Shock celebrate second WNBA title in Motown
DETROIT -- The Detroit Shock are starting to feel right at home in downtown Detroit.
Three days after winning the WNBA championship in front of more than 19,000 at Joe Louis Arena, the team was honored at a rally in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue.
"The fans helped us win on Saturday, and they came out again today," said Shock captain Swin Cash. "It feels great."
Detroit beat Sacramento 80-75 after being displaced from its usual home, the Palace of Auburn Hills, because of a Mariah Carey concert.
Tuesday, they were back, as a couple of hundred fans braved rain to join Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and members of the Detroit City Council at the event.
"The Pistons and Wings didn't win and the Tigers are falling apart," said Janie Campbell of Detroit, who came to watch during her lunch hour. "The Shock won."
While All-Stars Cheryl Ford and Katie Smith missed the rally after joining the U.S. national team in Brazil, Cash was joined by coach Bill Laimbeer, finals MVP Deanna Nolan and players and coaches.
"I can't believe you all came out in this terrible weather," Nolan told the crowd while holding the championship trophy.
Cash presented Granholm with a Shock jersey, while Nolan and fellow starter Ruth Riley did the same for the Kilpatricks. A much bigger jersey was draped over the Spirit of Detroit statue.
"This is more than a championship for the city of Detroit -- this is a championship for the entire state of Michigan," Granholm said. "These ladies are role models for girls all over this state."
Kilpatrick, just hours after helping settle the Detroit teachers strike, agreed with the governor.
"We've had the Pistons and the Red Wings and now we have the Tigers, but it has been our ladies of the court that have won two championships for us," he said. "Girls in the neighborhood want to be like Swin or be like Ruth or be like Deanna."
At that point, Kilpatrick was interrupted by reserve forward Kara Braxton.
"What about me?" she asked the bemused mayor to the delight of her teammates.
After Kilpatrick figured out who Braxton was, he put his arm around her and paid the brash second-year player his ultimate compliment.
"You have got to be from the city of Detroit," he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
The mayor's mother presented the team with a proclamation from the U.S. House, and they received another from the Detroit City Council.
The crowd was nowhere near as big as the sellout at Joe Louis Arena for the Game 5 win over Sacramento, but Laimbeer wasn't complaining.
"This is at least as many fans as we had at our rally in 2003, and it wasn't raining that day," he said. "So I'm thrilled by this crowd."
For Cash, the title was her fifth major championship since 2000 -- two at Connecticut, two with the Shock, and a 2004 Olympic gold medal -- more than any other basketball player, male or female.
"It never gets old," she said. "This is all about 12 players coming together and winning a title. That's always special."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press