Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Former Bruin Meyers Joins Suns, Mercury Staff

By Bob Baum
The Associated Press

Basketball Hall of Famer Ann Meyers has been coaxed away from her successful broadcast career to become general manager of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and vice president of the NBA's Phoenix Suns.

"I have been pursued the last 10 years by the league and different teams, but it just was not the right timing," Meyers said at a news conference Tuesday. "I'm looking for the challenge. I'm looking to be with a winner."

Meyers, widow of the late Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale, will oversee a Mercury team that features all-stars Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter. Under first-year coach Paul Westhead, Phoenix used a late-season surge to finish 18-16 but missed out in the playoffs in a tiebreaker.

Although she is new on the job, Meyers said she already knows the Mercury's biggest need is for rebounding.

She will help with scouting with the Suns, but her exact duties with the men's team are still to be defined.

"My first priority is going to be the Mercury," Meyers said. "But the fact I've been in basketball so long — my brother David played for the Bucks and I had the Pacer tryout — I've known people in basketball for as long as I can remember."

Owner Robert Sarver said Meyers was at the top of his list for a general manager to replace Seth Sulka, who resigned. Sarver said he decided, given her all-around basketball knowledge and contacts, she should be part of the men's operation as well.

"Ann's got a tremendous amount of contacts and connections within basketball in the men's area," Sarver said, "the ability to pick up the phone and talk to coaches, things like that. That resource is really huge for us."

The 51-year-old Meyers was the first woman to receive a full athletic scholarship at UCLA. She was a four-time All American and led the Bruins to the national championship in 1978. Meyers also competed in volleyball and track and field at UCLA.

Meyers made the U.S. national team while still in high school and, in 1979, earned a silver medal as part of the first women's U.S. Olympic basketball team. She was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Meyers' brother David played with Bill Walton on two NCAA championship teams at UCLA and played four seasons with Milwaukee. In 1979, Meyers became the first woman to sign as a free agent with an NBA team, trying out with the Indiana Pacers, then staying with the team as a broadcaster following her release.

She has worked as a television sportscaster for ESPN, NBC and CBS. She recently won the Ronald Reagan Media Award from U.S. Sports Academy. She has three children, ages 19, 17 and 13.

Meyers was asked if she would ever want to be a men's general manager — a post held by Suns coach Mike D'Antonio.

"Don always said you never close the door on anything," she said. "But I hadn't thought about it. I've been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, and I certainly think that that is the case here, but right now my focus is the Phoenix Mercury.

"If that was something to happen down the road, you know, to me there's always possibilities in one's life — but right now my focus is with the Phoenix Mercury."



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