Sacramento Monarchs (WNBA): Folded But Not Forgotten

By: Sports Teller


Why did the Sacramento Monarchs Suddenly Fold? What did the Monarchs Roster Look Like? Sacramento Monarchs (WNBA): Folded But Not Forgotten!

Hello Everyone! Welcome to Sports Teller! Today, we will be going over the Sacramento Monarchs (WNBA): Folded But Not Forgotten! In fact, we will be going over the history of the Sacramento Monarchs.

Defunct WNBA Teams: Cleveland Rockers, Miami Sol, Portland Fire, Houston Comets, and Charlotte Sting! Without further adieu, let’s begin!

Sacramento Monarchs (WNBA): Folded But Not Forgotten

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The Birth of the Sacramento Monarchs and First Game in Team History

When the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was formed in 1997, the Sacramento Monarchs were one of the original teams to begin play. The other clubs that began play are the following: Phoenix Mercury, New York Liberty, Los Angeles Sparks, Houston Comets, Utah Starzz, Cleveland Rockers, and Charlotte Sting. The Monarchs played their first game in club history on June 21, 1997 with a 73-61 win on the road vs. Utah. Several days later, Sacramento celebrated its first home victory 78-70 vs. Charlotte. The Sacramento Monarchs spent all of their existence playing home games at the Arco Arena. Also, Sacramento played in the West Conference.

The Creation of the WNBA’s North Cal Team: Sacramento Monarchs

Monarchs Select the 1st Draft Picks in Team History

Along with the rest of the original teams, the Sacramento Monarchs took part in the WNBA’s Inaugural Draft in 1997. Sacramento selected Guard Ruthie Bolton as the 13th overall pick (out of Auburn) in the draft. Later in the same draft system, the Monarchs would select Forward Bridgette Gordon as the 14th overall pick (out of Tennessee). Later in the year, the league held a college draft as the Sacramento Monarchs selected Center Pamela McGee as the 2nd overall pick in the 1st round (out of USC).

Success in the Playoffs, Plus a Championship

The Sacramento Monarchs made the playoffs nine times in their 12-year history. In fact, they played in the WNBA Finals twice (2005 & 2006) and appeared in the Western Conference Finals five times (2001, 2003-2006). The most successful season for the franchise was in 2005 when Sacramento claimed its only WNBA Championship by defeating the Connecticut Sun in four games.

Who was the Sacramento Monarchs’ Owner?

The Maloof Family (Business Entrepreneurs) was the Monarchs’ owner in addition to the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. The 2000’s decade turned out to be a successful decade for the Maloofs as the Monarchs made multiple postseason appearances in addition to the Kings playing in the 2002 West Finals.

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Sacramento Monarchs Superstars to Remember

Yolanda Griffith-Center

  • 14.6 Points per Game, 8.2 Rebounds per Game, 1.5 Assists per Game with Team
  • Played for Sacramento from 1999 to 2007
  • 2005 WNBA Champion & Finals MVP
  • 1999 WNBA MVP
  • 8-Time WNBA All-Star
  • Won WNBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1999
  • Went on to Win 2 WNBA Titles with Detroit Shock in 2003 & 2006
  • 2003 WNBA Finals MVP & WNBA All-Star in 2005

Nicole Powell-Forward

  • 12.7 Points per Game, 4.7 Rebounds per Game, 1.8 Assists per Game with Team
  • Led Monarchs to 2005 WNBA Championship
  • Played for Sacramento Monarchs from 2005 to 2009
  • WNBA All-Star in 2009
  • Won the League’s Most Improved Player Award
  • Head Coach for UC Riverside Women’s Basketball (2020-Present)

Ruthie Bolton-Guard

  • 9.9 Points per Game, 3.1 Rebounds per Game, 1.6 Assists per Game with Team
  • Spent Entire Career with Sacramento (1997-2004)
  • 2-Time WNBA All-Star in 1999 & 2001
  • Won Two Olympic Gold Medals in 1996 (Atlanta) and 2000 (Sydney)

