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updated: 3/8/2011 4:51 PM

Why Sky deserves asterisk for that blockbuster trade

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  • Phoenix forward Candice Dupree collected 8 rebounds and 32 points in her first WNBA playoff game Thursday against the San Antonio Silver Stars. The former Chicago Sky all-star was part of a three-team trade before the season.

      Phoenix forward Candice Dupree collected 8 rebounds and 32 points in her first WNBA playoff game Thursday against the San Antonio Silver Stars. The former Chicago Sky all-star was part of a three-team trade before the season.
    Associated Press


With the WNBA playoffs under way, it's easy to feel like the Chicago Sky got the short end of the stick in the blockbuster three-team trade that preceded the season.

I know that I feel that way. But with an asterisk.

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The Sky sent Candice Dupree to Phoenix, Phoenix sent Chicago native Cappie Pondexter to New York and New York sent Shameka Christon and Cathrine Kraayeveld to Chicago.

Dupree, the Sky's first-ever draft pick, scored a career-high 32 points Thursday to help the Mercury get a 106-93 win over San Antonio in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

For Dupree, who averaged nearly 16 points a game this season, it set a WNBA record for a player participating in her first playoff game.

Earlier Thursday, Pondexter had 28 points to help the Liberty turn back Indiana 85-73 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Thanks to Pondexter, who is averaging 21.4 points per game, New York was the toast of the league this season, winning 14 of its last 16 games, including 10 straight wins, to surge into the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Sky is done.

That's been the case since its last regular season game on Aug. 21, an uninspiring, 84-71 loss to a Tulsa team that won just 3 of its last 28 games.

That put the Sky at 14-20 for the season, and here's where that asterisk comes in.

While it's true that Cathrine Kraayeveld had a sub-par season, Christon didn't really have much of a season at all.

Christon, New York's leading scorer last year and a player who is being considered for a coveted spot on the U.S. national team, played in just 10 of the Sky's 34 games.

She started nine of them, but was knocked out in the June 11 game against Washington when teammate Sylvia Fowles unintentionally elbowed her in the eye while going for a rebound. Christon wound up with a concussion, a scratched cornea and a fractured orbital socket that took two surgeries and the rest of the season to heal.

There's no doubt in my mind that Christon would have made a difference for the Sky this year, perhaps enough to get to the playoffs.

So while the Liberty and the Mercury definitely get A's for their part in the blockbuster trade, the Sky gets an incomplete until next season when a healthy Christon returns.

On the diamond: Speaking of playoffs, the Chicago Bandits are surging ahead in their quest to win another National Pro Fastpitch title.

Thursday, Bandits ace Jennie Finch 1-hit Tennessee for a 2-0 win in the best-of-three semifinals in Sulphur, La.

The Bandits seem well equipped to win the whole thing. They dominated the postseason awards recently handed out by the league.

Third baseman Stacy May was named the league's most valuable player, and pitcher Nikki Nemitz was the league's rookie of the year.

Meanwhile, five Bandits made the all-NPF team, including catcher Rachel Folden, first baseman Samantha Findlay, outfielder Emily Friedman, Finch and May.

May and Folden also shared the home run trophy. They each had 12 homers this season to lead the league.

Finally, the Bandits coaching staff of Micky Dean, Mike Stuerwald and Maggie Johnson won the NPF's coaches of the year award.

Soccer push: In spite of their 5-11-6 mark on the season, the Chicago Red Stars are still in the Women's Professional Soccer playoff hunt.

The Red Stars have two games left and are trying to beat out Washington, which visits Toyota Park on Sept. 5 (5 p.m.), in a battle for the fourth and final spot.

The Red Stars' other remaining game is also at home, Wednesday (7 p.m.) against Philadelphia.

"It (a spot in the playoffs) doesn't look good," Red Stars coach Omid Namazi said recently. "But you know what? We'll fight to the end."

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