Basketball Wiki

The Washington Mystics are a professional women's basketball team in Washington, D.C. They were founded as a expansion team in 1998. They were named the "Mystics" because after the 1996-97 NBA Season, the Washington Bullets, changed their name to the Wizards because "Bullets" was a violent team name in Washington, D.C.

Franchise History

Franchise history

One of the first, one of the worst (1998–2004)


Logo from 1998-2010

The Washington Mystics were one of the first WNBA expansion franchises to be established. In 1998, their first season, went to a WNBA worst 3-27 record, but they were led by Olympian Nikki McCray. Although they did not make the playoffs that year, the team had high expectations after drafting University of Tennessee star Chamique Holdsclaw in 1999, which Washington improved, but failed to make the playoffs as they finished with a 12-20 record. Holdsclaw would lead the team to the playoffs in 2000, making the playoffs with a losing record of 14-18, losing to the New York Liberty in a first round sweep.

After being tied for the worst record in the WNBA in 2001 with a 10-22 record, coach Tom Maher and General Manager Melissa McFerrin both resigned. With the future of the franchise up in the air, Mystics assistant coach Marianne Stanley took over as head coach and with the duo of Holdsclaw and rookie guard Stacey Dales-Schuman, the Mystics made the playoffs in 2002 with a 17-15 record. They would sweep the Charlotte Sting in the first round, but lose to New York again in the Eastern Conference Finals 2 games to 1. In 2003, the Mystics would make a franchise second worst record in franchise history with a 9-25 record, dead last in the Eastern Conference.

Rumors of Holdsclaw being unhappy playing in Washington came to a head in 2004 when the Mystics star was sidelined with an unspecified ailment, later revealed to be a bout with depression. With their all-star out, rookie and Duke University standout Alana Beard led a depleted Mystics team to a surprising playoff appearance, the third playoff appearance in Mystics history. They finished the 2004 season at .500 (17-17), but lost in the first round to the Connecticut Sun in 3 games.

Changes in the organization (2005–2007)

The 2005 season saw deep changes in the Mystics organization. Former star Holdsclaw joined the Los Angeles Sparks and the team was sold by Washington Sports and Entertainment to Lincoln Holdings LLC, led by Ted Leonsis.[1] In 2005, the team finished the regular season with a win/loss record of 16-18 and failed to make the playoffs.

In 2006, the Mystics posted a 18-16 record thriving under star guard Alana Beard who was drafted in 2004. The Mystics entered the playoffs as the 4th seed. In the first round, Washington was ultimately swept by the Connecticut Sun, the first-seeded team in the East. This ended the 2006 season for the Mystics, who had started to see a glint of hope for their struggling franchise.

The Mystics finished with a 16-18 record in 2007. In a more competitive conference, the team was satisfied by its near-.500 finish. However, at the end of the season, the Mystics had an identical record as the New York Liberty. Since the Liberty won the regular season series against the Mystics, Washington lost the tiebreaker and was eliminated from playoff contention.

At the Bottom Yet Again (2008)

File:Crystal Langhorne WNBA.jpg

Crystal Langhorne

In 2008, the Mystics looked to build on their near-playoff appearance in a tough Eastern conference. They drafted Crystal Langhorne of Maryland with the 6th pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft. Plagues again by coaches problems, the Mystics fell to the bottom of the East again, finishing only in front of the expansion Atlanta team. The Mystics had gone through 10 coaches in 11 years of existence, the most in the WNBA. The Washington front office knew it needed to completely clean out the franchise if success was desired.

Changes, Part Two (2009–present)

During the 2008/2009 WNBA offseason, the Mystics released general manager Linda Hargrove (replaced by Angela Taylor) and interim coach Jessie Kenlaw (replaced by Julie Plank). Under the new general manager, underperforming players were waived as new players were signed. With the second pick in the Houston dispersal draft and the 2009 WNBA Draft, the Mystics selected Matee Ajavon and Marissa Coleman, respectively. The Mystics hoped to take advantage of the team changes and finally find consistency in their play.

By the time the season began, the Mystics surprisingly started 3-0. They went 13-18 since the first three games, but their 16-18 record was actually good enough to reach the playoffs. However, in their playoff comeback, the eventual conference champion Indiana Fever were too much for Washington to handle and the Mystics were swept in the first round, ending their season.

The Mystics had their best season ever in 2010. Led by Lindsey Harding, Katie Smith, and Crystal Langhorne, the Mystics took first place in the East with a record of 22-12. They were swept in the first round by the eventual Finals-contender Atlanta Dream.

Prior to the 2011 season, the Mystics made many controversial changes. Coming off their best season in franchise history, many had hoped the team would finally see some consistency; this was not the case. Harding and Smith were both traded away (to Atlanta and Seattle, respectively). Furthermore, general manager Angela Taylor and head coach Julie Plank were relieved of their duties, as Trudi Lacey was named to both positions in a decision seemingly related to cost-cutting. The questionable decisions came to fruition when the Mystics started the season 3-11.


  • 1998–2010: white with black and gold outlines at home, dark blue with black and gold outlines on the road.
  • 2011–present: white with red and blue outlines at home, red with white and blue outlines on the road. Both jerseys display the Inova Health System name on the front.


Washington Mystics

1998 || 6-24 || .200 ||

1999 || 15-17 || .469 ||

2000 || 20-12 || .625 ||
Won First Round || Washington 2, Cleveland 0
Won Conference Finals || Washington 2, New York 1
Won WNBA Finals || Washington 2, Houston 0

2001 || 29-3 || .906 ||
Won First Round || Washington 2, Miami 0
Won Conference Finals || Washington 2, New York 0
Won WNBA Finals || Washington 2, Los Angeles 1

2002 || 16-16 || .500 ||
Won First Round || Washington 2, Charlotte 1
Won Conference Finals || Washington 2, New York 1
Won WNBA Finals || Washington 2, Los Angeles 1

2003 || 21-13 || .618 ||
Won First Round || Washington 2, Charlotte 1
Won Conference Finals || Washington 2, Detroit 0
Won WNBA Finals || Washington 2, Los Angeles 0

2004 || 0-0 || .000 ||

Team Totals And Stats

Team record 107-85 .544

Playoff record: 21-5 .785

Playoff Appearences: (8) (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010)

Conference Titles: (None)

Championships: (None)



1998-2002 2004-present