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1998-2009 Detroit Shock

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Nancy Lieberman Detroit ShockWomen’s National Basketball Association (1998-2009)

Born: 1998 – WNBA expansion franchise.
Moved: October 20, 2009 (Tulsa Shock)

Arena: The Palace of Auburn Hills (11,268)

Team Colors:

  • Black, Red, Teal & Yellow
  • 2003: Red, White & Blue

Owner/Operator: William Davidson


The Detroit Shock were three-time champions of the Women’s National Basketball Association during the team’s 12-season voyage in Detroit.  The Shock joined the WNBA as an expansion team during the league’s second season in the summer of 1998 and were operated by the management of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.

Hall-of-Fame player Nancy Lieberman was the Shock’s first Head Coach, leading the team for three seasons, including a playoff appearance in 1999.   Lieberman’s tenure unraveled in locker room mutiny and scandal at the end of the 2000 season.  Several Shock players charged that their 42-year old married coach was conducting a relatively open affair with a 25-year old rookie point guard named Anna DeForge, whom Lieberman plucked from the obscurity of an open tryout and quickly elevated to a position in the starting line-up.  DeForge’s perceived lack of ability was at issue, as several Shock players felt that DeForge’s was overmatched in the WNBA and her playing time was due solely to her special relationship with Lieberman.  Sports Illustrated revealed the details in a long feature about coach-player relationships a year later in September 2001.  By then Lieberman was long gone, let go by the Shock at the end of that contentious 2000 season.  The rumors of the affair were never fully substantiated but there was no doubt that Lieberman had lost the locker room.

Detroit ShockAn interesting post-script to the Lieberman-DeForge controversy.  Anna DeForge was out of the WNBA for the 2001 and 2002 seasons, which seemed to support the allegations of at least a few Shock players who thought she was overmatched and undeserving of the playing time Lieberman gave her during the 2000 season.  But in 2003, DeForge earned a spot on the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and later developed into a WNBA All-Star, earning that selection in 2004 and again in 2007.  DeForge finished her pro career back with the Shock during the team’s final season in Detroit in 2009.

The Shock’s fortunes turned after the team hired former Detroit Pistons star Bill Laimbeer as Head Coach midway through a grim 2002 season.  The team was 0-10 when Laimbeer took the reigns.  They improved immediately but still finished with the worst record in the WNBA at 9-23.

The following season, the Shock went from worst to first, finishing with the WNBA’s best record at 25-9.  In the league championship series, the Shock defeated the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Sparks to claim the first of three WNBA titles on Laimbeer’s watch.  More than 22,000 fans were on hand for the decisive victory at the Palace (see video below).

The Shock would also win WNBA championships in 2006 and 2008.  In 2007, the Shock also made the finals, but lost in five games to the Phoenix Mercury.

Team owner Palace Sports & Entertainment gave up on the Shock at end of the 2009 season after 12 WNBA campaigns.  The franchise was sold and relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma in October 2009 and is now known as the Tulsa Shock.



The Shock defeat the Los Angeles Sparks for their first WNBA title in 2003.

2009 WNBA All Access with the Detroit Shock


WNBA Media Guides

WNBA Game Programs




December 5, 1980 – Dallas Diamonds vs. New Jersey Gems

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Dallas Diamonds vs. New Jersey Gems
December 5, 1980
Moody Coliseum
Attendance: 2,217


This is a really awesome find that comes to FWIL courtesy of Tom Davis, a former assistant coach from the Houston Angels and Dallas Diamonds of the Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981).  Tom has shared his files for the Diamonds 1980-81 season home opener against the New Jersey Gems.  Scroll to the bottom for the some fascinating downloads.

What’s special about this game is that it was the pro debut for two future members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame – Nancy Lieberman of the Diamonds and Carol Blazejowski of the Gems.  The struggling league was counting on the duo to breathe renewed life into the organization (after the similarly hyped Ann Meyers failed to do so the previous season).  Although they were both just rookies, Lieberman and Blazejowski were far and away the two highest paid players in the WPBL.

Only 2,217 fans showed up at Moody Coliseum on the campus of Southern Methodist University to see the pro debut of the Diamonds’ new superstar.  Perhaps they were justifiably skeptical.  Dallas finished in dead last place  at 7-28 the previous season without Lieberman.  As the season went on, Diamonds’ crowds grew and occasionally topped 6,000.

Carol Blazejowski was the game’s high scorer, netting 24 points on 8-22 shooting from the floor, plus a perfect 8-for-8 from the stripe.  Nancy Lieberman was nearly identical, pacing the Diamonds with 21 points.  She was 8-20 shooting and hit 5 out of 6 from the line.  Dallas took the night though, winning 102-87 thanks largely to a 34-16 run in the 2nd quarter.

The two teams would meet again in the WPBL playoff semi-finals the following spring, with Dallas coming out on top in the Best-of-3 series.  The Diamonds later lost to the Nebraska Wranglers in the league championship series in April 1981.  Those were the final games in the league’s short history.  It folded later in 1981.

