Women's National Basketball Association

Women's National Basketball Association
Enlarge picture
The WNBA logo parallels the NBA logo; red and blue featuring a woman holding a basketball
SportBasketball
Founded1996
Inaugural season1997
No. of teams14
Country(ies) United States
Most recent champion(s)Phoenix Mercury
TV partner(s)ABC, ESPN, NBA TV
Official websiteWNBA.com


The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) is an organization governing a professional basketball league for women in the United States. The league was formed in 1996 as the women's counterpart to the NBA. It features some of the greatest female basketball players in the world and is the longest-running and arguably most successful women’s professional team sports league in United States history. League play started in 1997 and the regular season is played from May to August with the playoffs starting in late August running into September.

Many WNBA teams have NBA counterparts and play in the same arena. The Connecticut Sun are the only team to play without sharing the city with an NBA team. The Chicago Sky are the only other WNBA team that does not share an arena with an NBA team. Also, the Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Houston Comets, Los Angeles Sparks, Phoenix Mercury, and the Washington Mystics are independently owned.

Organization

Regular Season

The league is divided into two conferences. As of 2007, there are 7 teams in the Eastern Conference and 7 teams in the Western Conference. Each team plays a 34-game regular season schedule, beginning in May and ending in late August. Every team plays four teams in their conference 4 times each and play the remaining 2 teams 3 times apiece (22 games). Then they each play teams from the opposite conference twice (12 games), once on each's home court. The four teams in each conference with the best Win/Loss records go on to compete in the WNBA Playoffs during September with the WNBA Finals following later in the month.

All-Star Game

In the middle of July, regular play stops temporarily for the WNBA All-Star Game. The game is part of a weekend-long event, held in a selected WNBA city each year. The actual game is played on the selected WNBA team's home court. The All-Star Game features star players from the Western Conference facing star players from the Eastern Conference. During the season, fans get to vote for the players they would like to see start the game. The 2006 All-Star Game was be the first game to feature custom uniforms that match the decade anniversary logo.

WNBA Playoffs Series

The top 4 teams in each conference compete in the WNBA Playoffs after the regular season, usually in August and early September. Each conference has two conference semi-final series, putting the team with the best record in each conference against the team with the 4th best record in the conference. The team with the 3rd best record in each conference faces the team with the 2nd best record in the same conference. The winning teams from each of these series face each other in the conference final, with the winning team in each conference facing the other team in the WNBA Finals.

First and second round playoff games series are best-of-three playoff games series. The first game of the series is played on the home court of the team with the lower seed, while the last two games are played on the home court of the higher ranked team. The WNBA Finals is a best-of-five playoff games series, held in September.

History

Officially approved by the NBA Board of Governors on April 24, 1996, the creation of the WNBA was first announced at a press conference with Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes in attendance. While not the first major women's professional basketball league in the United States (a distinction held by the defunct WBL), the WNBA is the only league to receive full backing of the NBA. The WNBA logo, "Logo Woman" paralleled the NBA logo and was selected out of 50 different designs.

We Got Next

On the heels of a much-publicized gold medal run by the 1996 USA Basketball Women's National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the WNBA began its first season on June 21, 1997 to little fanfare. The league began with eight teams; the first WNBA game featured the New York Liberty facing the Los Angeles Sparks in Los Angeles. The game was televised nationally in the United States on the NBC television network. At the start of the 1997 season, the WNBA had television deals in place with NBC (NBA rights holder), and the Walt Disney Company and Hearst Corporation joint venture channels, ESPN and Lifetime Television Network, respectively. Penny Toler was the first woman to score a point in the league.

The WNBA centered its marketing campaign, dubbed "We Got Next", around stars Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes. In the league's first season, Leslie's Los Angeles Sparks underperformed and Swoopes sat out much of the season due to her pregnancy. The WNBA's true star in 1997 was WNBA MVP Cynthia Cooper, Swoopes' teammate on the Houston Comets. The Comets defeated Lobo's New York Liberty in the first WNBA Championship game.

The initial "We Got Next" advertisement would run following each NBA season until it was replaced with the "We Got Game" campaign.

Struggle for Relevancy

In 1999, the league's chief competition, the American Basketball League, folded. Many of the ABL's star players, including several Olympic gold medalists (like Nikki McCray and Dawn Staley) and a number of standout college performers (including Kate Starbird and Jennifer Rizzotti), then joined the rosters of WNBA teams and, in so doing, enhanced the overall quality of play in the league. When a lockout resulted in an abbreviated NBA season, the WNBA saw faltering TV viewership.

