Washington Mystics |
|Arena||St. Elizabeths East Arena (from 2019)|
Red, navy blue, silver, white|
|Main sponsor||Inova Health System|
|General manager||Mike Thibault|
|Head coach||Mike Thibault|
Monumental Sports & Entertainment|
(Chairman: Ted Leonsis)
|Conference titles||1 (2018)|
The Washington Mystics are a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). The team was founded prior to the 1998 season, and is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment (led by Ted Leonsis), which also owns the Mystics' NBA counterpart, the Washington Wizards. Sheila C. Johnson, co-founder of BET and ex-wife of Charlotte Sting owner Robert L. Johnson, is the managing partner.
The Mystics have qualified for the WNBA Playoffs in 10 of its 20 seasons of existence, and the franchise has been home to such high-quality players as 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, Tennessee standout Chamique Holdsclaw, athletic shooting guard Alana Beard, and nearby Maryland product Crystal Langhorne. Until 2018, the Mystics were the only current WNBA franchise that had never made it to the WNBA Finals. They lost in the semifinals twice, to New York in 2002 and to the eventual champion Minnesota Lynx in 2017.
The Washington Mystics were one of the first WNBA expansion franchises to be established. In 1998, their first season, they finished with a WNBA worst 3-27 record, despite being led by Olympian Nikki McCray. Although they did not make the playoffs that year, the team had high expectations after drafting University of Tennessee star Chamique Holdsclaw in 1999. Washington improved, but again failed to make the playoffs as they finished with a 12-20 record. Holdsclaw would lead the team to the playoffs in 2000, making the playoffs with a 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. With the duo of Holdsclaw and rookie guard Stacey Dales-Schuman, the Mystics made the playoffs in 2002 with a 17-15 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. This would be the only time the Mystics would win a playoff series until 2017.
In 2003, the Mystics would make a franchise second worst record in franchise history with a 9-25 record, 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 University standout Alana Beard led a depleted Mystics team to a surprising playoff appearance, the third in Mystics history. They finished the 2004 season at 17-17, but lost in the first round to the Connecticut Sun in 3 games.
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, led by Ted Leonsis. In 2005, the team finished the regular season with a record of 16-18 and failed to make the playoffs.
In 2006, the Mystics posted an 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 team in the East.
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 the same 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.
In 2008, the Mystics looked to build on their near-playoff appearance in a tough Eastern conference. They drafted Crystal Langhorne of Maryland 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 Mystics front office knew it needed to completely clean out the entire coaching and management staff.
During the 2008/2009 WNBA off-season, 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 hoped 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. They went 13-18 since the first three games, but their 16-18 record was good enough to reach the playoffs. However, in their playoff comeback, the eventual conference champion Indiana Fever were too much for Washington to handle and the Mystics were swept in the first round. This would be the final season Alana Beard played a game for the Mystics, as she suffered two season-ending injuries in the 2009 and 2010 offseasons, respectively.
The Mystics had their best season ever in 2010. Led by Lindsey Harding, Katie Smith, and Crystal Langhorne, the Mystics took first place in the East with a record of 22-12. However, despite holding a 3-1 edge in regular season games, they were swept in the first round, including a 24-point blowout in the elimination game, by the eventual WNBA Finals runner-up, the Atlanta Dream.
Prior to the 2011 season, the Mystics made many controversial changes. Coming off their best season in franchise history, many had hoped the team would finally see some consistency; this was not the case. General manager Angela Taylor could not reach an agreement on a new contract and after head coach Julie Plank refused a request to handle both coach and GM duties which was reported as a cost cutting measure, Mystics assistant coach Trudi Lacey was named to both positions. When asked if the departure of Plank and Taylor was one of the mistakes she said she had learned from at the 2012 WNBA draft lottery, Mystics owner Sheila Johnson said she couldn't discuss that matter, citing ongoing "human resource issues". After the coach/GM change Harding and Smith both demanded trades to specific teams which were granted (to Atlanta and Seattle, respectively). In addition, starting small forward Monique Currie tore her ACL while playing in Europe in January and was lost for most of the WNBA season. As a result of this off-season turmoil, the Mystics record in 2011 fell to 6-28 from 22-12 the year before. Alana Beard also left in free agency, leaving Crystal Langhorne at center...and not much else.
After an even worse season in 2012 (5-29), Trudi Lacey was fired as the Mystics coach and GM. Although having the best odds of the four teams involved in the lottery held on September 26, 2012 for the 2013 WNBA draft, the Mystics ended up with the 4th pick, missing out on drafting one of the three highly touted players available in the 2013 WNBA Draft; which was Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins.
