Women’s National Basketball Association (2000-2002)
Founded: April 22, 1998 – WNBA expansion franchise.
Moved: January 28, 2003 (Connecticut Sun)
Arena: TD Waterhouse Centre (17,306)
Team Colors: Orange, Blue, Black and Silver
Owner/Operator: Rich DeVos
WNBA Championships: None
The Orlando Miracle joined the Women’s National Basketball Association as an expansion franchise for the league’s third season in the summer of 1999. At the time, all WNBA clubs were located in NBA markets and operated by NBA ownership groups. The DeVos family, owners of the NBA Orlando Magic, managed the Miracle, which shared similar colors, logos and mystical name with the men’s team.
The Miracle debuted at the TD Waterhouse Centre on July 10, 1999 against the WNBA defending champion Houston Comets. The inaugural game crowd of 15,422 would hold up as the Miracle’s franchise record through all four seasons of the club’s existence. The Miracle averaged 9,801 fans in 1999, which was good for sixth best in the 12-team WNBA. Interest waned in year two, with the team never drawing more above 10,000 for any of its games. By the Miracle’s fourth and final season in 2002, attendance dipped to 7,115 per game, placing Orlando 13th among the league’s 16 franchises.
On the court, the Miracle were mediocre, making the playoffs in only one of their four seasons. The team’s best season was in 2000 under former Purdue Head Coach Carolyn Peck. The team finished 16-16 and lost in the first round of the WNBA playoffs to the Cleveland Rockers. Shannon Johnson (pictured on the team’s 2000 media guide, above right), Nykesha Sales and Taj McWilliams were perennial league All-Stars for the Miracle.
In October 2002, the WNBA dismantled its single-entity structure, wherein the NBA backstopped the operation of each local franchise. The re-organization meant that non-NBA owners and non-NBA cities could enter the WNBA for the first time. But it also meant that the NBA ownership groups that operated the existing franchises needed to decide whether they would take on the full and independent ownership of the teams. NBA owners in Miami, Orlando, Portland and Utah decided to bow out of women’s basketball. On October 21, 2002, the WNBA announced that the Miracle would not return to Orlando in 2003.
On January 28, 2003 the WNBA announced the sale of the Miracle franchise to the Mohegan Native American Tribe, who would relocate the team to their Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. The new name of the team would be the Connecticut Sun. The Sun was the first WNBA team to be located in a non-NBA market or managed by a non-NBA ownership group.
Orlando Miracle Programs
Fan-made 2002 Orlando Miracle vs. Charlotte Sting game montage. With a soundtrack by Creed for some reason: