Houston Comets

Last updated
Houston Comets
Conference Western
Leagues WNBA
HistoryHouston Comets
Arena Compaq Center
Toyota Center
Reliant Arena
Location Houston, Texas
Team colorsFireball Red, Stardust Silver, White, Galaxy Blue
Championships4 (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000)
Conference titles3 (1998, 1999, 2000)

The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) team based in Houston. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. They are one of two teams in the WNBA that are undefeated in the WNBA Finals; the Seattle Storm are the other. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and are tied with the Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm for the most championships of any WNBA franchise. Despite all of their success, the team was folded and disbanded by the league in 2008 during the height of the Great Recession because new ownership could not be found. [1] [2] [3] [4]


The Comets were known for courting great women's basketball stars. The team had among its members Cynthia Cooper (the WNBA's first MVP); college and national team standout Sheryl Swoopes; Kim Perrot, who succumbed to cancer in 1999; and college stars Michelle Snow and Tina Thompson.

Franchise history

Building the first dynasty of the WNBA (1997–2000)

The Comets were one of the founding teams in the WNBA. They capped off the league's inaugural season in 1997 with a win over the New York Liberty in the WNBA championship game to win the WNBA's first championship.

When the league expanded the next season, the Comets were moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference. In 1998, they finished 27-3 – a .900 winning percentage, a WNBA record that still stands. They went on to repeat as champions, defeating the Phoenix Mercury in the first-ever WNBA Finals, which had become a three-game championship series.

In 1999, led by what was already known as the Big Three, (Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson), the Comets survived a stunning last-second, half-court, buzzer beater by the Liberty's Teresa Weatherspoon in Game 2 -- as it appeared the Comets were set to win the title -- to beat the Liberty in three games and win their third straight title, this one after the death of teammate Kim Perrot, who died of cancer.

In 2000, behind league MVP Sheryl Swoopes and eventual WNBA Finals MVP Cynthia Cooper, the Comets beat the Liberty again, this time in two games, to win their fourth straight title cementing themselves as the greatest WNBA team ever assembled. This was the Comets' last championship and last Finals appearance in franchise history.

The years of change and rebuilding (2001–2006)

After Cooper retired in 2001, Houston made the playoffs with a 19–13 record, but fell short of their 5th straight title, getting swept in the first round by the eventual champion Los Angeles Sparks. In 2002, with Swoopes out for the year with a torn ACL, the Comets still finished 24–8, but lost to the Utah Starzz in 3 games.

In 2003, they qualified to the playoffs for the 7th straight year, but they lost in the first round to the Sacramento Monarchs in 3 games. They missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history with a record of 13–21 in 2004, but returned in 2005 with a 19–15 record, finishing 3rd. In the first round, the Comets knocked out the 2004 defending champion Seattle Storm in 3 games, but lost in the conference finals to the Sacramento Monarchs in a sweep, which Sacramento later became WNBA Champions in 2005. Houston would return to the playoffs with an 18–16 record, but lost to the 2005 defending champion Sacramento Monarchs in another sweep. 2006 was the last playoff appearance for the Houston Comets.

After the Comets' season ended in 2006, the team went through a major front-office changes during the off-season. In October 2006, team owner Leslie Alexander -- who also owned the Houston Rockets -- announced he was selling the Comets, and longtime head coach Van Chancellor resigned in January 2007.

New ownership and a new home (2007)

On January 31, 2007, the WNBA Board of Governors approved the sale of the team to Hilton Koch, a Houston-based mattress and furniture businessman. Two weeks later, Comets assistant coach Karleen Thompson was named to become the team's new head coach and general manager for the 2007 season.

For the 2007 season, they would miss the playoffs for the second time in franchise history after starting the season 0-10, resulting in a 13–21 record.

On December 12, 2007, team owner Hilton Koch announced that the Comets would be moving from the Toyota Center to Reliant Arena for the 2008 WNBA season. [5] This resulted in a loss of fans. The Toyota Center drew 13,000 fans, but the Reliant Arena could only house 7,200. In 2008, the Comets' final year, they only drew an average 6,000 fans per game and sold out four games. [6]

End of the era (2008)

In 2008, Koch put the team up for sale, with an asking price of $10 million. No investors stepped up. The WNBA took over management of the Comets and disbanded the team in December 2008. [7] They stated that they would only be suspending operations in 2009, which some people saw as a sign that the franchise could be revived if an investor came in. Comets players were sent off to other teams in a dispersal draft. [8]

League president Donna Orender said that the collapse of the Comets was not a sign that the WNBA was in trouble. Cynthia Cooper said that the loss of the Comets was "disturbing news" and that the Comets were integral to the WNBA. [6]

The Comets played their final home game on September 15, 2008 at the Strahan Coliseum on the campus of Texas State due to Hurricane Ike. They defeated the Sacramento Monarchs 90–81. They finished the season 17-17 and missed the playoffs for the third time in their history. [6]

