WNBA, “Happy 20th Birthday”

At the beginning of this year’s WNBA season the league unveiled a new logo to commemorate its 20th season. The logo release was accompanied by a new promo spot titled “Watch Me Work,” which features stars Maya Moore, Sue Bird, Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi, Skylar Diggins and Candace Parker as they train for a monumental year in the WNBA.

On June 21, 1997, Los Angeles hosted New York at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California, in the first game in WNBA history, a 67-57 Liberty victory.

20 years later the Lakers aren’t playing in the Forum and it has been torn down and the LA Rams and proposing a new stadium in Inglewood.

How many WNBA games have you attended? 20 or 1 each season? 10? 5? Don’t tell me you have never taken the time to watch some of the best female athletes in the World?

Since 1997, the WNBA has grown from “We Got Next” to the best women’s professional basketball league in the world. And now, the WNBA is turning 20.

The WNBA started with an unusual looking ball and a slogan that many joked, but the WNBA was a chance for women to play pro ball in the US, for fans to see a game grow in all aspects. Over the 20 years the WNBA has seen financial realities, usually low attendance, international competition for women basketball players and the constant comparison to men. The WNBA has survived! You may have forgotten that women’s basketball was once played on half court. Now it’s played end to end-and meridian to meridian and all credit can be given to the WBNA. The WNBA has brightened the future for all female athletes worldwide.

On WNBA Draft night Breanna Stewart was the toast of the sports world, but in a league that struggles for relevance. Breanna (whom I featured in a recent article in Champagne and Beyond) was the 1st pick in the WNBA for the Seattle Storm. If this was any other major sport the #1 draft pick would become the face of the league, carry it to new heights and awaken demographics that have gone untouched for two decades. That’s not how it goes in the WNBA and hasn’t for any of the #1 picks that have come before Breanna. From Tina Thompson to Candace Parker to Diana Taurasi. On the court they have lived up to the hype, winning every award and championship available. None of it has provided enough traction to give the league a significant boost in attendance, revenue or TV ratings.

In the NBA, the Draft is about hope for a franchise. In the WNBA it’s not just about whether the pick is going to make the team better, it’s about whether the player can make the league better. The 2015 season saw a record attendance low of 7,318 fans per game and TV viewership dipped.

The WNBA new president, Lisa Borders will tackle in 2016, and she’ll look for opportunities almost anymore. “We feel that we have bright, shining stars,” Borders says. “But that doesn’t mean they’re the total solution for what has been happening.

If you haven’t had a slice of the WNBA, you need to go and support these ladies who are giving you a great product! Remember they are the best professional ballers in the world!

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