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Conflicting Feelings on the Re-signing of Erika De Souza: Fan’s Perspective
The Atlanta Dream announced Thursday, March 8, 2012 that they have re-signed Center Erika de Souza to a multi-year deal. As an Atlanta Dream fan who wants to see his team go all the way in 2012, de Souza is an indispensable component of the starting five. Despite a good showing in Game 2 and 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals without de Souza, the Dream faltered in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals as they were exploited in the paint out-rebounded by the Minnesota Lynx 40-28.
Even so, de Souza's untimely departure has left Dream fans asking what if all offseason. Indeed, what if Erika de Souza said no to Team Brazil and played in Game 1? While I do believe the Minnesota Lynx were the better team, the fact remains that nobody will ever know how Game 1 would've turned out with de Souza and what the momentum of the series would've been like with a Dream win or a more competitive loss.
More absences are due to come from de Souza in 2012 during an Olympic year. The games begin July 28 and could go on until August 11, which depends on how far Team Brazil advances. However, most teams will have to endure similar losses from their top-tier players, and with the in-flux of foreign players in the league, midseason absences are just a part of WNBA reality.
An absence during a championship game is different. Perhaps de Souza was stuck in a tough scenario as Brazil threatened to not let de Souza play in the Olympics if she did not participate in the qualifying rounds. She chose who to give loyalty to and received no repercussion for it from the Dream.
In my opinion, de Souza's choice was inexcusable. More than likely Brazil's threat was idle, but even if it wasn't, the Dream have shown unwavering loyalty to her for four seasons. They stuck with her during her leg fracture in 2008, which could've easily derailed her career if they didn't bring her back. The following seasons they have given her a start in every game for the three seasons she has chosen to play in. The front office was not incredulous at all this offseason rewarding her with a multi-year contract. Such unrequited loyalty was not given by de Souza last October.
Despite all this, I know we need her. There aren't any equivalent replacements floating around free agency. The fact is that the Dream will not go far in 2012 without de Souza.
There probably won't be any grief over the return of de Souza from fans when she suits up for May 25's home opener against New York. If such an absence occurred in the NBA Finals, de Souza would be booed by fans the next season. That type of accountability has not been reached in the WNBA yet. Until then, there really shouldn't be any surprise on the lack of coverage by the national media despite the fact that the level of talent in this league is on par with any professional sports league in the country.
As a member of the southeast, Charles McGregor has been a fan of the Atlanta Dream since their inception into the WNBA.
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