Despite missing out on a top 3 draft pick, the Mystics remained positive and continued their rebuilding phase while adding some young talent with future potential to their roster. Prior to the 2013 WNBA season, the Mystics drafted Tayler Hill and Emma Meesseman in the 2013 WNBA Draft. After the firing of Trudi Lacey, the Mystics hired Mike Thibault as their new head coach and GM.
In the 2013 WNBA season, the Mystics were 17-17 and made the playoffs losing in the first round.
Prior to the 2014 WNBA season, the Mystics drafted Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson in the 2014 WNBA Draft. In the 2014 WNBA season, Meesseman became the starting center for the Mystics. They finished 16-18 and made the playoffs but lost in the first round yet again.
In the 2015 WNBA season the Mystics made a change in their starting line-up by putting Dolson at center and Meesseman at power forward. The Big-women duo would have breakout seasons as they both were selected into the 2015 WNBA All-Star Game. Later on in the season, the Mystics finished 18-16 and made the playoffs, but were once again a first round exit.
Going into the 2016 WNBA season, the Mystics kept acquiring and developing young talent. They drafted Kahleah Copper in the 2016 WNBA Draft and put Hill in the starting line-up. Hill would have a breakout season, leading the Mystics in scoring with a career-high 15.4 ppg and was second place in voting for the WNBA Most Improved Player award. The Mystics would unfortunately not make the playoffs, finishing with a disappointing 13-21 record but showed signs of promise in the future. Meesseman continued to improve after her breakout season, averaging a career-high 15.2 ppg. Also on September 7, 2016, the Mystics scored a franchise record of 118 points along with 16 three pointers (another franchise record) in a 118-81 victory over the Chicago Sky.
During the 2016-17 off-season, the Mystics were busy in the trade market. With enough trade assets, they were determined to make a trade for a superstar player. First, on January 30, the team executed a three-way deal with the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm, sending Bria Hartley and Kia Vaughn to the Liberty and receiving the Storm's #6 pick in the 2017 draft. This proved the prelude to an even larger deal as it freed up cap space to land a superstar on their team. Officially announced on February 2, the Mystics traded Kahleah Copper, Stefanie Dolson and the second overall pick in the 2017 WNBA draft to the Chicago Sky in exchange for 2015 league MVP Elena Delle Donne. Also during the off-season in free agency they would sign three-point specialist Kristi Toliver (who had just won a championship with the Los Angeles Sparks in the previous season), upgrading their roster into a championship contender. However, with Meesseman missing some games due to overseas commitment, and Tayler Hill out with a torn ACL midway through the season, the Mystics were the number 6 seed in the league with an 18-16 record. The Mystics defeated the Dallas Wings 86-76 in the first round elimination game. In the second round elimination game, the Mystics defeated the New York Liberty 82-68, advancing past the second round for the first time in franchise history, coming off a record-setting performance by Toliver, as she drained 9 three-pointers in the win. In the semi-finals, the Mystics were defeated by the Minnesota Lynx in a 3-game sweep, who would go on to win the 2017 WNBA championship.
In the 2018 WNBA season, the Mystics played without their starting power forward Emma Meesseman, who played for Team Belgium in the FIBA World Tournament. The Mystics made some adjustments in their starting lineup to compensate for her absence. One month into the season, Tayler Hill made her return to the team after recovering from her ACL injury, but she was traded a month later to the Dallas Wings in exchange for Aerial Powers. That trade helped the Mystics boost their roster's wing depth. The Mystics finished as the #3 seed in the league with a 22-12 record, receiving a bye to the second round. In the second-round elimination game, they defeated the Los Angeles Sparks 96-64, advancing to the semifinals for the second year in a row. In the semifinals, the Mystics defeated the #2 seeded Atlanta Dream in an intense five-game series, advancing to the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. In the finals they were swept by the Seattle Storm.
The Washington Mystics led the WNBA in home attendance in the years 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2009. To celebrate the fans turning out for games, six banners were hung from the Verizon Center rafters celebrating each year the Mystics were "Attendance Champions."
The banners were mocked for years  before Ted Leonsis, CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, announced in a 2010 blog that the banners would be taken down, reasoning that the "only banners we should display revolve around winning a division or conference or league championship."