Four teams were added after the 1997 season, bringing the number of teams in the league up to twelve. The 1999 season began with a collective bargaining agreement between players and the league, marking the first collective bargaining agreement to be signed in the history of women's professional sports.

The WNBA made a huge step on May 23, 2000, when the Houston Comets became the first WNBA team to be invited to the White House Rose Garden.

Expansion, Contraction, and Relocation

By the 2000 season, the WNBA had doubled in size. Two teams were added in 1998; the Detroit Shock and the Washington Mystics. Then another two in 1999; the Minnesota Lynx and the Orlando Miracle. And then in the 2000 season four more were added to the league; the Indiana Fever, the Seattle Storm, the Miami Sol, and the Portland Fire. Teams and the league were collectively owned by the NBA until 2002, when the NBA sold WNBA teams either to their NBA counterparts in the same city or to a third party. This led to two teams moving; Utah to San Antonio and Orlando to Connecticut. With the move the Sun became the first WNBA team to be owned by a third party instead of an NBA franchise. It also led to two teams folding, the Miami Sol and Portland Fire.

In addition to the restructuring of teams, players also caused changes in the league. In 2002, the WNBA Players Association threatened to strike the next season if a new deal was not worked out between players and the league. The result was a delay in the start of the 2003 preseason.

After the 2003 season, the Cleveland Rockers folded because the ownership of that franchise was unwilling to operate the franchise.

The 2004 season proved to be the most competitive in league history, with almost all the teams in the league vying for playoff spots. On October 21, 2004, in the wake of this success, Val Ackerman, the first WNBA president, announced her resignation, effective February 1, 2005, citing the desire to spend more time with her family. Ackerman later became president of USA Basketball.

On February 15, 2005, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that Donna Orender, who had been serving as the Senior Vice President of the PGA Tour and who had played for several teams in the now-defunct Women's Pro Basketball League, would be Ackerman's successor as of April 2005.

The WNBA awarded its first expansion team in several years to Chicago (later named the Sky) in February 2005. In the off-season, a set of rule changes was approved that made the WNBA more like the NBA.

The 2007 season was the WNBA's 11th; in 2006 the league became the first team-oriented women's professional sports league to exist for ten consecutive seasons. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary, the WNBA released its All-Decade Team, comprising the ten WNBA players deemed to have contributed, through on-court play and off-court activities, the most to women's basketball during the period of the league's existence.

In December of 2006, the Charlotte Bobcats organization announced it would no longer operate the Charlotte Sting. Soon after, the WNBA announced that the Charlotte Sting would not operate for the upcoming season. A dispersal draft was held January 8, 2007, with all players except for unrestricted free agents Allison Feaster and Tammy Sutton-Brown available for selection. Teams selected in inverse order of their 2006 records, with Chicago receiving the first pick and selecting Monique Currie.

In October of 2007 the WNBA awarded another expansion franchise to Atlanta. Atlanta businessman Ron Terwilliger will be the owner of the new team. The yet to be named team will receive its players in an expansion draft and will be begin play in May of 2008.

Rules

Rules are governed by standard basketball rules as defined by the NBA, with a few notable exceptions:
  • The three-point line is 20 feet and 6.25 inches (6.25 m) from the middle of the basket, in line with FIBA regulations.
  • The regulation WNBA ball is a minimum 28.5 inches (72.4 cm) in circumference, 1.00 inch (2.54 cm) smaller than the NBA ball. As of 2004, this size is used for all senior-level women's competitions worldwide.
  • There is no block/charge arc under the basket.
  • Quarters are 10 minutes in duration instead of 12.
Starting with the 2006 WNBA season, all games are divided into four 10-minute quarters as opposed to the league's original two 20-minute halves of play, as to fit with international procedures (many WNBA players play in Europe or Australia in the Northern Hemisphere autumn and winter). The NBA rule on jump balls is used for determining possession for the second, third, and fourth periods (i.e. team winning tip is awarded the ball at the beginning of the fourth quarter; the other team gets it to start the second and third periods). Under the two-half format both periods started with jump balls, presumably to prevent teams from purposely losing the opening tip in order to get the ball first in the second half. Under the four quarters this is not a problem because the team that wins the tip gets the ball first in the final period.

