|2023 Atlanta Dream season|
|Arena||Gateway Center Arena|
|Location||College Park, Georgia|
|Team colors||Red, dark grey, light grey, light blue, white|
|Main sponsor||Emory Healthcare|
|General manager||Dan Padover|
|Head coach||Tanisha Wright|
|Conference titles||3 (2010, 2011, 2013)|
The Atlanta Dream are an American professional basketball team based in Atlanta, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). The team was founded for the 2008 WNBA season. The team is owned by real estate investors Larry Gottesdiener, Suzanne Abair and former Dream player Renee Montgomery. Although the Dream share the Atlanta market with the National Basketball Association's Hawks, the Dream is not affiliated with its NBA counterpart. The Dream play at the Gateway Center Arena in College Park, Georgia.
The Dream has qualified for the WNBA Playoffs in eight of its thirteen years in Atlanta and has reached the WNBA Finals three times. The franchise has been home to many high-quality players such as University of Louisville standouts Angel McCoughtry and Shoni Schimmel, former Finals MVP Betty Lennox, and Brazilian sharpshooter Izi Castro Marques. In 2010, the Dream went to the WNBA Finals but fell short to Seattle. They lost to the Minnesota Lynx in the 2011 and 2013 WNBA Finals.
Before the success of the United States women's basketball team in the 1996 Olympic Games, the American Basketball League had interest in placing a women's professional basketball team in Atlanta as early as 1995. Eight of the twelve Olympians played on ABL teams when the league began play in October 1996. The Atlanta Glory played at Forbes Arena and lasted two seasons before folding before the start of the 1998–99 season, which would be the ABL's final.
Atlanta had been mentioned as a possible future city for WNBA expansion, but efforts did not come together until the beginning of 2007 when an organizing committee with Atlanta businesswomen/men and politicians began the effort to attract an expansion team. The inability of the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA to draw crowds was a concern of the WNBA, and the committee kicked off an effort in February 2007 to gain volunteers and petition signatures. Philips Arena (now State Farm Arena), the Gwinnett Arena (now Infinite Energy Arena) and Alexander Memorial Coliseum (now McCamish Pavilion) were candidates for venues. By May 2007, the committee had over 1,000 pledges for season tickets, although the goal was 8,000 season tickets in ninety days. By July the committee had 1,200 commitments and began searching for an owner.
On October 16, 2007, it was reported that Ron Terwilliger, an Atlanta businessman and CEO of a national real estate company would be the future owner of an Atlanta franchise. The next day, at a news conference at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park, WNBA president Donna Orender made the announcement that Atlanta would officially be granted a WNBA expansion franchise.
On November 27, 2007, Atlanta named Marynell Meadors, a coach with extensive experience at the college level, the first head coach and general manager in franchise history. This was Meadors' second role as a coach/general manager in the WNBA following a stint with the Charlotte Sting. Afterwards, Meadors had served as a scouting director for the Miami Sol and had been an assistant coach under Richie Adubato and Tree Rollins for the Washington Mystics. Former NBA player Dennis Rodman volunteered his name as head coach for the Dream. Terwilliger declined, stating that he wanted someone with more coaching experience and he felt that the head coach should be a woman, as the WNBA was a women's league.
On December 5, 2007, an online contest was announced for people to vote on the team name and team colors, while the final choice rested with owner Ron Terwilliger. The names offered as choices were "Dream", "Flight", "Surge" and "Sizzle". On January 23, 2008, the team name was announced as the Dream, inspired by the famous speech of Atlanta native Martin Luther King Jr., and the team colors were sky blue, red, and white.
Atlanta held their expansion draft on February 6, 2008 when they selected one player from each of the 13 teams in the league. Atlanta traded Roneeka Hodges and their number four pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft to the Seattle Storm for Izi Castro Marques and Seattle's eighth pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft. Also, the Dream traded the 18th pick and LaToya Thomas to the Detroit Shock for Ivory Latta.
From May 17, 2008, with a season opening loss against the Connecticut Sun to July 3, 2008, with a home loss against the Houston Comets, the Dream lost 17 consecutive games, setting the WNBA all-time record for both consecutive losses and losses from opening day. The 2006 Chicago Sky had previously lost 13 consecutive games, and the 2002 Detroit Shock had opened their season 0–13. On July 5, the Dream earned their first win in Atlanta 91–84 against the Chicago Sky, ending the losing streak. They later finished with a 4–30 record.
Not wanting a repeat of 2008, head coach and general manager Marynell Meadors acquired players such as Sancho Lyttle, Nikki Teasley, Chamique Holdsclaw, Angel McCoughtry, and Michelle Snow in the 2008–2009 offseason. In 2009, Atlanta reached the playoffs at 18–16, exceeding their previous record by 14 wins, but lost in the first round to the 2008 champion Detroit Shock in a sweep. After the season, their coach, Marynell Meadors, was awarded the Coach of the Year Award.
