Sheryl Swoopes deserves better than this

Sheryl Swoopes is one of the legends of the women’s game.

Her jersey was retired after she played only two years at Texas Tech, where she won the national championship as a senior and set school records. She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and a four-time WNBA champion. She was the first woman to have a Nike shoe named after her, and she was the face of the game for many years, inspiring countless girls to pick up a ball. In 2005, Swoopes also became the first professional player to publicly come out.

So where is the legendary player now? Sitting at home in Seattle.

Last year she ended an 11-year career with the Houston Comets by signing with the Storm as a free agent. In January, Swoopes was abruptly waived by Seattle, and the team owners thanked her for her contributions. She didn’t receive any training camp invitations, and didn’t try out for any WNBA team. So I guess Swoopes is out of work and officially retired.

It reminds me of the stanza in the T.S. Eliot poem, “The Hollow Men”:

this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
not with a bang but with a whimper


But if the WNBA allows the career of this great player to end with a whimper, they should be utterly ashamed of themselves. Swoopes may not be a part of the swan song that is this summer, with the impending retirements of other legends like Lisa Leslie and Yolanda Griffith. But she is no less deserving of fanfare.

Leslie reportedly will be honored in other arenas this summer as the Sparks hit town, and Swoopes should also be honored in some way. Though there is no more Comets since they folded last year, that venue might be the All-Star game, or one of the WNBA finals games. But she should be honored.

WNBA, do the right thing. Give Swoopes the send off and the closure that she deserves for all she has given to the game for the last few decades.