The death of the WPBL ended Carol Blazejowski’s pro career after just one season.   She entered the Hall of Fame in 1994 on the strength of her legendary amateur career.  Nancy Lieberman continued to find places to play sporadically through the 1980’s and 1990’s, including a brief and ill-fated revival of the Dallas Diamonds in 1984, a stint in the men’s United States Basketball League in the mid-1980’s and finally a valedictory appearance in the first year of the WNBA in 1997 as the league’s oldest player at age 39.  By that time, “Lady Magic” was already a Hall-of-Famer, having joined Blazejowski there in the 1996 induction class.

Diamonds coach Tom Davis squirreled away the official scorer’s reports, line-up cards and press releases from this game some 30+ years ago.  You can view and download them all here…



December 5, 1980 Dallas Diamonds Game Notes

December 5, 1980 Dallas Diamonds vs. New Jersey Gems Lineup Card

December 5, 1980 Dallas Diamonds vs. New Jersey Gems Official Scorer’s Report



Written by AC

August 9th, 2013 at 3:25 pm

1979-1984 Dallas Diamonds

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Women’s Professional Basketball League (1979-1981)
Women’s American Basketball Association (1984)

Born: 1979 – WPBL expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1981 – The WPBL ceases operations.

Revived: 1984 – WABA founding franchise.
Dead Again: December 1984 – The WABA ceases operations.


Team Colors: Blue & Silver




This is really a  page for two separate but closely linked teams called the Dallas Diamonds.  The original Diamonds were an expansion franchise during the second season of the pioneering Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981).  Owner Judson Phillips, a Dallas-area McDonald’s franchisee, expected to lose $100,000 over three years of operations.  Instead he lost it in the first two months.  In January 1980, Phillips called a press conference to fold the team, but a local real estate executive named Michael Staver stepped in to save the franchise.

The Diamonds experienced their greatest success under Staver, moving from the obscure Dallas Convention Center to SMU’s Moody Coliseum and signing the biggest star of the women’s game in that era, Nancy Lieberman, as a rookie for the 1980-81 season.  With Lieberman on board, the Diamonds advanced to the 1981 WPBL Championship Series, where they lost to the Nebraska Wranglers.  However, the original WPBL never played another game.  The league shut down after Lieberman’s rookie season.

WPBL founder Bill Byrne came back with a new women’s league in 1984, hoping to get a boost from the anticipated strong performance of the U.S. women in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.  The U.S. would compete against weak competition thanks to the Soviet bloc boycott.  The American women held up their end of the bargain winning Olympic gold.  But the Byrne’s Women’s American Basketball Association was badly under-capitalized and most of the Olympians chose to return to their far more stable overseas clubs rather than try their luck in a shaky looking domestic league.

The Diamonds were the only WPBL team to be revived three seasons later for the WABA.  Lieberman returned, as did Head Coach Greg Williams.  Moody Coliseum was the home arena again.  However, Staver was gone.  The new owner was Ed Dubaj, a Memphis-based NFL agent who managed the business affairs for a half dozen Dallas Cowboys players, including starting quarterback Danny White.  Unlike his rivals, Dubaj managed to sign the best players in the women’s game to join his team.  He started by re-signing Lieberman and then coaxed twin sisters Pam and Paula McGee from the University of Southern California to sign with the club.  Pam won Olympic gold with the U.S. women that summer and was one of the few Olympic team stars to actually join the WABA.

It’s strange to say that a league that lasted about eight weeks had a “best team”, but the Dallas Diamonds were clearly the class of the WABA, finishing the league’s abbreviated season with a 19-2 mark.

WABA cities began dropping out of the league even before the season began in October 1984.  By late November, it was all but over.  Bill Byrne was forced out by the disgruntled owners (as he had been in the WPBL) and Dubaj assumed leadership of the league.  The remainder of the season was cancelled and a hastily schedule championship game was played sometime in early December 1984, with the Diamonds defeating the Chicago Spirit.  Dubaj spoke of reorganizing for a second season in 1985, but the league was never heard from again.


==Diamonds Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1979-80 12/4/1979 vs. Minnesota Fillies L 102-91 Program
1980-81 12/5/1980 vs. New Jersey Gems W 102-87 Game Notes Scorer's Report
1984 11/27/1984 vs. Chicago Spirit ?? Scorecard


==In Memoriam==

Former Diamonds owner Ed Dubaj passed away in November 2012 at the age of 72.



In 2011, former WPBL and WABA star “Machine Gun” Molly Bolin posted this rare cable TV footage of a 1984 game between the Dallas Diamonds and her Columbus Minks on her Youtube page.



1984 WABA Media Guide (complete .PDF)

1984 Dallas Diamonds Season Ticket Brochure



Women’s Professional Basketball League Media Guides

Women’s Professional Basketball League Programs

Women’s American Basketball Association Programs





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