This time, the timing was right. Ann Meyers Drysdale was pursued by the Mercury brass — notably Suns managing partner Robert Sarver — long before this offseason.
Meyers wasn’t ready to pull the trigger.
Earlier this month, Seth Sulka stepped down as Mercury general manager, and Suns ownership tried again.
Tuesday, Meyers Drysdale gave a proverbial thumbs up when she officially became the team’s new general manager, a process which took only two weeks after Sulka resigned.
In addition, the Hall of Fame player and former broadcaster will be a vice president with the Suns, doing scouting, corporate sponsorship and marketing.
Priority No. 1, however, is the Mercury.
And the playoffs.
“I’m looking to be with a winner,” she said while answering questions rather than asking them for the first time since 1979. “There’s no question there is a winner here.”
With some added rebounding and interior help to a nucleus of Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter, Kelly Miller and Penny Taylor, Meyers saw nothing short of the postseason — where the Mercury haven’t been since 2000 — and an eventual championship run.
Her boss is counting on it.
“It’s been six years since we’ve been to the playoffs. That’s not acceptable,” Sarver said. “I think this will help us get over the edge.”
A four-time All-American and national champion at UCLA, Meyers Drysdale won a silver medal for the first U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team in 1976. She was also the only woman signed by an NBA team when she landed a free-agent deal with the Indiana Pacers, but not long after became the team’s broadcast analyst.
She’s worked for either ABC, CBS, NBC or ESPN the past 28 years doing men’s and women’s basketball (pro and college), and the Olympics.
She first met Mercury coach Paul Westhead in the late 1980s while broadcasting two years of Loyola Marymount basketball games coached by Westhead. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999. She was married to Dodgers’ Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale until he died in 1993, and has two sons (Don Jr. and Darren) and a daughter (Drew).
She plans to keep her children enrolled in schools in California, and will gradually transition her life to Phoenix while working for the Mercury and Suns.
Meyers Drysdale said she spoke to Sulka on Monday night, and she plans to mold what previous management created. “Seth’s laid a great foundation,” she said. “I think I’m stepping into a very fortunate situation.”
Ann Meyers Drysdale file
Born:March 26, 1955
Playing Career:Four-time All-American at UCLA, 1978 national champion, also played volleyball and track and field; No. 1 pick in 1978 Women’s Basketball League; only woman player to sign a free-agent contract with NBA team (Indiana, 1979); won silver medal in 1976 Olympics; captain of 1979 gold medal team at Pan-Am Games; 1999 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee; first woman inducted into UCLA Sports Hall of Fame
Broadcasting career:Commentator for NBA, WNBA, NCAA men’s and women’s basketball, and Olympics since 1979
Children:2 sons (Don Jr., Darren), daughter (Drew)