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A WNBA team, part of the league's first expansion in 1998. They are one of the worst teams in the WNBA, but their dreadful on-court play has been eclipsed by scandal. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, as it were.

First, let's talk about basketball. The Shock suck. Since a 17-13 finish in their first season, the Shock's record has worsened every year — 15-17 (1999), 14-18 (2000), 10-22 (2001). They keep on losing their star players: Rebounder Cindy Brown retired after injuries and Jennifer Azzi was traded to the Utah Starzz in the 2000 preseason. Edwina Brown is probably the only "name" player left, and she ain't much of a name. This team won't crack the playoffs for a while.

Now, onto the scandal: In September of 2001, Sports Illustrated reported that Shock players were quite upset about a romantic relationship between coach Nancy Lieberman and point guard Anna DeForge during the 2000 season.

Lieberman was dismissed as coach in the 2000-01 offseason, and it's quite likely that the rumored relationship caused that. According to SI, other players on the team complained to Shock president Tom Wilson that the relationship was unprofessional. Even worse was the fact that DeForge wasn't a very good point guard yet continued to start. (Azzi, the player traded in the 2000 preseason, was a tremendous point guard.)

I don't know if Lieberman and DeForge were actually dating, but in this situation, you're guilty by suspicion. A coach has to be above the reproach of her players, or else there's mutiny. Given that there have been out-of-the-closet lesbians in professional basketball, it's not appropriate for a coach to live with her point guard for a month, as Lieberman admitted to doing. (She also said that there was no sex going on, which isn't entirely believable.)

Anyway ... Lieberman's gone and DeForge is gone. But the Shock still stink.

6/19/2002 update: Lieberman's replacement, Greg Williams, was fired after starting the 2002 season 0-10. The new coach is former Detroit Piston NBA player Bill Laimbeer.

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Editor's note: The Shock won the WNBA title in 2003, 2006 and 2008, then moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma and became the Tulsa Shock in 2009.

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