Ticha Penicheiro-Guard

  • 6.4 Points per Game, 3.4 Rebounds per Game, 6.0 Assists per Game with Team
  • Played for Sacramento Monarchs from 1998 to 2009
  • Won WNBA Title with Team in 2005
  • 4-Time WNBA All-Star from 1999 to 2002

John Whisenant-Head Coach

  • Coached the Sacramento Monarchs (2003-2006, 2009)
  • Only Head Coach in Franchise History to Guide Monarchs to WNBA Finals
  • Compiled an 85-54 record with team; 19-10 in Playoffs
  • Led the Sol to 4 WNBA Playoff Appearances (2003-2006) & 2 WNBA Finals (2005 & 2006)
  • Guided Sacramento to 2005 WNBA Championship
  • Won WNBA Coach of the Year in 2005
  • Went on to Coach the New York Liberty from 2011 until 2012

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Here’s What Led to the Demise of the Sacramento Monarchs

Maloof Family Loses Interest in WNBA Franchise

With the Sacramento Monarchs succeeding in the playoffs during their time, why would they suddenly fold? After the team’s 2009 season concluded, things have turned into an unexpected turn for the Sacramento WNBA franchise. According to the Associated Press, the Maloof Family and the management group (Maloof Sports & Entertainment) realize that they didn’t have enough money to control both the Monarchs and the Kings.

The Sacramento Monarchs are Dethroned: WNBA Team Decides to Fold

Due to the possibility of financial concerns resulting from the mid-2000’s economic recession, the ownership had no choice but to fold the Sacramento Kings. The folding took place in late 2009 after the WNBA franchise lasted twelve years (1997-2009). Via the East Bay Times, the WNBA attempted to relocate the Monarchs to the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area at Oracle Arena. However, no local ownership was found and the Monarchs were done! The Maloofs and the management decided it was best to focus contributions to the Sacramento Kings rather than manage on the NBA club as well as the WNBA franchise.

The Monarchs compiled a 224-200 regular season record as well as a 24-19 record in the playoffs. The Sacramento Monarchs, as of now, are the most recent WNBA franchise to cease operations. In fact, the Monarchs are one of the couple WNBA teams that folded after winning a WNBA Title (Houston Comets). In addition, Sacramento is not the only West Coast WNBA team to cease operations. The Portland Fire (Oregon) folded in the early 2000’s after only lasting three seasons.

When was the Monarchs’ final game? What happened to the Sacramento Monarchs Players?

The final game in the history of the Sacramento Monarchs took place on September 13, 2009 with Sacramento winning at home vs. Minnesota Lynx 88-66. As a result of the club ceasing operations, the players were eventually sent to other teams in the WNBA via dispersal draft.

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The Aftermath of the Sacramento Monarchs Becoming Extinct

Since the Monarchs ceased operations, a lot of things occurred since then. In 2013, the Maloof Family sold the Sacramento Kings to TIBCO Software Founder Vivek Ranadive. A couple years later, the new ownership opened a new arena in Downtown Sacramento called Golden 1 Center. Unfortunately, since the Monarchs folded, the Kings have not had much success on the court. As of now, the Kings have not been to the NBA Playoffs Since 2006 (which is the longest active postseason drought in the league). Meanwhile, former Monarchs coach John Whisenant ended up coaching the New York Liberty for two seasons (2011-2012).

Will the WNBA Return to Sacramento One Day?

As of now, there are currently no discussions on whether the WNBA plans to expand. Based on the Monarchs’ successful history, it appears that the resurrection of the Sacramento WNBA team would be possible. Perhaps the reason Sacramento has a higher chance of landing a WNBA team one day is due to the support from local authorities as well as the NBA.

Who’s Interested in a Future Sacramento WNBA Franchise?

Kings Owner Vivek Ranadive expressed interest in brining the WNBA to the Golden 1 Center during the interview with the Sacramento Bee. In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, then-Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said that the city was looking into the possibility of getting a future WNBA franchise. In addition, Golden State Warriors President Rick Wells showed interest in landing a WNBA team in San Francisco once Chase Center was finished. Due to the support and interest in a future WNBA Franchise out west, it appears that the team would play in the North Cal area one day. Whether its Sacramento or San Francisco!

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