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The Washington Mystics is a Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) team based in Washington, D.C.marker, U.S.A. They started play in 1998, the second year of the WNBA and are one of the WNBA's first expansion franchises. Although the Mystics have had women's basketball legends such as Nikki McCray and Chamique Holdsclaw on their roster in the past, the franchise has had mixed success.

The "Mystics" are the WNBA counterpart to the Washington Wizards, but as of 2005 the two franchises are owned by different companies. The Mystics are owned by Lincoln Holdings. Sheila C. Johnson, co-founder of BET and ex-wife of Charlotte Sting owner Robert L. Johnson is the managing partner.

Franchise history

One of the First, One of the Worst (1998-2004)

The Washington Mystics were one of the first WNBA expansion franchises to be established. In 1998, their first season, went to a WNBA worst 3-27 record, but they were led by Olympian Nikki McCray. Although they did not make the playoffs that year, the team had high expectations after drafting University of Tennesseemarker star Chamique Holdsclaw in 1999, which Washington improved, but failed to make the playoffs as they finished with a 12-20 reocrd. Holdsclaw would lead the team to the playoffs in 2000, making the playoffs with a losing record of 14-18, losing to the New York Liberty in a first round sweep.

After being tied for the worst record in the WNBA in 2001 with a 10-22 record, coach Tom Maher and General Manager Melissa McFerrin both resigned. With the future of the franchise up in the air, Mystics assistant coach Marianne Stanley took over as head coach and with the duo of Holdsclaw and rookie guard Stacey Dales-Schuman, the Mystics made the playoffs in 2002 with a 18-14 record. They would sweep the Charlotte Sting in the first round, but lose to New York again in the Eastern Conference Finals 2 games to 1. In 2003, the Mystics would make a franchise second worst record in franchise history with a 9-25 record, dead last in the Eastern Conference.

Rumors of Holdsclaw being unhappy playing in Washington came to a head in 2004 when the Mystics star was sidelined with an unspecified ailment, later revealed to be a bout with depression. With their all-star out, rookie and Duke Universitymarker standout Alana Beard led a depleted Mystics team to a surprising playoff appearance, the third playoff appearance in Mystics history. They finished the 2004 season at .500 (17-17), but lost in the first round to the Connecticut Sun in 3 games.

Changes in the Organization (2005-2007)

The 2005 season saw deep changes in the Mystics organization. Former star Holdsclaw joined the Los Angeles Sparks and the team was sold by Washington Sports and Entertainment to Lincoln Holdings LLC, lead by Ted Leonsis. In 2005, the team finished the regular season with a win/loss record of 16-18 and failed to make the playoffs.

In 2006, the Mystics posted a 18-16 record thriving under star guard Alana Beard who was drafted in 2004. The Mystics entered the playoffs as the 4th seed. In the first round, Washington was ultimately swept by the Connecticut Sun, the first-seeded teem in the East. This ended the 2006 season for the Mystics, who had started to see a glint of hope for their struggling franchise.

The Mystics finished with a 16-18 record in 2007. In a more competitive conference, the team was satisfied by its near-.500 finish. However, at the end of the season, the Mystics had an identical record as the New York Liberty. Since the Liberty won the regular season series against the Mystics, Washington lost the tiebreaker and was eliminated from playoff contention.

At the Bottom Yet Again (2008)

In 2008, the Mystics looked to build on their near-playoff appearance in a tough Eastern conference. They drafted Crystal Langhorne of Marylandmarker with the 6th pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft. Plagues again by coaches problems, the Mystics fell to the bottom of the East again, finishing only in front of the expansion Atlanta team. The Mystics had gone through 10 coaches in 11 years of existence, the most in the WNBA. The Washington front office knew it needed to completely clean out the franchise if success was desired.

Changes, Part Two (2009-present)

During the 2008/2009 WNBA offseason, the Mystics released general manager Linda Hargrove (replaced by Angela Taylor) and interim coach Jessie Kenlaw (replaced by Julie Plank). Under the new general manager, underperforming players were waived as new players were signed. With the second pick in the Houston dispersal draft and the 2009 WNBA Draft, the Mystics selected Matee Ajavon and Marissa Coleman, respectively. The Mystics hope to take advantage of the team changes and finally find consistency in their play.

By the time the season began, the Mystics surprisingly started 3-0. However, they went 13-18 since the first three games, but their 16-18 record was actually good enough to reach the playoffs. However, in their playoff comeback, the eventual conference champion Indiana Fever were too much for Washington and the Mystics were swept in the first round, ending their season.

"Attendance Champions"

The Washington Mystics led the WNBA in home attendance from 1998 through 2000 and from 2002 through 2004. To celebrate the fans turning out for games, they have hung six banners from the Verizon Centermarker rafters celebrating each year the Mystics were "Attendance Champions."

The banners have been the focal point of much criticism over the years. With many people believing that the rafters are reserved for achievements in sports and not by the fans and thinking it is insulting to have banners for championships (such as the '84 Georgetown Hoyas and the '78 Washington Bullets) and retired numbers (for the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals) hang next to "attendance champion" banners.

Members of the press have addressed this controversy many times. Washington City Paper has called them "embarrassing", a 2005 article by Todd Wright had Wright commenting " it's time to lose those Mystics attendance banners hanging from the rafters" , the Sports Road Trip website mocked the banners by stating "Oh... Mystics... WNBA "attendance champions" in '98 and '99. "Wheeeeeeee!" . When Washington Post writer Jon Gallo was asked about the banners, he stated "The attendance banners were largely achieved because the Mystics gave away approximately 30 percent of their tickets before Sheila Johnson took over the team. If the Mystics had made everyone pay for a ticket, then they would not have had the best attendance in the league." .

As of February 2008 only three of the attendance banners - the two earliest ones (1998 and 1999) and the one for 2002 (only Mystics team to win a playoff series to date) - now hang in the Verizon Center rafters; the other three were removed to make room for a Georgetown Final Four (men's basketball) banner, to go next to that team's 1984 national championship banner.

In the 2009 season, the Mystics once again led the WNBA in attendance at 11,338 per game; however, in an entry on his blog, Ted Leonsis, whose Lincoln Holdings owns the Mystics, promised that there will be no attendance banner for 2009 should the Mystics conclude the season with the attendance lead[32931].


  • On the road, deep blue with black and gold trim and white "Mystics" logo text on the chest. At home, white with gold and light blue trim and light blue "Mystics" logo text. The Mystics logo is on the right leg of the shorts.

Season-by-season records

Players and coaches

Current roster

Head coaches

Former players



  1. Sheila Johnson: America's first Black female billionaire - Biography | Ebony | Find Articles at BNET
  2. MYSTICS: Lincoln Holdings Purchases Mystics
  3. Washington City Paper
  4. ESPN - Venue Visitation: 107 and Counting - Espnradio
  5. Washington Wizards
  6. Washington Mystics -

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