This has been an emotionally exhausting few months for former Monarchs coach and general manager John Whisenant.
Just hours before a season-opening practice with the New York Liberty, the WNBA team he coached the past two seasons, he learned his wife, Joyce, had ovarian cancer and needed surgery. After taking a few days off, Whiz returned to the sidelines and once again guided the Liberty to a playoff berth.
A week ago, however, he was abruptly fired by new basketball operations director Allan Houston and replaced by former Detroit Pistons center and ex-Detroit Shock coach Bill Laimbeer.
"I don't know what happened," Whisenant said when reached at his home in Albuquerque, N.M. "Maybe I should have seen it coming when Scott O'Neill, the person who hired me, left MSG (Madison Square Garden) last month. But I thought our staff did a pretty good job. We reached the playoffs both seasons."
Whiz wasn't too dispirited, though. Earlier in the week, he said, test results revealed that Joyce was cancer-free.
"We'll try to get out to Sacramento sometime soon," Whiz said, adding with a chuckle: "You know how Joyce loves her basketball."
One interesting side note: Whisenant and Laimbeer struck up a cordial, if competitive, relationship during their previous WNBA coaching tenures Whiz with the now-defunct Monarchs and Laimbeer with the Shock when it was in Detroit. Laimbeer's team also defeated the defending WNBA champion Monarchs, preventing a Sacramento repeat in 2006.
What to watch
NBA, Kings at Indiana, 4 p.m., CSNCA: It's the Kings' third road game in four nights, but then they're home for 10 of the next 12.
Who will win the NBA championship?
Vote above or leave your comments in the comment field; or, go to www.sacbee.com/sports
How do you get your high school football fix?
Attend games: 32%
Through media: 33%
Word of mouth: 3%
Couldn't care less: 32%
Total votes: 130
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