Season-by-season records

SeasonTeamConferenceRegular season Playoff Results Head coach
Houston Comets
1997 1997 East 1st1810.643Won WNBA Semifinal (Charlotte, 70–54)
Won WNBA Championship (New York, 65–51)
Van Chancellor
1998 1998 West 1st273.900Won WNBA Semifinals (Charlotte, 2–0)
Won WNBA Finals (Phoenix, 2–1)
Van Chancellor
1999 1999 West 1st266.813Won Conference Finals (Los Angeles, 2–1)
Won WNBA Finals (New York, 2–1)
Van Chancellor
2000 2000 West 2nd275.844Won Conference Semifinals (Sacramento, 2–0)
Won Conference Finals (Los Angeles, 2–0)
Won WNBA Finals (New York, 2–0)
Van Chancellor
2001 2001 West 4th1913.594Lost Conference Semifinals (Los Angeles, 0–2) Van Chancellor
2002 2002 West 2nd248.750Lost Conference Semifinals (Utah, 1–2) Van Chancellor
2003 2003 West 2nd2014.588Lost Conference Semifinals (Sacramento, 1–2) Van Chancellor
2004 2004 West 6th1321.382 Van Chancellor
2005 2005 West 3rd1915.559Won Conference Semifinals (Seattle, 2–1)
Lost Conference Finals (Sacramento, 0–2)
Van Chancellor
2006 2006 West 3rd1816.529Lost Conference Semifinals (Sacramento, 0–2) Van Chancellor
2007 2007 West 5th1321.382 Karleen Thompson
2008 2008 West 5th1717.500 Karleen Thompson
Regular Season241149.6184 Conference Championships
Playoffs2014.5884 WNBA Championships

Team owners

Players of note

Final roster

Houston Comets roster
G 1 Flag of the United States.svg Ajavon, Matee 5' 10" (1.78m)160 lb (73kg) Rutgers
G/F 00 Flag of the United States.svg Byears, Latasha 5' 11" (1.8m)206 lb (93kg) DePaul
G 20 Flag of the United States.svg Dixon, Tamecka 5' 9" (1.75m)148 lb (67kg) Kansas
G 15 Flag of the United States.svg Hodges, Roneeka 5' 11" (1.8m)165 lb (75kg) Florida State
G/F 17 Flag of the United States.svg Holmes, Sequoia 6' 1" (1.85m)155 lb (70kg) UNLV
G 41 Flag of the United States.svg Johnson, Shannon 5' 7" (1.7m)152 lb (69kg) South Carolina
F 21 Flag of Spain.svg Lyttle, Sancho 6' 4" (1.93m)175 lb (79kg) Houston
G 4 Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg Mabika, Mwadi 5' 11" (1.8m)165 lb (75kg) Democratic Republic of the Congo
G/F 99 Flag of Mali.svg Maïga-Ba, Hamchétou 6' 1" (1.85m)160 lb (73kg) Old Dominion
C 2 Flag of the United States.svg Snow, Michelle 6' 5" (1.96m)158 lb (72kg) Tennessee
F 7 Flag of the United States.svg Thompson, Tina 6' 2" (1.88m)178 lb (81kg) USC
G 5 Flag of the United States.svg White, Erica 5' 3" (1.6m)135 lb (61kg) LSU
F 8 Flag of the United States.svg Williams, Mistie 6' 3" (1.91m)184 lb (83kg) Duke
Head coach
  • Flag of the United States.svg Karleen Thompson (USC)
Assistant coaches
Athletic trainer
  • Flag of the United States.svg Courtney Watson
Strength and conditioning coach
  • Flag of the United States.svg Virgil Campbell

  • (C) Team captain
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • Cruz Roja.svg Injured

Retired numbers

Houston Comets retired numbers
10 Kim Perrot G 1997–98
14 Cynthia Cooper G 1997–2000, 2003

Former Comets

FIBA Hall of Fame

Houston Comets Hall of Famers
9 Janeth Arcain G 1997–2003, 20052019

Coaches and others

Head coaches:

General managers

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  1. Holmes, Baxter (December 30, 2009). "This time around, sports aren't recession-proof". The Los Angeles Times.
  2. Sandomir, Richard (2008-12-03). "W.N.B.A. Folds Its Houston Team Over Finances". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  3. Sandomir, Richard; Belson, Ken (2009-03-21). "In Economic Downturn, Corporate Ties Put Bind on Sports". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  4. Riper, Tom Van. "How The Economy Is Squeezing Sports". Forbes. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  5. Comets moving to Reliant from Houston Chronicle
  6. 1 2 3 Dial, Jenny. The Houston Chronicle. "WNBA TO SHUT DOWN COMETS :DISPERSAL DRAFT PLANNED FOR NEXT WEEK." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 2 Dec. 2008, E.2.
  7. Altavilla, John. "LEAGUE LOOKS AHEAD AFTER COMETS' DEMISE :WNBA." Hartford Courant [Hartford, Conn.] 5 Dec. 2008, B.3.
  8. Tim Lemke, THE WASHINGTON TIMES. "Comets just flamed out :Economic troubles cause WNBA team to close shop." Washington Times [Washington, D.C.] 3 Dec. 2008, C.2
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Inaugural Champions
WNBA Champions
1997 (First title)
1998 (Second title)
1999 (Third title)
2000 (Fourth title)
Succeeded by
WNBA Western Conference Champions
1998 (First title)
Co-Champions with Phoenix Mercury
1999 (Second title)
2000 (Third title)
Preceded by
Inaugural Champions
WNBA Eastern Conference Champions
1997 (First title)
Co-Champions with New York Liberty
Succeeded by
No Championship Awarded