Marynell Meadors was the Atlanta Dream's first head coach/general manager and led the Dream to one of sport's most amazing turnarounds, going from a dismal 4-30 2008 inaugural season to three straight playoff appearances and back-to-back Eastern Conference championships from 2010 to 2011.
Nevertheless, despite being in position to make their fourth straight playoff appearance, the Atlanta ownership team decided to hand Meadors her walking papers on August 27, 2012, after the latest problems handling eccentric superstar forward Angel McCoughtry.
As is expected, a lot of reporters and fans have been giving the ownership grief for firing Meadors in what appears to be an act of granting McCoughtry's wish. Whether or not that is the case, I believe that the time for Meadors to go has come. Meadors is a brilliant general manager who is able to sign players for very specific micro-roles and is one of the best head coaches in the league at managing an actual game. However, her problem with being a disciplinarian may have cost the Dream a WNBA championship last season and nearly imploded the team this year.
Last year, Sancho Lyttle and Erika de Souza left during the 2011 season to play in tournaments overseas. Lyttle left in the middle of the season for six games to participate in a tournament with Spain. When she returned, she had back issues and was "suspended" for six more games although she wasn't able to play anyway.
Erika de Souza left at an even more crucial part of the year, departing during Game 2 and 3 of the Eastern Conference championship and Game 1 of the WNBA Finals to go join Team Brazil in the qualifying rounds of the Olympics. The WNBA doesn't allow players under contract to leave in the middle of the season or postseason unless the management of the player's team allows her to do so. No repercussions were handed to Souza for leaving, and she was rewarded in the offseason with a multi-year contract.
Flash forward to this season, and we have another issue with a player under contract not wanting to play. Superstar McCoughtry missed six games before the Olympic break for non-injury related issues and continued her hiatus after the break reluctant to play in all the games before Meadors's dismissal, citing the need to "get herself together." After Meadors' last game as coach in an 84-74 loss on August 25, against the Minnesota Lynx, Meadors grew irritated with reporters asking if McCoughtry didn't start because she was injured, saying, "She played the game tonight. I guess she is (healthy). She wouldn't be in the game is she was not, OK? All I can say is that she played tonight."
A lot of analysts feel new head coach/general manager Fred Williams will be the doormat McCoughtry has been looking for. However, Williams' first order of business after taking the job was to hand McCoughtry an indefinite suspension for her conduct. Meadors had plenty of opportunities this season and in previous seasons to discipline McCoughtry for her outlandish behavior, yet Meadors never criticized McCoughtry's actions. Williams has already done more to discipline McCoughtry than Meadors has in the last three seasons since McCoughtry joined the team.
Too bad the Dream ownership couldn't work out a deal keeping Meadors as just the general manager because there probably isn't a better franchise architect in the league. Nevertheless, Meadors's method of handling player issues was not conducive to a healthy team environment. I wouldn't be surprised if she not only finds work but also thrives in her next position. However, she'll still need to learn how to be an effective disciplinarian if she plans on taking her next team all the way to the top prize. I'm sure all Dream fans are thankful for what she has done for the team and wish her the best.
As a resident of the southeast, Charles McGregor has been a fan of the Dream since their inception.
- Sports & Recreation
- Marynell Meadors
- Angel McCoughtry