The effect of unstable and trade-happy teams

A couple months ago, I asked someone at the WNBA to verify the short list of players who have been with one WNBA team their entire careers. I had been thinking about Tamika Catchings, Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird – the longest-termers. Catchings was drafted by the Indiana Fever and Jackson, the Seattle Storm, in 2001. Bird was taken by the Storm in 2002. While other players have been dealt away and franchises have folded, these three have remained with their teams of origin for over a decade.

It’s no small feat these days, as one newspaper noted. Here’s the rest of the list of players who have been with one team, and one team only for the duration of their careers:

Diana Taurasi – Phoenix Mercury, 2004 draft
Seimone Augustus – Minnesota Lynx, 2006 draft
Sophia Young – San Antonio Silver Stars, 2006 draft
Essence Carson – New York Liberty, 2008 draft
Sylvia Fowles – Chicago Sky, 2008 draft
Crystal Langhorne – Washington Mystics, 2008 draft
Candace Parker – Los Angeles Sparks, 2008 draft
Candice Wiggins – Minnesota Lynx, 2008 draft
Leilani Mitchell – New York Liberty, 2008 trade before start of season

Nakia Sanford spent eight years with the Washington Mystics before moving to Phoenix last season. Charde Houston was drafted by the Lynx in 2008, but was recently traded to the Mercury.

Lisa Leslie played all 13 of her seasons in the WNBA for the Sparks before retiring in 2009 – the only player yet to do so.

More athletes would have been able to do the same as Leslie, if their teams hadn’t folded. Think Ticha Penicheiro, Tina Thompson, Helen Darling.

In the cases of other star players, I don’t know why they were ever traded from their original franchises in the first place. I’m thinking Katie Smith and Becky Hammon.

I suppose it was politics that we don’t need to know about. But it would be nice if we had more players who stayed on teams long-term. It would definitely create more fan loyalty. Is it any coincidence that the Storm have such rabid and dedicated fans? I think not. Fever fans are extremely loyal, too.

I am hoping everyone on the above list stays on their respective teams, and that there are others like them to follow.

Tomorrow’s WNBA draft will be at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT on ESPN2.


Cierra Warren, take three… she’s going to San Diego State. Will she stay there? We’ll see at the end of the 2013-2014 season. She’ll probably have a doctorate degree by then.