Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Sunday, April 18, 2004

I'm not really sure whom to be most mad at today.

Mike Thibault, obviously, can go to hell. With Marianne Stanley fired, Thibault is now easily the least likeable coach in the league. I'm not sad that Whalen has to go to Connecticut, but I do feel bad that she has to go play for an asshole like Thibault.

Everyone knows that the Lynx are a marginal franchise. Even though Glen Taylor is a totally un-Gund owner, the team may not survive. Lindsay could make the difference between surviving and folding, and that would be good for the league as a whole.

But I don't fault the Sun for keeping Whalen. Thibault and Connecticuit have no "good citizen" obligation to give us Whalen anymore than Phoenix had an obligation to sent Taurasi to the Sun.

Thibault bargained hard, and I don't even fault him for that. He had a strong hand. Whalen isn't really worth that much to the Sun, but Thibault knows what she's worth to the Lynx, and he wanted to squeeze every bit of value out of the trade. He went for the pound of flesh and more.

But that's his right. He had the higher pick. If he wants to keep her, so be it.

What does bother me is his public statements. He has said to the Minnesota press that the Lynx haven't made anything close to a good offer. He has said the Lynx didn't step up. He has implied that they weren't serious about making a deal.

This is where he crosses the line from hard bargaining to just being a dick. Apparently, his strategy is to trash the Lynx management in hopes that Minnesota fans will get angry and put more pressure on the team, forcing it to fold. But now we stand without a trade, and all Thibault has done is seriously hurt an already borderline franchise.

Charlotte, by contrast, acted with class. When asked why their trade with the Lynx didn't happen, they simply replied "no comment."

Trade talks should stay behind closed doors, and Thibault should have kept his mouth shut. But I shouldn't be surprised -- he's never kept his mouth shut in the past. Partly because he likes to fight his battles in the press. But mostly because he just likes hearing himself talk. In the last two days, he has lived up to his reputation for arrogance and self-importance.

Thibault's public claims that Minnesota wouldn't offer a fair deal are, in any event, absurd. Connecticut's demands were totally unreasonable. Much as I wanted Lindsay, I'm happy that the Lynx told Thibault to piss off.

But among Minnesotans, I may be alone in that sentiment. PP columnist Bob Sansevere now plans to ignore the Lynx. He says they should have made the trade, even if it meant giving up Ohlde, Hayden, Tamika Williams, and Katie Smith.

That's bloody brilliant, Bob. If we made a trade like that, we would be cellar dwellers for years. Even with Lindsay on the team, the fans aren't going to show up to watch the Lynx lose by 30 points every game.

To Sansevere and all of the other Minnesota "fans" who refuse to support the team because they wouldn't give in to Thibault's extortionate demands: you can go to hell too.

Whalen will end up in Minnesota eventually, but it might take awhile, even a couple years. In the interim, the Lynx need to keep improving, adding quality players, as they did yesterday.

And even if we don't get to watch Lindsay this year, we can have fun watching Thibault get fired after the Sun miss the playoffs.

Even strong hands can be overplayed. Thibault got greedy and lost a chance at a deal that not only would have strengthened the Lynx and the WNBA -- it would have helped his team. He will reap what he sowed. And he won't be missed after he's gone from the league.