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Are the Sun a bigger rival for the Mystics than the Aces?

I predictably got some pushback saying that the Las Vegas Aces were positioned to be the 2019 WNBA champions’ biggest rival. But I’m not backing out of that position.

2019 WNBA Finals - Game Five
Yes, the Connecticut Sun are a rival for the Washington Mystics. I just don’t think that they’re necessarily “public enemy number one.”
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Last week, I wrote that the Las Vegas Aces were in best position to be the Washington Mystics’ arch rival. The two teams have had a complicated history in the last couple seasons and met in last year’s WNBA semifinals. Vegas center Liz Cambage picked a bone with Emma Meesseman and LaToya Sanders and didn’t mind popping Emma in the head while she was at it.

But I got pushback on social media about that position. Here are some of the responses.

I didn’t mean to say that the Sun were NOT a rival of the Mystics. I just don’t think they were Washington’s TOP rival considering beef with Cambage, etc.

But regardless, here are some reasons why the Sun can still make a case that they are best positioned to be Washington’s top rival in the long term.

  • Mike Thibault was the Sun’s long-time head coach — Before he came to Washington for the 2013 season, Thibault was the Sun’s bench leader from 2003-12 where he led them to two Eastern Conference championships in 2004 and 2005.
  • The Sun turned a backup power forward in D.C. into a multi-time All-Star — The Mystics drafted Asjha Jones No. 4 overall in 2002 where she was a backup to Chamique Holdsclaw for two seasons. Eventually the Thibault-coached Sun traded for her where she would be a two-time All-Star and be part of the team’s two Finals appearances in 2004-05. Ouch!
  • The Mystics faced the Sun in their first championship run, and the Sun were just ten minutes away from winning it all in 2019 — Connecticut led 64-62 to begin the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the 2019 WNBA Finals. Yes, the Mystics won and the home atmosphere fueled it. But what if things went the other way? That certainly fuels the “what if” going on in Sun fans’ minds right now.
  • The Sun are also an Eastern Conference team — Geography is an important thing in many rivalries. Las Vegas is close to the other side of the USA, while Connecticut is a day drive away.

There can certainly be many more reasons why the Sun can be the Mystics’ biggest rival, though these weren’t enough to convince me that they would overtake the Aces, even with Cambage sitting out the 2020 WNBA season due to coronavirus concerns. But do you think the Sun is a better fit as the Mystics’ arch rival than the Aces? Let us know in the comments below.et us know in the comments below.