The Washington Mystics (11-7) defeated the first-place Connecticut Sun (12-5) 71-63 at home during their historic 25th anniversary game on Sunday, June 19th.
Mystics star Elena Delle Donne led the team in scoring with 15 points, with Ariel Atkins following close behind finishing with 12. The team had a standout defensive performance, keeping the Sun at 36.4 percent shooting in the first three quarters and forcing them to commit 13 turnovers. As they maintained a steady lead throughout the entire game, a Mystics victory was never in doubt for home team fans.
With this game taking place on both Father’s Day and the Juneteenth holiday it has special significance for the Mystics franchise.
Mystics forward-center, Elizabeth Williams, opened up about the special significance of the team’s win on this day. “It’s big, you always have it in the back of your mind when you’re playing for something more. And I think when you think about the history of this team and this franchise, and what they’ve been able to do, I’m glad to be a part of it,” she said.
Juneteenth, which is considered the longest-running African-American holiday, commemorates the official emancipation of enslaved African-Americans. In June of 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making it a federal holiday.
The WNBA is strongly committed to supporting social justice causes. In 2020, they announced the launch of a new platform, The Justice Movement, and the creation of the WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council. These collaborative efforts between the league and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association represent an effort to build bridges to communities, and create sustainable change.
During halftime team veteran stars Murriel Page, Vicky Bullett, and Chamique Holdsclaw were inducted into the organization’s inaugural Hall of Fame class. All of these women hold an invaluable place in both Mystics, WNBA and women’s basketball history.
Page was the first player to sign a contract for the Mystics, coming out in the first round as the 3rd overall draft pick in the 1998 WNBA Draft. She went on to play professionally, both in the WNBA and overseas. Page also won a silver medal in the 1997 Olympics, as the lead scorer on the USA Women’s National Basketball Team. She has gone on to coach on the collegiate level, and is currently the assistant women’s basketball coach at Georgia Tech.
Bullet, known as the “Iron Woman”, began her career in the WNBA at the league’s founding in 1997. She enjoyed a 16-year professional career, and was a member of both the 1988 and 1992 United States Olympic Teams, which won gold and bronze medals, respectively. Bullet retired in 2007, later returning to the Mystics as an assistant coach. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, and is now the head coach of the women’s basketball team at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Holdsclaw was selected as the first overall by the Mystics in the 1999 WNBA Draft. In her first season she was named Rookie of the Year, and was selected as a starter in the inaugural WNBA All-Star Game that same year. Holdsclaw was a member of the USA National Team that won gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. After her departure from professional basketball, Holdsclaw has been a vocal mental health advocate, speaking publicly about her struggles with mental illness. She released her autobiography Breaking Through: Beating the Odds Shot after Shot in 2012, and is the subject of the 2016 documentary film Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw.
When asked if the event caused them to think about their own futures with the Mystics, Elena Delle Donne said, “Certainly … Hopefully we can continue to impact this organization and make them proud. And maybe one day, (Ariel) and I will be back here..”
The Mystics kicked off a three game West Coast road trip this week. They face off against the Seattle Storm today, tipoff is at 10:00 p.m. EST.