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Volume 26 No. 48
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WNBA Sparks-Shock Game Ends In Fight Involving Rick Mahorn

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A fight broke out during the final seconds of last night's WNBA Sparks-Shock game that "brought back memories" of the '04 Pacers-Pistons brawl at The Palace, according to Vince Ellis of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. The fight began with 4.6 seconds remaining in the game when Sparks F Candace Parker and Shock F Plenette Pierson were "battling for position," and both players were ejected. After a few moments, it "appeared things had calmed down," but Sparks F Lisa Leslie "fell down while [Shock assistant coach Rick] Mahorn was trying to restrain her." Sparks F DeLisha Milton-Jones then "hit Mahorn in the back." Mahorn, who was involved with the '04 brawl as a Pistons broadcaster, said of last night's fight, "I was trying to protect the whole game, the integrity of the game. ... I would never push a woman. This game, I love this game too much" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/23). In L.A., Dan Arritt reports Leslie was "pushed away by [Mahorn], causing her to fall to the hardwood floor." WNBA President Donna Orender said that she "doesn't recall any on-court violence 'to this degree'" since joining the league in '05 (L.A. TIMES, 7/23). Shock coach Bill Laimbeer: "Rick Mahorn is known as a peacemaker, from even the brawl we had here [in '04]" (DETROIT NEWS, 7/23).

REAX: This morning’s edition of NBC’s “Today” reported on the Sparks-Shock fight during the show's opening segment. NBC’s Ann Curry said the game “turned into an all-out brawl.” After watching footage of the fight, Curry said, “We all need to give peace a chance.” NBC’s Meredith Vieira: “They always say it’s men who do that. Now I see women -- it’s women who can do it too” (“Today,” NBC, 7/23).  Fox Business’ Jenna Lee said “all-out brawls aren’t unusual at NBA basketball games, but they’re not so common at WNBA games” (“Money for Breakfast,” Fox Business, 7/23). CBS’ Russ Mitchell: “A woman’s pro basketball game turned into ‘Fight Night’” ("The Early Show," CBS, 7/23). FSN’s Barry LeBrock: “It’s like a bad dream here at the Palace.” Leslie said, “It’s unfortunate for it to be a television game (on ESPN2). Obviously, we’ll probably make some highlights and it’s not the way that we want to get attention” (“FSN Final Score,” FSN, 7/22). But SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Shanoff writes the fight "instantly becomes the defining moment of the WNBA." Shanoff: "The good news: More people will watch the WNBA today -- albeit through video replay of the brawl on the news or YouTube -- than ever before. The bad news is that they're tuning in for the brawling, not the balling" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/23). CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said the fight was “probably a business decision, right? I think probably people think women’s basketball is too tame. You throw in a few fights and you get more people (watching)” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 7/23).

EXPANSION? Tulsa Metro Chamber VP/Communications Sheila Curley said that CSL Int'l has asked the organization to conduct a study to "gauge interest in the potential expansion" of the WNBA to Tulsa. The survey's purpose is to "ascertain the level of interest in sponsorship by local corporations." Curley said the Chamber is "not in direct contact with a WNBA franchise owner" (TULSA WORLD, 7/22).