It really was all good until it wasn’t. I mean you win the championship and everything should go up from there, right?
For the Washington Mystics everything just went completely downhill and unfortunately it seems the D.C. sports curse has resurfaced in new fashion and is the one to blame.
Now, I know and completely understand that the D.C. sports curse was considered to be over since the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018, the Washington Nationals winning the World Series in 2019 and of course the Mystics in winning the WNBA championship in 2019. Something just feels like the curse snuck its way back in and it just won’t let up.
Despite perception, the Mystics have always been a team you just can’t count out no matter what. Prime example goes back to 2018 losing in the WNBA Finals to the Seattle Storm and then verbally stating they would be back and went on winning the 2019 championship.
So what exactly happened since then? Let’s bring down the last two years of the franchise:
2019 WNBA Season
- Mystics defeat the Connecticut Sun 3-2 to win their first WNBA championship
- No parade for the champs
- Rescheduled in the Spring 2020 due to several players leaving for overseas obligations. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this parade never happened. The closest thing they ever received was the postseason celebration at ESA just days after winning the championship.
2020 WNBA Season (“The Wubble”)
The 2020 season was postponed to later in the summer and reduced to 22 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also forced the entire WNBA season to be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida nicknamed “The Wubble” to provide a more secure atmosphere and no traveling.
- Mystics parade now canceled due to the COVID pandemic
- LaToya Sanders and Natasha Cloud opt out of the 2020 season
- Mystics lose Kristi Toliver and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough in free agency
- Acquired Tina Charles in offseason via a trade; medically exempt from the 2020 season
- Elena Delle Donne was denied a medical exemption; still was out the entire season
There were a total of five players who returned from the 2019 team: Ariel Atkins (the only returning starter), Emma Meesseman, Kiara Leslie, Aerial Powers and Tianna Hawkins. Washington had to make a lot of changes in their starting lineup rotations until something worked.
Things seemed to work enough to make the playoffs as an eighth seed even though Meesseman had a setback year and Powers was sidelined early due to injury. Roster changes had to be made where Shey Peddy was waived in August and the Phoenix Mercury picked her up.
What were the odds that the Mercury would be the team the Mystics had to play in a single-elimination game? Well, that’s what happened and not only did that happen, but Peddy shot the game-winning three-pointer to end the Mystics’ season.
2021 WNBA Season
This was the season where it seemed that Washington had no issues and everything would go smoothly. There were some wins and losses in free agency, but that’s normal...no biggie. But again for every uphill, there was a downhill to roll down. The worst feeling had to be the hope of a good season based on how 2020 went down.
- Mystics sign Alysha Clark in February and two months later she had a season-ending injury
- LaToya Sanders re-signs, but then retires a month later
- Aerial Powers doesn’t re-sign and goes to the Minnesota Lynx
- Emma Meesseman remained overseas for the Tokyo Olympics and chose to rest post-Olympics instead of returning to Washington for a playoff push. At this point, it’s unlikely that she will return to the Mystics because of salary cap reasons. But we’ll go over that in another piece.
- Elena Delle Donne’s timetable of return seemed really bleak due to a back injury.
- Her full contact practices didn’t seem to increase until after the Olympics
- Made her season debut on August 22 after 682 days scoring 16 points…
- She went on to play two more games and in the third game left early due to another back injury
- And ultimately, EDD never played again this season due to nerve pain.
- Mystics finished the season 12-20 and missed the playoffs
- Despite this, Washington controlled their playoff destiny. But they lost two opportunities to secure a playoff berth and lost both games (New York Liberty and Minnesota Lynx)
So after reading this mini-manifesto, can you agree it’s the curse or is this a team that’s had its ups and finally being dealt some downs? We’ll never truly know at this point. All that can be done is muster up the same hope from this past season and make sure it’s stronger than ever in 2022 and tell the injury gods to...STEP OFF!!!