For sure, this time of the year, NBA fans are left without their usual fix of action and of drama. The off season had left us on a high with the Summer League hype and the interesting trades. However, with all that done, somehow, reading feature articles about the past season and the projections for the next (oh, throw in their watching NBA highlights on Youtube) just doesn’t seem enough.
Fortunately, we still have the WNBA.
Yes, probably not many subscribe to the Women’s National Basketball Association as much as they do the male counterpart, but that doesn’t undermine the fact that it’s as exhilarating and remarkable as it can get.
Now rolling in its 21st season, the WNBA has had its share of breakthroughs and historical moments that have inspired and held its audience in awe.
Officially launched in 1997, the WNBA welcomed its first champions in the Houston Comets, led by its Season and Finals MVP, Cynthia Cooper. They would go on to be build a dynasty that would claim the next three championships with Cooper winning another Season MVP plum in 1998 and three more Finals MVP awards (1998 – 2000). Cooper is also an Olympic gold medalist and currently holds the All-Time record in points per game with 21.0 points in 124 career games. Joining Cooper in building Houston’s reputation were Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson, both of whom are legends in their own right.
Swoopes, aside from being a four-time WNBA champion, holds the distinction of being a six-time WNBA All-Star, three-time WNBA MVP, and three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. Thompson, on the other hand, was the Number 1 Overall pick of Houston in the first-ever WNBA draft. She went on to play for the Comets for 12 seasons before moving to the Los Angeles Sparks. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and is currently at Number Two in the All-Time Scoring leaders with 7488 points in 496 games.
Other WNBA legends include Lisa Leslie, who was the first player to get the All-Star MVP, Season MVP, and Finals MVP plums in one season (2001). She also is a four-time Olympic gold medalist (1998, 2000, 2004, and 2008); Lauren Jackson, who played for the Seattle Storm for 12 years and is a two-time WNBA champion (her career average is 18.9 points and 7.7 rebounds); and Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever, who finished her career with a WNBA title under her belt (2012), and multiple individual awards (2002 WNBA Rookie of the Year, 2011 WNBA MVP, 2012 WNBA Finals MVP, five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, and four-time Olympic gold medals). These are just a few names in the WNBA’s long list of great players and, with the league still in its prime, we can expect more players to be added.
Currently, the defending champions are the Los Angeles Sparks, who dethroned the Minnesota Lynx last year to clinch their third title, also their first since 2002. Candace Parker was named Finals MVP, after leading the team in the five-game Finals series with her 17.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.2 steals, and 2.0 blocks.
The Sparks are currently Number Two in the West and have already clinched a Playoff berth but Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx are poised for vengeance, topping the West and already in the semifinals.
As of now, leading the 2017 WNBA season in points are Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury (21.5), Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm (20.1), and Tina Charles of the New York Liberty (20.1). In the rebounding department, Jonquel Jones (Connecticut Sun) leads with 11.5 boards, while Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota) and Krystal Thomas (Washington Mystics) follow with 10.3 and 9.3, respectively.
While Courtney Vandersloot of the Chicago Sky leads in assists with 8.0 per game, with Layshia Clarendon following with 6.9, the spotlight is on two-time champion Sue Bird (Seattle), who, despite averaging 6.6 assists this season (good for third), is on her way to becoming the All-Time leader in assists. The 16-year veteran presently has 2588 career assists, 11 dimes behind current All-Time leader, Ticha Penicheiro. Bird is on track with four more games on Seattle’s schedule.
Today, the Phoenix Mercury (15 – 14) battle the Minnesota Lynx (22 – 6) while the eliminated San Antonio Stars (7 – 23) face the reigning Los Angeles Sparks (21 – 8).
Playoffs begin on September 7.
You can be a part of the growing fan base of the WNBA by tuning in to BTV! Catch the games live on Cignal Channel 95, Dream Cable Channel 34, GSAT Channel 36, and Cablelink Channel 60.
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