To celebrate five seasons in Atlanta, the Dream is counting down its five greatest moments as a franchise on the court during those five seasons. Following the announcement of the top moment, fans will have their chance to vote for what they think has been the greatest moment in franchise history thus far.
We continue the countdown with Moment No. 3 the Dreams game in Manchester, England.
Moment No. 3 in the countdown is not celebrated because it was an important victory for the Dream, but because it was an important victory for the WNBA as a whole. On May 29, 2011, the Atlanta Dream participated in the first WNBA game ever to be played in Europe, as the Dream played the Standard Life Great Britain Womens basketball team in an exhibition game.
Although the game didnt count in the standings, it was a significant milestone for the league. With other professional sports leagues gaining increased exposure throughout Europe, it gave the WNBA a chance to showcase one of its top teams the Dream was coming off an appearance in the 2010 WNBA Finals in a continent where many of its players already played and were known during the offseason. The game was televised to a transatlantic audience and received substantial publicity for the Dream and the league.
The contest was also viewed as a major coup for the UK. It was an opportunity to promote womens basketball in England as momentum built towards the 2012 London Olympics, which would include the Great Britain womens team for the first time. It was also the first in a series of games to be played in Manchester, including games involving Team USA and a future NBA game, which would be a boon to the local economy.
Upon the announcement that the Great Britain squad would be involved in the game, the Manchester newspaper called it an historic clash, and Councillor Mike Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure in the UK, said, This is great for sports fans in Manchester, as we will welcome some of the greatest basketball players in the world to our city. The match will attract thousands of visitors to our city for an exceptional opportunity to see WNBA stars perform on this side of the Atlantic.
The game itself proved to be a mismatch, as the Dream cruised to an 82-51 victory, even without many of its best players. Angel McCoughtry missed the trip while resting a sprained knee, Erika de Souza was attending to personal matters in Brazil, and Sancho Lyttle and Iziane Castro Marques attended but did not play. Coco Miller led the nine Dream players who did compete with 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and Lindsey Harding also excelled in her Dream debut.
So in the end it was a win for everyone involved. All sides garnered positive publicity and media attention, the sport of womens basketball increased its global appeal, and the Dream players and coaches had a great experience playing in a foreign country. It was a big step for the WNBA, and for the Dream to be an integral part of that step was a moment to remember and to celebrate.