The Dream's owner, Ron Terwilliger, announced in August that he wanted to give up his position as the primary owner of the Atlanta franchise. On October 29, 2009, Kathy Betty took control of the team under the business entity Dream Too, LLC.
The 2010 season saw further improvement, finishing in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Dream then made it through the first two rounds of the playoffs and secured a trip to the WNBA Finals with a win over the New York Liberty, as they swept New York in two games in the Eastern Conference Finals. They eventually faced the best team in the league, the 28–6 Seattle Storm. Seattle took the first two games at home with two close wins. Seattle completed the sweep and won the series in Atlanta. Even though they were swept, the Dream did not lose any game by a margin of more than three points.
Addressing arguably Atlanta's biggest concern, the team traded for All-Star point guard Lindsey Harding prior to the 2011 season. Despite the addition, the Dream struggled to open the season, starting with a 2–7 record due to an injury that sidelined Angel McCoughtry and overseas commitments by Sancho Lyttle. The team then went on a run of 14 wins and 5 losses after the All-Star break. They carried that momentum into the playoffs, sweeping the Connecticut Sun and defeating the Indiana Fever to return to the WNBA Finals. However, they lost to the 27–7 Minnesota Lynx in three games.
During the 2011 season, Betty sold Dream Too LLC to local investors Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler.
The Dream started the 2012 season with a 12–12 record and fired head coach and general manager Meadors during a dispute with league-leading scorer Angel McCoughtry. Meadors was replaced by Fred Williams, finished with a 19–15 record, and lost in the first round.
The following 2013 season, the team again made it to the WNBA Finals, and again were swept by the Lynx. Williams' contract was not renewed.
Michael Cooper was then hired for the 2014 season. He led the team to the playoffs in 2014 and 2016, but was fired after failing to make the playoffs in 2017.
On October 30, 2017, the Dream hired Nicki Collen as their new head coach. Collen came over to Atlanta after serving as an assistant coach for the Connecticut Sun. Collen helped the Dream finish first in the Eastern Conference in 2018, finishing with an 23-11 record. They ultimately ended up losing in the Semifinals that year.
2019 was a struggle for the Dream. Angel McCoughtry was still recovering from her ACL tear that occurred during the 2018 year. Tiffany Hayes and Brittney Sykes were bright spots – both averaging in double figures for the year. But that wasn't enough, the Dream finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference with a 8-26 record. With the WNBA's lottery system of 2-year combine records, the Dream had the worst shot at receiving the top pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft and they received the 4th Overall Pick.
On October 18, 2019, the Dream unveiled an updated logo and color scheme, the first change to their branding since the team's inception in 2008.
Star Angel McCoughtry announced that she wasn't going to return to the Dream in the 2020 season – choosing to sign with the Las Vegas Aces. This began the transformation of the new look Dream. Tiffany Hayes and Renee Montgomery announced that they would be sitting out the "bubble" season – leaving Elizabeth Williams as the only starter coming back from the last two seasons. The Dream selected young star guard Chennedy Carter in the 2020 WNBA Draft to start the rebuild.
The Dream played slightly better in 2020 compared to 2019, but still missed the playoffs with a 7-15 record and were the third worst team in the league. Shortly after the George Floyd protests began, the WNBA and player's union decided to put Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name slogans on warmup gear and opening weekend uniforms. By then, team owner Kelly Loeffler was a Republican U.S. Senator, and she criticized the league's support for Black Lives Matter. At the next game, Dream players wore black T-shirts with the slogan "VOTE WARNOCK," endorsing her election opponent Raphael Warnock, an African-American pastor who then defeated Loeffler. The player's union then demanded that Loeffler sell her stake in the team. A three-member investor group, including former Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery, were approved to purchase the team in February 2021.
Collen seemed excited for the upcoming 2021, but left the Dream to go to Baylor about a week before the season began. The Dream promoted Mike Petersen to interim head coach, but he stepped down on July 24 due to health reasons. Darius Taylor took over as interim coach through the end of the regular season.
Coaching changes weren't the only issue the Dream faced. Chennedy Carter was suspended on July 5, 2021, due to conduct detrimental to the team and never played again. The Dream's season once again put them at the bottom of the standings and missed the playoffs again. They went 8–24 during the year. Following the season, it was announced that Courtney Williams and Crystal Bradford would not be re-signed due to their roles in an altercation off the court. The league announced that they would be suspended for a couple games in the 2022 season.
The Dream and Carter could not work out their differences from the following season, and on February 5, 2022, the Dream traded her to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for Erica Wheeler and some draft picks.
Tasked with trying to turn the team around, the Dream hired Tanisha Wright as their new head coach on October 12, 2021. Wright had played in the league for 12 years and had most recently been an assistant under Bill Laimbeer of the Las Vegas Aces. Wright hired Christie Sides, Paul Goriss, and Barbara Turner to her staff in March of 2022.
The Dream also announced some new partners and sponsors for the upcoming season. Microsoft and Xbox were announced on April 5, 2022. The Dream also announced Emory Healthcare as the first-ever marquee jersey partner. The expanded partnership was put on display as the Emory Healthcare logo made its debut on the Dream’s jerseys during the 2022 season.