Also in 2006, the shot clock was decreased from 30 to 24 seconds and the league began adopting NBA rules (14 second reset on any defensive foul if less than such time remains when a foul is called). The rule changes signaled a move away from rules more similar to those of college basketball and toward those that provide a more NBA-like game.

In 2007, the rules were changed again; the amount of time that a team can move the ball across the half-court line went from 10 to 8 seconds. In addition, a referee can grant time-outs to either a player or the coach, as in the NBA.

Teams

There have been a total of 17 teams in WNBA history. A total of 4 teams have folded since the league's inception: the Cleveland Rockers, the Miami Sol, the Charlotte Sting and the Portland Fire. Two other teams, the Utah Starzz and the Orlando Miracle moved to San Antonio (Silver Stars) and Uncasville, Connecticut (Sun) respectively. Most team names are also very similar to those of NBA teams in the same market, such as the Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics, the Sacramento Kings and Sacramento Monarchs, the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, and the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx.

Eastern Conference

Team Colors Arena Founded
AtlantaTBDPhilips Arena2008
Chicago SkySky Blue, GoldUIC Pavilion2006
Connecticut SunNavy Blue, Red, GoldMohegan Sun Arena1999
Detroit ShockBlue, Red, Navy BlueThe Palace of Auburn Hills1998
Indiana FeverNavy Blue, Gold, RedConseco Fieldhouse2000
New York LibertyBlue, Liberty Green, OrangeMadison Square Garden1997
Washington MysticsBlue, Black, BronzeVerizon Center1998

Western Conference

Team Colors Arena Founded
Houston CometsRed, Navy Blue, SilverToyota Center1997
Los Angeles SparksPurple, GoldStaples Center1997
Minnesota LynxBlue, Green, SilverTarget Center1999
Phoenix MercuryPurple, Red, ChartreuseUS Airways Center1997
Sacramento MonarchsPurple, Red, SilverARCO Arena1997
San Antonio Silver StarsBlack, SilverAT&T Center1997
Seattle StormGreen, Red, GoldKey Arena2000

Former Teams

Future Teams

On October 16, 2007, the WNBA announced an expansion team for Atlanta, that will begin play in 2008. The unnamed team will play in Philips Arena, but is not affiliated with the NBA's Atlanta Hawks [1].

Other cities may get teams at some point. Some reports state that as many as 9 to 15 markets are interested in WNBA franchises. While nothing has been confirmed, there have been rumors of investor interest in starting new teams in Albuquerque, Atlantic City, the Bay Area, Bentonville, Charlotte, Cleveland, Colorado, Fort Wayne, Kansas City, Knoxville, Memphis, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.

In 2007, investors took steps to recreate the Colorado Chill, a previously successful franchise in the now-defunct NWBL, as a WNBA expansion team, but in September, Chill backers announced that they had not raised enough money to join the WNBA in 2008.

Business

WNBA Presidents

Finance

So far the WNBA has not mirrored the monetary success of the NBA, though it is targeting profitability in 2007. The NBA has provided annual subsidies of approximately $12 million dollars to cover operating losses. The average attendance of WNBA games, league-wide, is roughly half the average attendance of NBA games. As of the agreement signed in 2003, WNBA players who had up to three years of experience were capped at $42,000. By comparison, $385,277 was the minimum salary of an NBA rookie. WNBA rookies earned $30,000 per year. The maximum salary for a WNBA player in 2007 was $100,000. Many WNBA players choose to supplement their salaries by playing in European or Australian women's basketball leagues during the WNBA off-season.

2007 Team by Team Attendance

Team 2007 Attendance Avg. Arena
Chicago Sky3,710+UIC Pavilion
Connecticut Sun7,970+Mohegan Sun Arena
Detroit Shock9,749+The Palace of Auburn Hills
Houston Comets8,166+Toyota Center
Indiana Fever7,227+Conseco Fieldhouse
Los Angeles Sparks8,695+STAPLES Center
Minnesota Lynx6,971+Target Center
New York Liberty8,698-Madison Square Garden
Phoenix Mercury7,711+US Airways Center
Sacramento Monarchs8,413-ARCO Arena
San Antonio Silver Stars7,569+AT&T Center
Seattle Storm7,974-KeyArena
Washington Mystics7,788-Verizon Center
  • WNBA Average: 7,742+
+/- Increase or Decrease over last season

Media Coverage

As of 2007, WNBA games are televised throughout the U.S. by ABC, ESPN and NBA TV. In the early years two women's-oriented networks, Lifetime and Oxygen, also broadcasted games including the first game of the WNBA. NBC showed games from 1997 to 2002 as part of its larger contract with the NBA before losing those rights to ABC. WNBA games are also seen in multiple countries around the world.

