History of the Dallas Wings


The Dallas Wings, a team with a profound legacy in the WNBA, began as the Detroit Shock in 1998. This transition through cities and names marks their evolution in women’s basketball. Initially one of the WNBA’s expansion teams, they quickly made a mark by winning multiple championships. The team’s journey from Detroit to Tulsa and finally to Dallas represents not just a change in location but also a growth in their fan base and an impact on the community. This piece explores the detailed history of the Dallas Wings, highlighting their key achievements, notable players, and unique traditions.

The Detroit Shock Era (1998-2009)

Brook McCartty of the Dallas Wings

Founded in 1998, the Detroit Shock was among the original WNBA expansion teams. Initially, the team struggled, only making the playoffs once in its first five seasons. Leadership changes were frequent, with Nancy Lieberman and Greg Williams serving as early coaches. However, the team’s fortunes transformed dramatically under coach Bill Laimbeer, a former NBA player, who took over in 2002. Under his guidance, the Shock quickly turned into a powerhouse.

In 2003, Detroit made an extraordinary leap from last place in the previous season to WNBA champions, marking one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the league. In the finals, they defeated the two-time defending champions, Los Angeles Sparks. This victory began a dominant era for the Shock, who returned to the WNBA Finals in 2006 and 2008, securing championships against the Sacramento Monarchs and the San Antonio Silver Stars, respectively.

Throughout their time in Detroit, the Shock was known for its tough, physical style of play and its deep roster that included stars like Deanna Nolan, Katie Smith, and Cheryl Ford. These players not only contributed significantly on the court but also helped to cultivate a strong fan base and establish the Shock as a staple of Detroit’s sports landscape.

The Tulsa Shock Era (2010-2015)

In 2010, the Shock’s narrative took a new turn as the team relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. This move was driven by a desire to establish a WNBA presence in a new market. Tulsa, eager to embrace professional women’s basketball, welcomed the Shock with open arms. However, the transition was not without its challenges.

The team struggled initially in Tulsa, facing several seasons at the bottom of the league standings. During this period, the Shock underwent numerous coaching changes, starting with Nolan Richardson, a renowned college coach known for his “40 Minutes of Hell” strategy. Unfortunately, his coaching style did not translate well to the WNBA, leading to disappointing results on the court.

Despite the on-court struggles, the team’s management worked tirelessly to rebuild and rebrand. In 2013, they drafted Skylar Diggins-Smith, a highly touted player from Notre Dame, who quickly became the face of the franchise. Her presence helped improve the team’s performance and brought new energy to the fans.

In 2015, the decision was made to move the team once again, this time to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. This move was part of a larger strategy to bring the team to a more robust sports market with a strong fan base and better facilities. WNBA league owners approved the relocation, and the team was renamed the Dallas Wings, marking a new chapter in the franchise’s history.

The Dallas Wings Era (2016-Present)

Aerial Powers of the Dallas Wings

In July 2015, the WNBA approved the relocation of the Tulsa Shock to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, heralding the start of the Dallas Wings era. The team officially became the Dallas Wings in 2016, setting up their home court at the College Park Center on the University of Texas at Arlington campus.

The move to Dallas brought a renewed focus on building a competitive team and deepening local community ties. The Wings aimed to leverage the vibrant sports culture of Texas and the strong support for women’s sports. The Dallas-Fort Worth area offered a larger market and better resources, factors that were expected to contribute to the team’s success both on and off the court.

Since their relocation, the Wings have strengthened their roster and competitive standing in the WNBA. Key players such as Skylar Diggins-Smith continued to play pivotal roles, and the team focused on drafting talented players like Arike Ogunbowale, who quickly became stars in their own right. Ogunbowale, for instance, has been a standout performer and a critical part of the team’s strategy.

Off the court, the Wings have engaged in various community outreach programs, emphasizing youth sports and empowerment. These initiatives reflect the team’s commitment to giving back to the community and growing their fan base.

The team’s logo, inspired by the Pegasus, symbolizes new beginnings and a connection to the Dallas Mavericks, sharing similar colors and themes. This branding strategy underscores the synergy between the two basketball franchises and enhances local support.

Notable Players of the Dallas Wings Franchise

Throughout its history, the Dallas Wings franchise (including its previous incarnations as the Detroit Shock and Tulsa Shock) has been home to several prominent players who have made significant contributions both on and off the court. Here’s a look at some of the most famous players from the team:

  • Deanna Nolan: Known for her explosive athleticism and scoring ability, Nolan was a key player for the Detroit Shock, helping the team secure three WNBA championships in 2003, 2006, and 2008.
  • Cheryl Ford: Ford was known for her dominance in rebounding and was a pivotal player during the Detroit Shock’s championship runs, earning WNBA Finals MVP honors in 2003.
  • Katie Smith: A legendary sharpshooter, Smith played a crucial role in the Shock’s success and was instrumental in the team’s championship victories. She is also a noted member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
  • Skylar Diggins-Smith: Starting with the Tulsa Shock and continuing with Dallas, Diggins-Smith has been a standout guard known for her scoring, leadership, and playmaking skills.
  • Liz Cambage: During her time with the Dallas Wings, Cambage set a WNBA record by scoring 53 points in a single game, showcasing her scoring prowess and impact on the court.
  • Arike Ogunbowale: As a newer member of the Dallas Wings, Ogunbowale has quickly established herself as a leading scorer in the WNBA and a key figure for the franchise moving forward.

Interesting Facts About the Dallas Wings

The Dallas Wings, like any team with a rich history, have their share of interesting anecdotes and lesser-known facts that add to their unique character:

  • The Dallas Wings logo features a Pegasus, drawing a symbolic connection to the Dallas Mavericks, whose logo also incorporates a horse. This design choice reflects a shared spirit and synergy between the city’s NBA and WNBA teams. The use of blue in the Wings’ logo further aligns with the Mavericks’ color scheme, strengthening the bond between the two franchises.
  • The Dallas Wings are deeply involved in their local community, particularly with initiatives to empower youth. They have programs designed to promote physical fitness and sportsmanship among children, enhancing their community presence and impact beyond the basketball court.
  • The team offers unique experiences for fans, especially for groups. Discounts are available for groups of ten or more, and there are opportunities like taking a post-game shot on the court, participating in the national anthem, or engaging in a high-five tunnel with players. These activities enhance the game-day experience and foster a stronger connection between the players and their supporters.
  • The Dallas Wings boast their own dance team called the Flight Deck, which includes both male and female performers. This team not only entertains during game breaks but also participates in community and promotional events, adding to the entertainment value of Wings games.
  • The franchise has a history of overcoming odds and achieving firsts. Notably, during their time as the Detroit Shock, they accomplished a rare feat by winning the WNBA championship in 2003, only a year after finishing last in the league. This turnaround is one of the most dramatic in sports history.


From its inception as the Detroit Shock to its current identity as the Dallas Wings, this franchise has shown resilience and adaptability, navigating changes and challenges with remarkable prowess.

The Dallas Wings’ commitment to excellence on and off the court and their rich history of overcoming adversities and celebrating triumphs make them a beloved team in the WNBA. As they continue to build their legacy, the Wings remain a symbol of strength, unity, and sportsmanship, inspiring fans and aspiring athletes alike.

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