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1,110 words on Monday's Fan Forum — Part I


The Connecticut Sun held a nearly two-hour fan forum Monday.

Two thousand, five hundred and twenty three words of notes were taken from said event.

Try to fit all of that into a 600-word newspaper story. I dare ya.'
I triple dog dare ya.'

Monday's Q&A covered too much ground to fit into just one news story or, for that matter, blog.

This, then, is the first in a series of blogs pertaining to said forum.
How many parts will there be? Danged if I know. Television done ruined my attention span.

Keep tuning in regularly for Parts II through, um, something.
Part I is about the past — why fan favorites such as Margo Dydek, Katie Douglas, Taj McWilliams and Nykesha Sales are no longer with the team.

"No coach trades anybody, as a general rule, if they think it's going to keep them from winning," coach Mike Thibault said. "There are special circumstances."

McWilliams, Connecticut's former money post, was traded in 2007 at her request. The Sun sent her to Los Angeles in exchange for the rights to Erika DeSouza and the 12th pick in that year's draft (which they used to draft Sandrine Gruda).

"That was a very hard trade in many ways," Thibault said. "What I said publicly at the time was accurate, but I just chose not to say some things. Taj wanted to be closer to her daughter (Michele) who was starting college. That was a true statement, but there are other things that go into those kinds of things.

"There were probably three or four parts to the trade. Number one, Taj and that group of players had been together in Orlando seven years before they came here. They weren't new players playing together when they came to Connecticut. By the time we traded Taj, many of them had played together seven years. There were things within our team. Tension-stuff starts to build up.

"Anybody who thinks that any pro sports team. … it's not one big happy family every day. It just isn't. You have competitive players by nature, and they got to where they are because they're highly competitive. They all have egos of varying degrees. We had a situation where that team was losing it's chemistry from within. There were players who just didn't like playing with each other from both sides of the fence.

"Taj wasn't thrilled with some things. There were some people, whatever personality reasons, weren't happy the other way. Those things happen. Taj and I have a great relationship. We talk every couple of months. She understood, but she also was at that time debating retirement. And as anybody here that's ever been a Celtics fan knows, remember what you had to show for (Larry) Bird, (Robert) Parish and (Kevin) McHale. That's what you face sometimes as a player gets near the end of their career. So we had an opportunity to make a trade.

"Was it the best deal you could get? I don't know. It was the deal that was available after searching about 10 different things. Taj didn't really want to be here, and it was the right time to do something.

"You can look back on it and say we weren't as good the next year (2007). Well, we probably weren't, but there's a window of opportunity that each team has with its players, and our window was starting to close a little bit. That was kind of our first step to get some younger talent into our team and go forward."

Douglas, like McWilliams, wanted out for family reasons after the 2007 season. She wanted to go home to Indianapolis and was a restricted free agent.

The Sun could have refused to trade Douglas, but ran the risk of her spending her summer's home in Indiana (WNBA players make the bulk of their cash playing overseas in the winter).

Douglas was traded to Indiana for Tamika Whitmore, the rights to guard Jessica Foley and Indiana's first round pick in the 2008 draft (12th overall, which Connecticut used to draft Ketia Swanier).

Thibault was brief in his comments about the Douglas deal.

"Hindsight being (20-20)," he said, "there are a lot of things I'd like to redo about all of Katie Douglas' situation, and that goes back a long ways."

Sales is the franchise's leader in games played (309) and points (4,330). She also played in a franchise record 248 games before suffering injuries in both 2006 and 2007.

Sales played her last game for the Sun in 2007.

"She was hurt and she hasn't come back to the league since," Thibault said. "Nykesha can play in Europe because she gets to play two days a week (and) not practice a lot. She gets time off between games. She can play that way and make money. It's very difficult for her to play in our league. She's been away a couple of years.

"I don't know if she really wants to try to play again (in the WNBA). She and I talked last summer briefly and there was no interest in that time of trying to do it. We've had to move on. You can't wait for somebody."

Connecticut plans on honoring Sales when she's officially retires.

"We want Keesh to come back," Sun GM Chris Sienko said. "We want to honor Keesh. We've asked her for a couple of years, but I don't think Keesh is ready to say she's retired yet."

Thibault said: "We're going to start some sort of wall of fame or ring of honor. She would be our first inductee, but she's got to feel like she's got some closure before she does it. We've talked to her about it and we'll see what happens."

Dydek played with Connecticut from 2005-2007. She became pregnant prior to the 2008 season and the Sun didn't retain her rights.

"I made the comment the other day (to The Day) — 'I didn't get Margo pregnant,'" Thibault chuckled. "You've got to talk to her husband about that. She hasn't come back to play but (three) games with L.A. after that at playoff time (2008). She has no interest right now in playing in our league. She wasn't traded or given away. She basically retired."

Hopefully you didn't black out before you got to here, the 1,057th word of this blog.

More …. soon.

Vaya con dios….

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