Starting in the 2009 season, the league will enter a broadcast agreement with ABC/ESPN. The financial terms of the deal, which runs through the 2016 season, were not disclosed.

Many teams have local telecasts, and all games are also on local radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Champions

For more details on this topic, see WNBA Finals.


Season Winner Series Runner-Up
1997Houston Comets1-0New York Liberty
1998Houston Comets2-1Phoenix Mercury
1999Houston Comets2-1New York Liberty
2000Houston Comets2-0New York Liberty
2001Los Angeles Sparks2-0Charlotte Sting
2002Los Angeles Sparks2-0New York Liberty
2003Detroit Shock2-1Los Angeles Sparks
2004Seattle Storm2-1Connecticut Sun
2005Sacramento Monarchs3-1Connecticut Sun
2006Detroit Shock3-2Sacramento Monarchs
2007Phoenix Mercury3-2Detroit Shock

Players and coaches

For more details on this topic, see List of WNBA players.
A decade after the launch of the WNBA, in 2006 only 7 players remain from the original 1997 WNBA Draft: Tamecka Dixon, Vickie Johnson, Lisa Leslie, Mwadi Mabika, Wendy Palmer-Daniel, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson. Only four of these players remain on the same teams that they were selected by in the 1997 WNBA Draft: Leslie and Mabika with the Los Angeles Sparks, and Swoopes and Thompson with the Houston Comets.

Each April, the WNBA holds the WNBA Draft in the city that hosted NCAA Women's Final Four. Interestingly, the average height of a WNBA player dropped from about 184 centimeters to 183.5 centimeters from the 2006 season to the 2007 season.

In 2007 Paul Westhead of the Phoenix Mercury became the first person to earn both NBA and WNBA championship rings as a coach.

WNBA Awards

After the end of the regular season, these league awards are awarded to both coaches and players:

2007 Winners

Award Winner Team
WNBA Finals MVP AwardCappie PondexterPhoenix Mercury
WNBA Most Valuable Player AwardLauren JacksonSeattle Storm
WNBA Defensive Player of the Year AwardLauren JacksonSeattle Storm
WNBA Most Improved Player AwardJanel McCarvilleNew York Liberty
WNBA Peak PerformerLauren JacksonSeattle Storm
WNBA Peak PerformerBecky HammonSan Antonio Silver Stars
WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year AwardPlenette PiersonDetroit Shock
WNBA Rookie of the Year AwardArmintie PriceChicago Sky
Kim Perrot Sportsmanship AwardTully BevilaquaIndiana Fever
WNBA Coach of the Year AwardDan HughesSan Antonio Silver Stars

See also

References

External links

Women's National Basketball Association
Eastern Conference Western Conference
Chicago Sky | Connecticut Sun | Detroit Shock | Indiana Fever | New York Liberty | Washington MysticsHouston Comets | Los Angeles Sparks | Minnesota Lynx | Phoenix Mercury | Sacramento Monarchs | San Antonio Silver Stars | Seattle Storm
Defunct teams: Charlotte Sting | Cleveland Rockers | Miami Sol | Portland Fire
Media: WNBA on ESPN'' | List of WNBA Finals broadcasters
Other Women's Leagues: National Women's Basketball League | Women's National Basketball League (Australia)
Women's basketball is one of the few games which developed in tandem with men's. It became popular, spreading from the east coast of the United States to the west coast, in large part via women's colleges.
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1996 1997 1998 1999

19th century · 20th century · 21st century
1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 
1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999


..... Click the link for more information.
1997 1998 1999 2000

19th century · 20th century · 21st century
1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000


..... Click the link for more information.
Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
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Phoenix Mercury

Conference Western Conference
Founded 1997

Arena US Airways Center
City Phoenix, Arizona
Team Colors Purple, Orange, Chartreuse

General Manager Ann Meyers
Head Coach NONE

..... Click the link for more information.
WNBA on ESPN refers to the presentation of Women's National Basketball Association games on the ESPN family of networks. Under the title of WNBA Tuesday, games are broadcast throughout the WNBA season on Tuesday nights on ESPN2 and Saturday afternoons on ABC.
..... Click the link for more information.
Availability
Satellite
DirecTV Channel 601
Dish Network Channel 402
Cable
Cablevision Channels Vary
Comcast Channels Vary
Cox Communications Channels Vary
Time Warner Cable Channels Vary NBA TV
..... Click the link for more information.
Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
..... Click the link for more information.
19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1960s  1970s  1980s  - 1990s -  2000s  2010s  2020s
1993 1994 1995 - 1996 - 1997 1998 1999

