Shouldn’t the Sun, you know, get a banner when they earn one?
Mohegan — The rafters inside the building hardly tell the story of Mohegan Sun Arena’s impact, not just on our corner of the world. Actually, the cement wall just off a runway in the arena’s recesses, with autographs and acknowledgements of virtually every musical act and sports personality to have played the place, bears the more accurate illustration.
There’s never been another gathering spot, especially among us, to have delivered more joy.
The rafters: Two Connecticut Sun banners, trumpeting the 2004 and 2005 Eastern Conference playoff championships that sent the Sun to the WNBA Finals. There are three retired numbers from Sun greats Nykesha Sales, Katie Douglas and Margo Dydek. Billy Joel’s record 10 sold-out shows in New England. And a banner for an “Arena of the Year” distinction.
Still, the Sun’s most impressive, yet underrated, accomplishment — winning the regular season title within the Eastern Conference — goes ignored. In a few weeks, the Sun might win their fifth regular-season title in their 15-year run, pretty darn good numbers by any franchise’s measure, at least if you’re not the Celtics or the Lakers.
The Sun beat Dallas here Wednesday night 93-87. They lead New York by two games and Washington by 2 1/2 with four remaining. This won’t be easy, not with trips to Washington, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
But, you know, what if?
What if they win it?
Will the regular season championship get acknowledged in the arena?
Will the titles in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012?
“If it was up to me absolutely,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “I’d have no hesitation at all. Maybe even more than ever, the schedule is about as balanced as it can be, playing everybody three times and some four. I would be an advocate of the banner. We haven’t talked about it, but it would be a fun discussion point if that were the case.”
Earlier Wednesday, yours truly spoke to old friend Mike Thibault, the coach in Washington now and also the author of the four previous regular-season titles here. Coach T said his four different teams engaged in modest celebrations of the championships, with glasses of champagne in the locker room, homage to accomplishing a regular-season goal.
“We didn’t go crazy and spray champagne all over the place, but we did celebrate them,” Thibault said. “I think winning the regular season should be recognized. If we win it this year, I hope we hang a banner in our building.”
Thibault said, quite correctly, that most NBA arenas recognize regular-season division titles. Among the exceptions: The old Boston Garden and now the newer TD Garden, at which only world championship banners hang for the Celtics.
Note to Sun management: If your kids hang on and win this thing, you need to hang a banner. For all five titles. OK, so they needn’t parade the thing through the Wolf Den, Ballo and the Bow & Arrow. We understand that playoff matchups aren’t dictated by conference standings anymore. But there’s still something to be said for being the best team in your neighborhood over the long haul.
Especially in this league. This isn’t easy. WNBA travel is a giant pain in the asphalt. The league does not allow for charters, thus foisting commercial air travel on the dramatis personae. We all hate airports and the requisite drills: impatience, crowds, groping, removal of shoes and belts, etc. Plus a schedule, for example, left Dallas and Phoenix with two flights apiece recently to Connecticut within two weeks of each other. Lovely.
And this just in: It’s not so easy to get here, what with the Hartford and Providence airports an hour away. Maybe one of these days Groton/New London will accept commercial flights again, at least able to bring WNBA teams here.
And so if in the WNBA you can summon enough fueling to combat the grueling, is it asking too much to hang a banner in celebration?
It’s the difference, essentially, between winning a division in baseball versus making the wild card. Put it this way: If the Red Sox hold on and win the American League East, their celebration deserves to be more pronounced than whoever claims the wild card. The best team over six months and 162 games means something.
True enough: Once the playoffs start, nobody remembers the regular season. It doesn’t matter if you get to the prom by limo or hay wagon. It’s what you do when you get there.
But it doesn’t mean the regular season didn’t exist. Or count.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro
MOST VIEWED MEDIA
MOST DISCUSSED STORIES