As Hanukkah comes to a close, I wanted to celebrate the Festival of Lights by counting down the Eight Craziest Nights of the WNBA season. Even though Adam Sadler’s song inspired the theme of this article and I celebrate Christmas, the story of Hanukkah as told in a Disney Channel Original Movie helped inspire my love of basketball.
In November 2003, my basketball fandom was at a low point as the Miami Sol had folded the year before, the Heat had just finished 2002 at the bottom of NBA, and Dwyane Wade’s first year with the Heat started off atrociously. Then, Disney Channel debuted the DCOM Full Court Miracle.
The movie tells the true-ish story of Lamont Carr coaching the Philadelphia Hebrew School basketball team to success after a long losing streak. It’s an absurd movie. At one point, the team does a dance to a “rap” song about basketball and Hanukkah.
Watch this movie. I promise that you will be entertained. Despite its flaws, the movie taught me about Hanukkah and the power of basketball to bring people together. More importantly to 10-year old me, the Heat started to turn it around after I watched Full Court Miracle. They went 39-29 the rest of the season and won a playoff series.
The Heat’s resurgence in 2003 sparked my lifelong love of the game and it all started with this very silly movie about Hanukkah and basketball. The movie didn’t bring back the Miami Sol though, but one miracle at a time I guess…
With that story told, let’s celebrate Hanukkah by counting down the 8 craziest nights of the WNBA season:
1. September 15th: The Hamby Heave
The second round of the 2019 WNBA playoffs started off with the LA Sparks easily eliminating the Seattle Storm 92-68, but it ended with the biggest bang of the season.
— espnW (@espnW) September 15, 2019
I broke down the game and play when it happened because it was insane for so many reasons: Courtney Vandersloot having her worst moment of the year at the worst time, Hamby ripping a half court shot with 7 seconds and a timeout left, and of course everyone freaking TF out afterwards. Hamby’s heave will go down as one of the craziest plays in WNBA history, so it had to start this list.
2. September 6th: Stats mess up in Libs-Fever game
In New York, the Liberty and Fever battled for the best lottery odds. But the crazy part of this game was the piece of WNBA lore that took place.
In the 3rd quarter, the WNBA’s official box scores of the game started showing crazy numbers. The box score showed that Kia Nurse had 49 points on 9/12 shooting from deep. Kelsey Mitchell’s total was also in the 40s. On twitter, WNBA fans and media appropriately freaked out as scoring records were about to be broken in a game where neither team wanted to win.
But alas, it was all a mistake. Indiana’s PR guy, Kevin Messenger, informed us of an error in the stat sheets and we all went back to normal. A part of me will always believe that Kia Nurse had 49 points in the 3rd quarter of that game.
3. September 22th: Game 3 of WNBA Semifinals
The results of the two games on this day were pretty crazy. The Aces beatdown Washington 92-78 to stave off elimination. Then, the Connecticut Sun finished off a stunning sweep of the LA Sparks 78-56.
The craziness came from both sides of the LA-CT matchup. Sparks Head Coach Derek Fisher played Candace Parker for just 11 minutes in an elimination game. Afterwards, a visibly-shaken Parker told reporters to ask Fisher why she didn’t play. It was stunning and will continue to affect LA into 2020.
On the flip side, Connecticut definitively proved that they were more than just role players. Courtney Williams and her dad became true superstars and declared the Sun’s bandwagon closed. Court also gave the best post-game interview of 2019 across all sports.
— John W. Davis (@johnwdavis) September 23, 2019
4. August 10th: Angiwe-Griner fight
This one is unfortunate because fighting is not cool in any instance. But it was crazy and drew more mainstream media coverage than any other regular season event. *eye roll*
But we did learn somethings from it though: (1) DO NOT HIT BRITNEY GRINER IN THE FACE and (2) if you do for any reason, run. That’s exactly what Kristine Angiwe did, which was a wise choice from the rookie. Of course, she smacked Griner in the first place in violation of Rule 1.
5. July 5th: Vegas Earthquake
The fact that the earthquake at Aces-Mystics game is this far down the list means the WNBA season was indeed crazy. The game between the first-place and third-place teams was highly anticipated. But we only got half of it in July because of the quake.
EARTHQUAKE AT THE MYSTICS GAME!
Play paused for a bit… pic.twitter.com/9VZ0RJ0XjV
— BF_Mystics (@BF_mystics) July 6, 2019
Jenn Hatfield of High Post Hoops did a great write-up of the game. In the end, the Mystics held on to their 15-point half-time lead for two months and won going away. It was the third time that an Aces-Mystics game featured a cancellation or postponement. Let’s hope next year’s matchup goes off without a hitch.
6. July 25th-27th: All-Star Weekend
All-Star Weekend truly lived up to the hype this year. From the Captains’ draft, to the Friday Night Festivities, to the DJ Liz Cambage/Snoop Dogg concert, to the game itself, the WNBA grabbed the headlines. Check out Neil Olstad’s photo diary of the weekend to remember all of it. The “craziest” thing to happen may have been Erica Wheeler taking home the All-Star Game MVP as the first undrafted player to ever do so. Her speech afterwards was just perfect as well.
— WNBA (@WNBA) July 27, 2019
7. May 24th: Opening night madness
The season’s first night featured two great games from the four teams that ended up missing the playoffs. First, the Dream stormed back from a 9-point deficit in the 4th quarter to beat the Wings. It would be one of just 8 victories on the season. Then, Teaira McCowan hit a game-winning layup as the buzzer sounded in her first game to get the Fever a win over the Liberty. I was yelling on night 1 and it was glorious.
— WNBA (@WNBA) May 25, 2019
8. October 10th: Game 5 of the WNBA Finals
We end where the season itself ended. The Mystics took home their first championship, Coach T finally got his ring, EDD got the monkey off her back, and Emma Meesseman was one of the most improbable Finals MVPs in basketball history. The game itself featured a crazy finish with Connecticut looking like they may actually pull off a stunning upset, and DC storming back to win the title.
The post-game was even crazier. Confetti flew around, Bradley Beal and John Wall were on the court, and of course, Aerial Powers carried around a bottle of ciroc for the entire celebration. It was magical, crazy, and a perfect way to end the season.
Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year, everybody!