In 1997, after a very long road, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was born. The San Antonio Silver Stars were one of the eight original teams that began the WNBA. However, they did not begin in San Antonio, nor were they originally the Silver Stars. Rather, at their inception the Silver Stars were based in Utah and were called the Starzz.
The name was meant to be a combination of Utah Stars (an old American Basketball Association team) and their NBA equivalent, the Utah Jazz. Unfortunately, the Utah Starzz did not meet with nearly as much success as either of the male teams formerly based in Utah.
For the first two years of their existence, the Utah Starzz finished their season as the worst in the WNBA. In 2000, they finally attained some wins and ended up with a winning season. However, they did not make it to the playoffs until 2001, where they were defeated in the first round by the Sacramento Monarchs. The next year, they were able to make it to the semi-finals of the Western Conference, but then were quickly shut down by Los Angeles Sparks, who won the tournament that year.
The Move to Texas
At the WNBA’s beginning, all the teams were owned by NBA franchises. However, by 2002, the NBA had stripped itself of all the WNBA franchises, and the Utah Jazz was no different. Because the Jazz did not preserve ownership of the Utah Starzz, the team was forced to find potential buyers. Finding none in the state of Utah, they had to look out of state, or would have to disband the team.
The Starzz franchise was finally sold to Peter Holt, who also owns the San Antonio Spurs franchise. This prompted the relocation of the Utah Stars to San Antonio, where their name was immediately changed to the Silver Stars. Holt also changed their uniform colors to the same black and silver used by the Spurs.
The newly named Silver Stars had another rough beginning in San Antonio. They made some trades which greatly affected their roster, and had three losing seasons. By 2006, their record in San Antonio was 41 total wins to 88 total losses.
A Glorious Comeback
In spite of a somewhat checkered past, the San Antonio Silver Stars were finally able to prove themselves in 2007. WNBA stars Becky Hammon, Helen Darling, Sandora Irving, Camille Little, Erin Buescher and Ruth Riley all joined the team, giving the team the real talent they needed to make a splash in the WNBA. That year, they made it to the playoffs for the first time since the team’s transfer to San Antonio.
In the Western Conference Finals, they faced the number one seed, the Phoenix Mercury. With 2 seconds left in the game, it was tied at 100, with a foul called on the Silver Stars’ Shannon Crossley, sending the Mercury’s CappiePondexter to the free throw line, ending the Stars’ playoff appearances for that year.
In 2008, the Stars had an excellent season, securing the number one seed in the playoffs. They made it all the way to the WNBA semi-finals, but lost to the Detroit Shock.