Blast From the Past: A Look at Defunct WNBA Teams

Davion Moore


The WNBA is in a great place. They held their draft on Monday,  April 15th, and welcomed in young stars like Caitlin Clark, Cameron Brink, Kamilla Cardoso and more. The players were a big topic that day (and rightfully so), but another thing that came up was expansion.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert discussed the league's plan to reach 16 teams by 2028. The WNBA is already headed to the Bay Area, as the announcement was made in October of last year. The Bay Area franchise (currently referred to as WNBA Golden State) is expected to start playing in the 2025 season. Engelbert also mentioned that the league is looking to bring in its 14th team by 2026. Cities like Nashville, Philadelphia, Denver, Toronto and Portland are teams in consideration. South Florida was also mentioned.

The WNBA's expansion would be great for the league, and as the league's expansion is more of a possibility than ever, it is the perfect time to take a trip down memory lane. Let's take a look at some of the teams of the past.



Charlotte Sting

The Charlotte Sting was a WNBA team located in Charlotte, NC. They were one of the original eight WNBA teams, and lasted from 1997 to 2007. In their first season, the Sting went 15-13. They lost to the Houston Comets in the WNBA Semifinals that year. Fast forward to 1999, the Sting drafted Dawn Staley with the ninth pick. Staley remains a household name in women's basketball, as she led the South Carolina Gamecocks to their third championship this year. Staley played with the Sting from 1999 to 2005.

The Sting made the playoffs the year they drafted Staley, but lost to the New York Liberty in the Conference Finals. The Sting missed the playoffs the following season with a record of 8-24. They bounced back the next season, and managed to reach the WNBA Finals. However, the Los Angeles Sparks won the series. The Sting made the playoffs two more times after their trip to the Finals, but missed the playoffs in their remaining seasons. They went 11-23 in their final season.



Cleveland Rockers

The Cleveland Rockers were a team based in Cleveland, OH. Like the Sting, the Rockers were one of the original eight teams of the league. They lasted from 1997 to 2003. The Rockers went 15-13 in their first season. The following season, they made the playoffs with a record of 20-10 (the best record in the East). They lost to the Phoenix Mercury in the semifinals. The Rockers missed the playoffs the next season with a record of 7-25. They went on to make the playoffs in three of their four seasons from 2000 to 2003. The Rockers were actually the only defunct WNBA team to make the playoffs in their final season. 



Houston Comets

The Houston Comets are one of the other original teams, and they had great success. The Comets were based in Houston, TX, and lasted from 1997 to 2008. The Comets were off to a great start in their first season, as they had players like Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson (who are all members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame). The Comets won four consecutive championships, which is a record that still stands today. Houston made the playoffs five more times before being disbanded. They missed the playoffs in their last season, but finished the season 17-17.


Sacramento Monarchs

The Sacramento Monarchs were a team located in Sacramento, CA. They played in the league from 1997 to 2009. They missed the playoffs in their first two seasons, but made it in 1999. They lost to the Sparks in the Conference Semifinals. The Monarchs went on to make the playoffs eight more times before disbanding, and won a championship in 2005. They went 12-22 in their final season.



The WNBA had two other teams at that time. The Portland Fire was in the league from 2000 to 2002. The Miami Sol was in the league from 2000 to 2002 as well. With those areas being in conversations for expansion once again, fans could see these teams (or a variation of them) back in the league somewhere down the line.

The WNBA is growing, and with expansion being in its future plans, more and more fans will come