The Dream began looking for their next face of the franchise and acquire the 1st Overall Pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft from the Washington Mystics on April 6, 2022. They selected Rhyne Howard out of Kentucky as the 1st Overall Pick. Howard was a three-time AP All-America First Team selection, averaged 20.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a senior.
The Dream played at Philips Arena, now known as State Farm Arena, in downtown Atlanta, shared with the Atlanta Hawks from 2008 to 2016. In 2013, the team qualified for the WNBA Finals, but a scheduling conflict forced them to play home games at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, now known as Gas South Arena, in suburban Duluth. Due to renovations to Philips Arena during the Hawks' 2017 and 2018 offseasons, the Dream played home games at McCamish Pavilion on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The team returned to the renovated and renamed State Farm Arena for the 2019 season. Following the conclusion of the 2019 WNBA regular season, team officials indicated that the Dream would not be returning to State Farm Arena for the 2020 season, citing disagreements with the Hawks' management. The team announced on October 18, 2019, coinciding with their rebranding, they would move to the new Gateway Center Arena in nearby College Park for the 2020 season (later delayed to the 2021 season), sharing the arena with the Hawks' NBA G League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks.
|State Farm Arena||2019|
|Gateway Center Arena||2020–present|
|Season||Team||Conference||Regular season||Playoff Results||Head coach|
|2008||2008||East||7th||4||30||.118||Did not qualify||Marynell Meadors|
|2009||2009||East||2nd||18||16||.529||Lost Conference Semifinals (Detroit, 0–2)||Marynell Meadors|
|2010||2010||East||4th||19||15||.559||Won Conference Semifinals (Washington, 2–0)
Won Conference Finals (New York, 2–0)
Lost WNBA Finals (Seattle, 0–3)
|2011||2011||East||3rd||20||14||.588||Won Conference Semifinals (Connecticut, 2–0)
Won Conference Finals (Indiana, 2–1)
Lost WNBA Finals (Minnesota, 0–3)
|2012||2012||East||3rd||19||15||.559||Lost Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 1–2)||M. Meadors (12–12)|
F. Williams (7–3)
|2013||2013||East||2nd||17||17||.500||Won Conference Semifinals (Washington, 2–1)
Won Conference Finals (Indiana, 2–0)
Lost WNBA Finals (Minnesota, 0–3)
|2014||2014||East||1st||19||15||.559||Lost Conference Semifinals (Chicago, 1–2)||Michael Cooper|
|2015||2015||East||5th||15||19||.441||Did not qualify||Michael Cooper|
|2016||2016||East||4th||17||17||.500||Won First Round (Seattle, 1–0)
Lost Second Round (Chicago, 0–1)
|2017||2017||East||5th||12||22||.353||Did not qualify||Michael Cooper|
|2018||2018||East||1st||23||11||.676||Lost Conference Finals (Washington, 2–3)||Nicki Collen|
|2019||2019||East||6th||8||26||.235||Did not qualify||Nicki Collen|
|2020||2020||East||4th||7||15||.318||Did not qualify||Nicki Collen|
|2021||2021||East||5th||8||24||.250||Did not qualify||Mike Petersen (6–13)|
Darius Taylor (2–11)
|2022||2022||East||5th||14||22||.389||Did not qualify||Tanisha Wright|
|Regular season||220||278||.442||3 Conference Championships|
|Playoffs||17||21||.447||0 WNBA Championships|
WNBA roster page
|Nationality||Name||Years pro||Last played||Drafted|
|Marynell Meadors||November 27, 2007||August 27, 2012||5||73||87||.456||160||8||9||.471||17|
|Fred Williams||August 27, 2012||October 18, 2013||2||24||20||.545||44||5||6||.455||11|
|Michael Cooper||November 21, 2013||September 5, 2017||4||63||73||.463||136||2||3||.400||5|
|Nicki Collen||October 30, 2017||May 3, 2021||3||38||52||.422||90||2||3||.400||5|
|Mike Petersen (interim)||May 3, 2021||July 24, 2021||1||6||13||.316||19||0||0||–||0|
|Darius Taylor (interim)||July 24, 2021||October 12, 2021||1||2||11||.154||13||0||0||–||0|
|Tanisha Wright||October 12, 2021||present||1||14||22||.389||36||0||0||–||0|
|Atlanta Dream statistics|
Currently, some Dream games are broadcast on Bally Sports Southeast and Bally Sports South. All games (excluding blackout games, which are available on ESPN3.com) are broadcast to the WNBA LiveAccess game feeds on the league website. Furthermore, some Dream games are broadcast nationally on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. The WNBA has reached an eight-year agreement with ESPN, which will pay right fees to the Dream, as well as other teams in the league.
|Year||Average||High||Low||Sellouts||Total for year||WNBA game average|
|2020||Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season was played in Bradenton, Florida without fans.|