The Mystics will be highly unlikely to lead the WNBA in attendance in the future, since their new home, St. Elizabeths East Arena, seats only 4,200, making it the league's smallest arena.
|Season||Team||Conference||Regular season||Playoff Results||Head coach|
|1998||1998||East||5th||3||27||.100||Did not qualify||J. Lewis (2-16)|
C. Parson (1-11)
|1999||1999||East||5th||12||20||.375||Did not qualify||Nancy Darsch|
|2000||2000||East||4th||14||18||.438||Lost Conference Semifinals (New York, 0-2)||N. Darsch (9-11)|
D. Walker (5-7)
|2001||2001||East||8th||10||22||.313||Did not qualify||Tom Maher|
|2002||2002||East||3rd||17||15||.531||Won Conference Semifinals (Charlotte, 2-0)
Lost Conference Finals (New York, 1-2)
|2003||2003||East||7th||9||25||.265||Did not qualify||Marianne Stanley|
|2004||2004||East||4th||17||17||.500||Lost Conference Semifinals (Connecticut, 1-2)||Michael Adams|
|2005||2005||East||5th||16||18||.471||Did not qualify||Richie Adubato|
|2006||2006||East||4th||18||16||.529||Lost Conference Semifinals (Connecticut, 0-2)||Richie Adubato|
|2007||2007||East||5th||16||18||.471||Did not qualify||R. Adubato (0-4)|
T. Rollins (16-14)
|2008||2008||East||6th||10||24||.294||Did not qualify||T. Rollins (8-14)|
J. Kenlaw (2-10)
|2009||2009||East||4th||16||18||.471||Lost Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 0-2)||Julie Plank|
|2010||2010||East||1st||22||12||.647||Lost Conference Semifinals (Atlanta, 0-2)||Julie Plank|
|2011||2011||East||6th||6||28||.176||Did not qualify||Trudi Lacey|
|2012||2012||East||6th||5||29||.147||Did not qualify||Trudi Lacey|
|2013||2013||East||3rd||17||17||.500||Lost Conference Semifinals (Atlanta, 1-2)||Mike Thibault|
|2014||2014||East||3rd||16||18||.471||Lost Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 0-2)||Mike Thibault|
|2015||2015||East||4th||18||16||.529||Lost Conference Semifinals (New York, 1-2)||Mike Thibault|
|2016||2016||East||6th||13||21||.382||Did not qualify||Mike Thibault|
|2017||2017||East||3rd||18||16||.529||Won First Round (Dallas, 1-0)
Won Second Round (New York, 1-0)
Lost WNBA Semifinals (Minnesota, 0-3)
|2018||2018||East||2nd||22||12||.647||Clinched First Round Bye
Won Second Round (Los Angeles, 1-0)
Won WNBA Semifinals (Atlanta, 3-2)
Lost WNBA Finals (Seattle, 0-3)
|Regular season||295||407||.420||1 Conference Championships|
|Playoffs||12||26||.316||0 WNBA Championships|
|Nationality||Name||Years pro||Last played||Drafted|
|Washington Mystics head coaches|
|Jim Lewis||December 29, 1997||July 24, 1998||1||2||16||.111||18||0||0||-||0|
|Cathy Parson||July 24, 1998||end of 1998||1||1||11||.083||12||0||0||-||0|
|Nancy Darsch||February 18, 1999||July 14, 2000||2||21||31||.392||52||0||0||-||0|
|Darrell Walker||July 14, 2000||end of 2000||1||5||7||.417||12||0||2||.000||2|
|Tom Maher||December 21, 2000||January 4, 2002||1||10||22||.313||32||0||0||-||0|
|Marianne Stanley||April 5, 2002||January 21, 2004||2||26||40||.394||66||3||2||.600||5|
|Michael Adams||February 17, 2004||April 15, 2005||1||17||17||.500||34||1||2||.333||3|
|Richie Adubato||April 21, 2005||June 1, 2007||3||34||38||.472||72||0||2||.000||2|
|Tree Rollins||June 1, 2007||July 19, 2008||2||24||28||.462||52||0||0||-||0|
|Jessie Kenlaw||July 19, 2008||end of 2008||1||2||10||.167||12||0||0||-||0|
|Julie Plank||November 6, 2008||November 1, 2010||2||38||30||.559||68||0||4||.000||4|
|Trudi Lacey||November 1, 2010||September 24, 2012||2||11||57||.162||68||0||0||-||0|
|Mike Thibault||December 18, 2012||Current||6||104||100||.510||170||8||14||.364||22|
Some Mystics games are broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBCS-DC), a local television station for Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. NBA TV usually picks up the feed from the local broadcast, which is shown nationally. Broadcasters for Mystics games are Frank Hanrahan and Christy Winters Scott.
All games (excluding blackout games, which are available on ESPN3.com) are broadcast to the WNBA LiveAccess game feeds on the league website. Furthermore, some Mystics games are broadcast nationally on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. The WNBA has reached an eight-year agreement with ESPN, which will pay right fees to the Mystics, as well as other teams in the league.
|Regular season all-time attendance|
|Year||Average||High||Low||Sellouts||Total for year||WNBA game average|
The new official Mystics colors are red (pms 186), navy (pms 289), silver (pms 877) and white and are more aligned with the Mystics' parent company, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, overall brand.
In 2011, the Mystics announced new team colors (red, blue, & silver) which continues to be a part of the uniform identity today.