 18, 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 

External links[edit]