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updated: 9/19/2013 10:47 AM

Sky's winning ways rather intriguing

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  • Chicago Sky rookie Elena Delle Donne (11) will open the WNBA playoffs Friday against the Indiana Fever at Allstate Arena. Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince are the top three scorers for the Sky.

    Chicago Sky rookie Elena Delle Donne (11) will open the WNBA playoffs Friday against the Indiana Fever at Allstate Arena. Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince are the top three scorers for the Sky.
    Associated Press


It isn't exactly boffo news on the local sports landscape, but maybe you heard that the Sky plays its first WNBA playoff game Friday night against Indiana in Allstate Arena.

To be honest my own interest is surprising, though I'm not as much a compulsive fan as a curious follower. Even this is alarming enough for me to place a call to Vienna and my old buddy Dr. Otto Punt, the famed sports psychologist who has treated everyone from Cubs managers to reluctant White Sox fans to NBA point guards who decline invitations to play on surgically repaired knees.

The good doctor wanted to know whether I was calling as a friend, patient or journalist. All three, I said. He asked for the symptoms after I told him a strange sensation had invaded my being.

"I find myself intrigued by this women's basketball team called the Chicago Sky," I said.

Dr. Punt hung up, knowing I never before acknowledged that women's basketball even existed. I called back immediately and told his receptionist to tell him it's me again. She hung up.

The message was clear: Dr. Punt hadn't heard of a case this complicated and declined the challenge. I was on my own to figure out what was going on here.

Don't get me wrong: I'm only smitten, not bitten. I haven't attended a Sky game yet, though it'll be tempting to check out the playoff opener on TV.

My fascination with these athletes began early in the season when I found myself starting to browse for Sky news, which suddenly elevated the team into the category with boxing, auto racing and horse racing -- sports that aren't as appealing as the people who compete in them are.

For example, it has become difficult for me to watch boxers pound each other, but the fighters, corner men and promoters are compelling figures.

I don't have the attention span to watch an entire NASCAR race, but I like when afterward drivers feud, fuss and fight with each other in the pit area.

Handicapping horseraces is too complicated for my simple mind, but articles about jockeys and trainers make for fun features.

The Sky has become that sort of attraction for me. I couldn't control my interest if I wanted to, which I didn't.

The season became more like a summer novel than a screenplay, something more to read about in newspapers and on the Internet than to witness in person or on TV.

Without realizing it, I was involuntarily turning to stories, summaries and standings in the morning to see how the Sky was doing.

Can this franchise earn a postseason berth for the first time? How many rebounds did Sylvia Fowles record? Is there a better first name in sports than Epiphanny?

Heck, the Sky roster has a collection of names you generally find only in literature, from Epiphanny Prince to Swin Cash to Elena Delle Donne to Carolyn Swords to Courtney Vandersloot to head coach Pokey Chatman.

Well, the Sky did make the playoffs and Delle Donne evolved into not only a rookie-of-the-year favorite but into a league MVP candidate as well.

Look, I'm no different from any other sports enthusiast that loves a winner, and the Sky has become a winner with winning players intent on winning a championship.

No wonder a story this week reported that the Sky had the biggest attendance increase by percentage in the WNBA this season. So, yeah, I just might tune into Friday night's playoff if only to see all those stories, summaries and standings come to life.

If Dr. Otto Punt phones during the game, tell him I'm busy.

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