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Posted at 6:57 PM ET, 11/ 1/2010

Transcript of Sheila Johnson's conference call with reporters

By Kathy Orton

Here is a partial transcript of the conference call Sheila Johnson, Mystics president and managing partner, held with reporters to announce the hiring of Trudi Lacey as the team's general manager and coach:

"For anybody who has had any doubts about Trudi, she is just an amazing woman who's really going to be terrific in the community at large, and she also brings just a wealth of experience in coaching."

"Across the league, a lot of the teams are starting to move into this model [of having one person hold the general manager and coach positions]. You have to understand we have been in a recession and it is really hurting all teams across the board. We have budget constraints now."

[Note: Six of the 12 WNBA teams have the same person serving as coach and general manager. Hat tip to Mel Greenberg, Womhoops Guru.]

"This is about business. . . . We're trying to put the best foot forward in our front office in order to make everything work, but we also have to keep the team on the floor. We have to keep the business model alive. . . . This is a decision that we needed to make."

"We had to make some cost changes. Even though we were successful on the floor, you have to understand, we weren't successful on the business side. We just have to make these changes in order to keep the franchise alive."

"My job as a partner in all of this is that I really have to present to my partners as president and managing partner of the Mystics. I present a budget to them. We've got to do some cost cutting."

[on assistant coach Marianne Stanley] "We can't discuss that, but you'll see her. . . . We've made her an offer. We're just waiting to hear back from her."

[Asked if the fans should have been kept informed;] "We just came to this decision about 48 hours ago. It's not appropriate to sit up there and let our fans know every little move we're making. That is not good business. It is not appropriate. And the fans, I hope at this point, are going to trust in us and trust in me in our decisions. We're doing the best that we can to make the Mystics a solid and viable franchise."

"Julie [Plank] was adamant about not wanting to carry the general manager role, and we tried and I tried, but she just did not want to do it. And I will tell you I wanted to keep her, but we had to consolidate these positions once we couldn't get to an agreement."

[The inability to reach an agreement with Angela Taylor led the Mystics to want to consolidate the general manager and coach positions?] "Yes. . . . We wanted to keep Angela but we just couldn't get to a decision with her on how she wanted to move forward."

[But had you kept Taylor, you would have kept the positions separate?] "We had to cut the amount of [Taylor's] contract. We had to bring it down a little bit and that's where things, you know. . . . We offered Angela a contract. Not the one she's usually with, and she didn't want it. So then I went to Julie. I offered her both the GM and coaching role, and she didn't want to do it. So to make a long story short, we got Trudi as coach and general manager. It's as simple as that."

[Can Trudi Lacey help the Mystics win?] "With anybody, I don't care who you bring in, even if we had Michael Jordan as the coach, everything is a crap shoot. You're going to try the best you can. I know she has the ability to do it. . . . I even checked with my ex-husband who owned the Bobcats. I called him and I said, 'What do you think?' He just raved about her. Even my own son, who knows Trudi and has watched her coach the [Charlotte] Sting. They were thrilled."

"I have a lot of pride in owning the Mystics. I adore this job I have as president and managing partner and believe me I don't like failure. I think she's going to do a great job, and she's going to have all the support from Monumental Sports and Entertainment."

"I have not talked with any of the players, but I think that everyone, they're going to make the adjustment. We're all very excited about our new season. I don't think we should take this too deep. It's business. It is what it is, and this is the way we're moving forward."

By Kathy Orton  | November 1, 2010; 6:57 PM ET
 
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Comments

For an organization that, in the past, I loved for its customer service, this is really disappointing. Sheila's comment about it not being "appropriate to sit up there and let our fans know every little move we're making. That is not good business," smacks of arrogance. If we as fans are going to invest our hard-earned dollars into your organization, I think we have a right to know why the best GM and coach combo in the team's history after the two best seasons ever are now gone. The fans are angry and this, "It's our choice" attitude is not good. Hopefully, a year from now we'll look back at this and laugh, but I have my doubts.

Posted by: stwasm | November 2, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I said it when Sheila Johnson got the team; ask ANYBODY around Marshall, Virginia, about Sheila Johnson's management style. She makes Danny Snyder look like Captain Kangaroo.

Posted by: Gunga2009 | November 2, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Gunga, do tell.

Posted by: stwasm | November 2, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree with the arrogance of the statements; geez either you're going to have a WNBA team or your not - all of these vailed threats about keeping the franchise viable or losing it are getting a bit old. You cannot, under any circumstances allow both the best GM and coaching tandem in the dismal history of the Mystics franchise to walk and they say of the new GM/Coach's chances of success 'It's a crap-shoot'. Really? I guess it'll be a crap-shoot as to whether Alana Beard wants to waste anymore of her career here with this franchise. Her contract is up (I believe) after next season. I'd hate (personally) for her to leave, but I would be happy for her if she did and landed with a team with a commitment to winning (just like Swin Cash did with Seattle).

Posted by: guisher | November 2, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, at least she was honest enough to say that she can't afford to run the team like it should be run. Most owners who feel that way try to camouflage the bare facts.

Anyway, the Mystics had a rare business model going of building a winner for the future, thinking two and three years down the road. Most GMs just try to put an interesting product out there year by year. If Trudi keeps the orientation of building toward a winner, this frugality move could pay off. It will take extraordinary dedication to compensate for the loss of two talented Mystics leaders in Plank and Taylor.

Posted by: EdDC | November 4, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

as a long suffering fan of the mystics, i can only shake my head and wonder if my heart can handle going back to the usual losing seasons we've had. i get that the team didn't make the kind of money dr johnson wanted but wow, what a let down after all the great plays we got to enjoy last season.

now i'm wondering if katie smith will return. what she did for this team in one season can't be said in words.

To Coach Plank: THANK YOU!

Posted by: kinseyjames | November 4, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

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