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    Thursday, February 02, 2023

    Tales from the WNBA or ... 'I'm telling!'

    News item: The WNBA, citing statistical errors, nullified Sun center Tina Charles' triple-double from the Fever-Sun game last week at Mohegan Sun Arena. The league announced earlier this week that three assists were incorrectly awarded to Charles in the second period. Hence, Charles finished with 10 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists.

    Reaction to news item: None of us should be naïve enough to think statistical mistakes don't happen during sporting events. Nor should we be obtuse enough to think they shouldn't be corrected.

    And so they have been corrected.

    And we're all supposed to move on now that the integrity of the game has been preserved.

    But, you know, being such a provocative, inquisitive soul has its flaws. So I still have one lingering question:

    How come the team that issued the complaint with the WNBA is being protected better than a mob informant?

    I mean, we're talking about a statistical error here. Not a morals charge.

    I, and others in the media, would like to know the team's identity. We've been told to "expect great" from the WNBA. Just not transparency.

    "It was brought to our attention. I'll leave it at that," WNBA communications director Ron Howard said. He would not offer further details.

    I'm left wondering why. A mistake was made. A team inquired. The mistakes were fixed. Why all the secrecy?

    Unless, of course, there's something to hide.

    So in lieu of transparency - or anybody with the guts to identify themselves - let's analyze what we know, shall we?

    Initial debate over the legitimacy of the assists in question came on "RebKell," a WNBA fan message board. One of the posters, Paul Swanson, (message board handle "p_d swanson") is an employee of the Lynx and Timberwolves, commonly referred to as their "stats guy" and "stats guru."

    Swanson posted the following Sept. 2 at 11:37 p.m., Eastern time, 10:37 p.m. Minneapolis time on RebKell: "Yes, very clearly Charles should be credited with seven (assists) for the game."

    Don't you find it curious that a Lynx employee would be so interested in the Sun-Fever game?

    Unless you consider that the Lynx have a player (Lindsay Whalen) in competition with Charles for potential Most Valuable Player votes. And that the revocation of a triple-double would perhaps influence voters.

    Now, it would take a more cynical fellow to suggest that it was the Lynx who tattled to the league, without even giving Sun officials the courtesy of a phone call first.

    Remember: We're just going with what we know.

    But to recap: The Lynx had just played a home game against New York. The game had been over for roughly 30 minutes.

    So how could a Lynx employee know with such certainty that Charles should have had seven assists?

    How could he have watched the entire Sun game in 30 minutes?

    How could a Lynx employee, on a Lynx game night, have watched Charles' every twitch to know for sure?

    See, these would be the questions the WNBA would have to answer.

    So they've decided not to answer them at all.

    It's led to speculation as to which team brought this to the league's attention. Indiana has been mentioned, too, given that Tamika Catchings is an MVP candidate.

    Let's just say nobody from the Fever has been particularly diligent about returning phone calls to yours truly on the matter.

    I have no problem that Charles' triple-double was revoked. (And neither does Charles, by the way).

    I have a problem with the pettiness.

    I have a problem with the unprofessional behavior, squealing to the league before alerting the Sun of a mistake they'd have fixed forthwith.

    I have a problem with the league's game of "I've Got A Secret."

    Here's what else I know: If the situation was reversed and news of a triple-double from Catchings or Whalen made its way to Connecticut, both players would have been flooded with congratulatory texts and calls. No one would have dissected the game tape. We have lives.

    I'd have no problem if Catchings won the MVP. She is everything good about women's basketball: humble, personable, plays her butt off every night as if people are watching her for the first time.

    I'd have no problem if Whalen won MVP. She should have in 2008. She could win MVP and I'd still say she's the most underrated player in the league.

    I've never made a secret that Whalen became a friend when she played here. Still is. Always will be.

    And let me suggest that the most un-Catchings-like and un-Whalen-like act of them all is pettiness.

    Let me also suggest to the Lynx that they really ought to consider the wisdom of allowing an employee to post on a fan message board. Fans aren't held accountable for their words because they're just fans. And most are anonymous. But when you represent a team, your words demand accountability and more scrutiny.

    Although there I go again demanding accountability.

    Not in the WNBA, apparently.

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.