A Sad Farewell: Comets’ era comes to an end

By Yolande Lezine
Updated: December 3, 2008

Houston Comets HOUSTON — The end has come for the Houston Comets in the city of Houston! The former four-time WNBA Champions could not find a new owner in time for the league to help assist with the marketing and promotions of the team for the 2009 season.

To those of us who have been keeping close tabs on this situation, this comes as no surprise! The writing has been on the wall for quite sometime. It just took this long for someone to actually admit to it.

I can imagine just how hurt and sad former Houston Comets head coach Van Chancellor is feeling right now. And despite a victory over former LSU assistant and new TSU head coach Yolanda Wells-Broughton earlier this week, his mind had to be on the team that he helped build.

The Houston Comets helped to put the WNBA and women’s basketball on the map in the United States. Everyone anticipated the matchups between the Comets and the New York Liberty. Not even Teresa Weatherspoon’s half-court three-point shot couldn’t keep Houston from winning a championship.

Despite adversity, the sudden death of point guard Kim Perrot and a change in assistant coaches, the Comets quest for four titles has not been matched by any other WNBA team. They set a precident, that has yet to be broken.

To hear that the team is disbanding is horrible! Houston was never respected enough to receive the rights to a WNBA All-Star game. According to league sources there were always some problems.

A lot of players who play in the league today, were fans of the Comets who watched the team during those championship seasons. It was fun, it was exciting , and it was loud with sellout crowds every night.

Don’t be mad at Hilton Koch, the former owner because the team was having financial issues before he got it.

Marketing is a key and you have to have the right people in place to produce the best product. The WNBA and the NBA aren’t even close in the way they handle things. The men have a dress code, but the women’ don’t.

Somebody needs to tell them what marketing and promotions is all about. And who knows, maybe this news is coming out so that someone will feel bad and come to the rescue!

WNBA president Donna Orender has been working hard to try to keep the team in Houston. She met with several people about coming on board to turn things around if they were able to sell the team.

Several young ladies from area middle schools and high schools had the opportunity to become Comets ball girls. It was an experience that they will never forget.

However, the Comets organization never took the time — despite Hurricane Ike disrupting things — to tell the kids thank you and show them their appreciation. You see the ball girls didn’t get paid.

They only received a warmup and a pair of tennis shoes.

Thank God for the warm hearts of Tina Thompson, Erica White, Tameka Dixon and Shannon “Pee Wee” Johnson who personally gave several ball girls autographed shoes, photos, and gear.

Players that will go through the dispersal draft include: Matee Ajavon, Latasha Byears, Shannon Johnson, Sancho Lyttle, Mwadi Mabika, Erica White,Roneeka Hodges, and Mistie Williams. It is unknown what will be next for head coach Karleen Thompson, and assistant coaches Laurie Byrd and Ryan Weisenberg.

At the rate that things are going, it will be interesting to see if the league lasts for another three to five years. The interest is not there like it once was. The players want to be treated as fair as possible by the WNBA just like the men are treated by the NBA.

They know that the salaries won’t be the same, but you can’t miss that something is driving the WNBA players overseas as soon as their respective seasons end. Most of the players that I’ve talked too always talk about how well they’re treated.

It’s not just about the money!

In the first four years of the WNBA the Houston Comets had a player to be named Most Valuable Player twice in Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes won one year, and Coach Van Chancellor won the WNBA Coach of the Year three of the first four seasons. They made their presence felt throughout the league.

Hopefully, this sad move will get the attention of all the government officials who have let the team leave. Forget about the parades, forget about the championships, forget about the women who paved the way.

Thanks for showing the entire season that you really didn’t care about WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PERIOD. KIM PERROT, CYNTHIA COOPER, VAN CHANCELLOR, TINA THOMPSON, AND SHERYL SWOOPES should never be forgotten for the accomplishments that they made and the excitement that they brought to this city.

Since the team is going to be gone, use the money that you got from the season ticket holders and honor them.

They’re the real losers in this game!