GENDER BENDER

December 29, 1997

They were women, and we heard them roar. But like the arms of a
ref signaling a successful Cynthia Cooper three-pointer, the
stems of the ol' Y chromosome cast their shadow over the
premiere seasons of two women's pro basketball leagues, for good
and for ill.

First, the good. The winners of the inaugural championships of
the ABL and the WNBA were coached by the only men to work the
entire first season of their respective leagues--Brian Agler of
the ABL Columbus Quest and Van Chancellor of the WNBA Houston
Comets. It might be ungallant to point this out, but we'll point
it out anyway. You go, guys.

As for the ill, it took only a couple of male boors to dim the
afterglow of the Comets' WNBA title and the MVP play of Cooper
(right). Eric Jackson, Mr. Sheryl Swoopes, griped publicly
because the wife didn't get enough PT in the championship game.
Inside the locker room after that game, owner Les Alexander--the
Comets' very own Halley, given the rarity of his appearances at
their regular-season games--mistook one of his players, guard
Tiffany Woosley-Adcock, for a ball girl.

Even when it was the women behaving badly, you could tell where
they got their inspiration. By ditching the Quest for the WNBA,
ABL Most Valuable Player Nikki McCray recalled that mother of
all league jumpers, Rick Barry. Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil of the
New England Blizzard chose the climactic moments of the ABL's
first All-Star Game to do her Kermit Washington impression,
landing a sucker punch to the face of Cindy Brown of the Seattle
Reign. When Nancy Lieberman-Cline of the Phoenix Mercury put a
Hall of Fame choke hold on the Los Angeles Sparks' Jamila
Wideman, two things ensued: speculation by a courtside wag that
the WNBA's slogan would now become We got necks, and comparisons
with Dennis Rodman.

Well, O.K., the genders might have to share responsibility for
that last one.

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID E. KLUTHO [Cynthia Cooper and others in game]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)