I was saddened to learn today that former Utah Starzz center Margo Dydek had passed away at age 37, the result of a heart attack she suffered a week ago.
She, like the Starzz, was gone too soon.
I know that might sound trite or disingenuous. The Women’s National Basketball Association isn’t everyone’s favorite sport. But I liked it. Not so much because of the basketball. It was slower and sloppier than the NBA game. But the players were happy to have jobs and almost unfailingly polite. It wasn’t the same as the grind of the NBA, where some players have a hard time hiding their dislike for the media and fans.
Dydek, who spoke several languages, always seemed friendly and soft spoken. She got suspended for throwing elbows when she played in Salt Lake, but it never seemed malicious. When everyone else’s face is even with your elbows, collisions happen.
She carried her 7-foot-2 frame quite gracefully, though she drew stares of astonishment whenever she went out in public. Seven-foot men will draw stares, but a 7-foot woman with an 85-inch wingspan is something else. Yet she humbly drove a Chevy Cavalier when she was with the Starzz. She always seemed to take the stares with good nature and was friendly with fans and generous with her autographs. In fact, she sometimes got in trouble with the public relations staff for agreeing to make appearances without checking with the team. Occasionally she would get double-booked.
The all-time WNBA blocks leader even thanked reporters for interviewing her.
Writing about the Starzz and Dydek is an assignment I miss. When the team left for San Antonio, it robbed me of several columns a year, in a time of the year (summer) when I was looking for good ideas. It also robbed me of future interviews with some good people. In my experience, Dydek was certainly one of them.