Early CBA in hand is, uh, Dream come true

DURHAM, N.C. -- Tennessee coach Pat Summitt hadn't heard about it yet Monday night. The players for Tennessee and Duke -- most particularly, one who looks to be the No. 1 draft pick in April, Candace Parker (if she leaves "early" as expected) -- weren't thinking of it.

But on the same day these two programs put on a display of how exciting and fun women's basketball can be to watch, the WNBA announced it had reached agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement with the players' union.

This CBA didn't go down to the wire like last time, nor was it expected to. Still, most of us surely breathed a sigh of relief that it was done in January, not April. Nobody on either side needed to be playing a game of chicken.

Closer to the WNBA season, I'll take a more detailed look at the new CBA and what it means in more specific terms for both the immediate and long-term future. For now, the biggest issue is simply that it's done.

There's an old saying that three-quarters of life -- or maybe more than that -- is just showing up. There's a lot of truth to that. Never mind the naysayers and pessimists. The WNBA makes its "statement" season after season just by continuing to exist.

How big of a dent is it putting in the general sports world's conscience? Not very big, but that isn't what the league is really about. At least not now. The WNBA is still in its foundation years, still figuring out where this enterprise works and where it doesn't and -- just as important -- why.

To that end, the most recent city to give it a try is Atlanta, which had an ABL team and has been host to the Women's Final Four twice.

Last week, the expansion franchise officially announced its nickname -- "Dream" -- and red and sky blue color scheme. The Dream gives headline writers a new play-on-words opportunity, which will become old about the third week of the season, if not sooner.

Dream's second half a nightmare … Dream wake up, rally … Dream haunt foe … She plays like a Dream.

And it's not like I won't stoop to goofing off with "Dream" myself. Already, I thought that maybe they should have "Therapy Night" -- fans get two tickets for the price of one if they bring their therapist to the game -- when the Dream meet the Shock.

Team owner Ron Terwilliger spoke last week about how much "Dream" represented the spirit of Atlanta -- mentioning Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1996 Summer Olympics -- but at the time he didn't know how soon we'd find out who was going to be representing the Dream on the court.

Now, we know the expansion draft will be Feb. 6, and Dream coach and general manager Marynell Meadors -- a veteran in the league -- said that Atlanta has done its homework and is ready to pick.

"I think it's such a rewarding situation for me," Meadors said of her opportunity with the Dream. "Atlanta is so supportive; it's a great city. There are a lot of expectations here."

And with the CBA done, the Dream and the 13 other teams can really start maneuvering.

Mechelle Voepel of The Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. She can be reached at mvoepel123@yahoo.com.