Year 1996 (MCMXCVI
..... Click the link for more information.
Sport Basketball
Founded 1946
No. of teams 30
Country(ies)  United States
 Canada

Most recent champion(s) San Antonio Spurs

TV partner(s) ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV
Official website NBA.
..... Click the link for more information.
Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
..... Click the link for more information.
20th century - 21st century
1960s  1970s  1980s  - 1990s -  2000s  2010s  2020s
1994 1995 1996 - 1997 - 1998 1999 2000

Year 1997 (MCMXCVII
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MAY (also known as: Mei, メイ, 메이) is a Korean singer, well known in South Korea for singing the song "Miracle". She is able to speak Korean, Japanese, and English.

MAY was born on May 6, 1982 in Seoul, South Korea.
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2007 August >>
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31

August is the eighth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with the length of 31
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2007 August >>
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31

August is the eighth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with the length of 31
..... Click the link for more information.
2007 September >>
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30

September is the ninth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of four Gregorian months with 30 days.
..... Click the link for more information.
Sport Basketball
Founded 1946
No. of teams 30
Country(ies)  United States
 Canada

Most recent champion(s) San Antonio Spurs

TV partner(s) ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV
Official website NBA.
..... Click the link for more information.
Connecticut Sun

Conference Eastern Conference
Founded 2003

History Orlando Miracle
(1999-2002)
Arena Mohegan Sun Arena
City Uncasville, Connecticut
Team Colors Blue, Red, Gold
Owner
..... Click the link for more information.
Sport Basketball
Founded 1946
No. of teams 30
Country(ies)  United States
 Canada

Most recent champion(s) San Antonio Spurs

TV partner(s) ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV
Official website NBA.
..... Click the link for more information.
Chicago Sky

Conference Eastern Conference
Founded 2005

Arena UIC Pavilion
City Chicago, Illinois
Team Colors Light blue, gold
Owner Michael J.
..... Click the link for more information.
Sport Basketball
Founded 1946
No. of teams 30
Country(ies)  United States
 Canada

Most recent champion(s) San Antonio Spurs

TV partner(s) ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV
Official website NBA.
..... Click the link for more information.
Chicago Sky

Conference Eastern Conference
Founded 2005

Arena UIC Pavilion
City Chicago, Illinois
Team Colors Light blue, gold
Owner Michael J.
..... Click the link for more information.
Connecticut Sun

Conference Eastern Conference
Founded 2003

History Orlando Miracle
(1999-2002)
Arena Mohegan Sun Arena
City Uncasville, Connecticut
Team Colors Blue, Red, Gold
Owner
..... Click the link for more information.
Houston Comets

Conference Western Conference
Founded 1997

Arena Toyota Center
City Houston, Texas
Team Colors Red, Blue
Owner Hilton Koch
General Manager Karleen Thompson
Head Coach
..... Click the link for more information.
Los Angeles Sparks

Conference Western Conference
Founded 1997

Arena Staples Center
City Los Angeles, California
Team Colors Purple, Gold
Owner Carla J. Christofferson & Katherine E.
..... Click the link for more information.
Phoenix Mercury

Conference Western Conference
Founded 1997

Arena US Airways Center
City Phoenix, Arizona
Team Colors Purple, Orange, Chartreuse

General Manager Ann Meyers
Head Coach NONE

..... Click the link for more information.
Washington Mystics

Conference Eastern Conference
Founded 1998

Arena Verizon Center
City Washington, D.C.
Team Colors Blue, Black, Bronze
Owner Ted Leonsis
General Manager Linda Hargrove

..... Click the link for more information.
The WNBA Finals is the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), held in early September and played under a best-of-five playoff format. The team winning the Eastern Conference Finals earns one of the two seeds in the championship round, with the
..... Click the link for more information.
Women's National Basketball Association All-Star Game, commonly referred to as the WNBA All-Star Game is an annual exhibition basketball game played in the United States between the best players of the Eastern and Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball
..... Click the link for more information.
In an organised sports league, a season is the portion of one year in which regulated games of the sport are in session. For example, in Major League Baseball, one season lasts approximately from April to September; in European football (soccer), it is generally from August until
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