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Op/Ed: The Home-Court Advantage of Mystics’ New Arena

Southeast D.C. Site, Now Hosting Part of WNBA Finals, Puts Focus on Community

By Kevin B. Blackistone

Alyssa Thomas shoots against Tianna Hawkins

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas, right, shoots against Washington Mystics forward Tianna Hawkins in the first half of Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday.

When the Washington Mystics defeated the Connecticut Sun in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday, they did so in front of a spirited crowd in their new home in Southeast Washington.

Entertainment and Sports Arena isn’t just a more intimate setting that allows for more palpable energy. It also further connects the Mystics to a part of D.C. where basketball is closely woven into the community, writes Kevin B. Blackistone, professor of the practice in UMD’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. In an op-ed in The Washington Post yesterday, he explored why the Mystics are worthy of playing in the Southeast D.C. neighborhood:

Late in the fourth quarter Sunday, after the Connecticut Sun chipped into what had been a comfortable double-digit lead for the Washington Mystics in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, Mystics forward Ariel Atkins danced with the basketball near the free throw line with the shot clock winding down. The move shook off her would-be defender, eliciting “ooohs” from the Mystics’ home fans. And then, off balance, Atkins dropped in a soft left-handed shot, which drew “aaaahs” from the stands.

The moment was significant not only because it helped stave off a brief fourth-quarter run by the Sun and sealed what became a 95-86 win in the first game of the best-of-five championship series, a series in which the Mystics didn’t win a game a year ago. But it also reminded of the connective tissue between this Southeast Washington neighborhood, where the Mystics’ new Entertainment and Sports Arena was planted earlier this year, and the game of basketball that has been one of the few things celebrated on this side of the Anacostia River but has been feared to be fraying.

Read the rest in The Washington Post.



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