Seattle had an ABL team? Seattle had an ABL team called Reign!?
The ABL was founded in late 1995 with the aim of capitalizing on the expected strong performance of the United States women’s basketball team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The NBA was backing a rival start-up – the WNBA – which would fill dates at NBA arenas during the slow summer months and wouldn’t start until 1997. As expected, the Americans won Gold in Atlanta. Thanks to an earlier start in October 1996 and more generous salaries and benefits, the ABL initially lured the majority of the Olympic champions to their league.
Generous salaries? How generous?
Prior to the ABL’s second season in 1997-98, the Reign added two outstanding rookies to the roster. Kate Starbird came out of Stanford University as the all-time leading scorer for that powerhouse program and as the Naismith Award winner as the nation’s College Player-of-the-Year. Starbird also had Washington state ties as a graduate of Lakes High School in Lakewood. The 22-year old’s three-year ABL deal came with a base salary of $150,000 plus perhaps another $100,000 in endorsements. The Seattle Times speculated that Starbird owned the richest contract in the women’s game at the time.
HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT KATE STARBIRD!
The Reign returned for a third season in October 1998, but by this time the ABL was financially hobbled by lack of sponsor & television interest, and competition from the far wealthier (but lower paying) WNBA. The team played only 15 games of the 1997-98 season before the ABL ran out of money and closed its doors on December 22, 1998.
WNBA were the bad guys!?
In 2013, Seattle’s new entry in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) gave new life to the “Reign” nickname, adopting the identity of Seattle Reign FC. Reign FC owner Bill Predmore acknowledged that the name was in part a tribute to the original Reign basketball team.
Two former Seattle Reign players, Kate Starbird and Kate Paye, were on the 2002 Seattle Storm with rookie Sue Bird. Yes, that Kate Paye. So according to gay legend, Megan is actually the second Seattle Reign player Sue dated.
And according to gay legend, Kate Starbird told her girlfriend about Diana Taurasi and Lauren Jackson. And her girlfriend told a friend. And that friend would post that story when anonymous 00s forums insisted on Taurasi's heterosexuality. Of course, no one believed the Starbird story back then. But now, it seems a little more credible.
Seattle is a medium-sized city. Sports is a small world. Gay sports is even smaller.
~ 𝓇𝒾𝓅 𝓉𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝓈𝒾𝓁𝓀