Yes, they'd trade all that hardware for a WNBA Championship ring.
Elena Delle Donne's Rookie of the Year Award. Sylvia Fowles' Defensive Player of the Year Swin Cash's Kim Perrot Leadership Award.
Despite these heady honors, along with a 24-10 season, they all sat stunned in the locker room at Allstate Arena after their Game 1 loss to the 2012 Champion Indiana Fever, and vowed that they'd play defense in Indy on Sunday.
It didn't happen, of course, and they were swept in two of the best-of-three series. The Fever moved on to the Eastern Conference Finals against the formerly bottom-of-the-cellar Washington Mystics, who overcame the Atlanta Dream to earn a spot in the finals.
“We are a better basketball team than we showed," said Pokey Chatman, the Sky's Head Coach, on Sunday. "Indiana is a great team. We were the number two rebounding team. It comes down to the basic fundamentals. You also have to read, react and attack.”
Fighting back tears, Courtney Vandersloot, her face flushed red, told me, "I think we have to believe that we can fight our way through this."
Fever Coach Linn Dunn agreed. "They (the Sky) are very, very good. The missing link is playoff experience, and that's what they're getting this year, and it's going to be so good for them for the future,'' she said. ``They're young, they're getting the experience of what it's like to be in the playoffs, and we certainly didn't think we had the advantage.''
The Sky will have a long offseason to make adjustments. I believe they are still one offensive scoring mind and one defensive player away from reaching the the WNBA Finals.
The honors just keep coming, however, for their remarkable 2013 season. Starting center Sylvia Fowles won the 2013 WNBA Peak Performer Award for her rebounding accomplishments this season. Showing consistency throughout the Sky’s regular season games, Fowles averaged 11.5 per game to finish as the league’s best rebounder this season.
Fowles was in double-digits for rebounding 20 times throughout the season. She had her 22nd career 15-plus rebound game of her career against the Atlanta Dream on September 13 and is tied for third on the WNBA’s all-time list in the statistic. Fowles ranks second all-time in career rebounding average (9.8 per game). Her 369 total rebounds this season is also the third highest single season total in league history.
On Wednesday, Fowles and Delle Donne were named to the All-WNBA First and Second Teams.
Fowles led all vote getters with 167 points. This is the second First Team for Fowles, who also led the league in field goal percentage (.586). She ranked second in blocks with an average 2.44 per game. She was also named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for three months, and captured Eastern Conference Player of the Week for her efforts for the week of July 8-July 14 and August 12-August 18.
With 105 votes, Delle Donne earned her first All-WNBA team honor. Delle Donne was
unanimously voted the 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year. Delle Donne also swept the
Rookie of the Month honors during the 2013 season and earned four Eastern Conference
Player of the Week honors.
She led the Sky in points, averaging 18.1 per game, and led the league in free throw percentage (.929) and ranked second in three-point percentage (.438).
"My team has experienced so many franchise milestones this year: the first winning season, the first playoff appearance, franchise attendance records, among other things. While my teammates and I are extremely proud of these accomplishments, we are far from satisfied. We are motivated by and aware of the fact that there is still work to be done."
Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne, blogging as the playoffs began
The All-WNBA team was selected from a panel of 39 local and national sportswriters and
broadcasters. Each player received five points for a First Team vote and three points for a
Second Team vote. Fowles and her fellow First Team members will each receive $10,000 and a trophy designed by Tiffany & Co. Delle Donne’s Second Team accolades earn her $5,000 along with a Tiffany & Co. trophy.
A WNBA Championship ring would be better. That's what they all told me. Like this one, awarded to the Indiana Fever in 2012:
A reminder: Michael Jordan won several MVP awards long before he got his first championship ring in 1991. I predict the Sky's success, and the individual successes of this talented group, will carry them over the top.
As Al Pacino said in his Oscar-winning role, "I'm just getting warmed up!" So, too, are the Sky.
Wait til next year. You're going to see something big.