The 17th season of the WNBA tipped off Memorial Day Weekend. That’s right, THE 17th SEASON. Despite the ups and downs associated with the start of any American professional sports league and the additional challenge of establishing a women’s sports league, the WNBA is alive and kicking and poised to reach a new level thanks to an exciting infusion of fresh talent and personalities.
Whether you’re a hardcore fan returning for another year of B ball, a long-time skeptic open to convincing or a curious onlooker wondering what it’s all about, one thing you all have in common is you’re reading this. On some level, you’re interested in the W. That being the case, provided for you below (in no particular order) are Some Things You Need to Know About the WNBA.
1. Don’t Sleep on the Indiana Fever
Yes, dethroning the defending champion Minnesota Lynx was an upset. Yes, 2011 Finals MVP Seimone Augustus inexplicably got colder in Indy than Nicki Minaj at a Mariah Carey concert. But make no mistake, Tamika Catchings and the Fever were deserving WNBA Champions in 2012 and they aim to prove it again in 2013.
2. Maya Moore Shook the World
Maya Moore is a winner. Two NCAA titles during a storied career at national powerhouse UConn were followed immediately by a WNBA crown with the Minnesota Lynx to cap off her Rookie of the Year campaign.
3. Three To See
Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins. Numbers 1, 2 and 3 of the 2013 WNBA Draft. The celebrated “3 to See” may not have played a single regular season game in the WNBA yet, but the media buzz surrounding this talented, eclectic trio, combined with the tantalizing promise of unprecedented potential justifies the pithy moniker.
4. Brittney Griner: One of a Kind
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re familiar with Griner. The numbers are impressive — Height: 6-8, Shoe size: 17 (men’s), Wingspan: 86-inches, NCAA record 736 blocked shots, undefeated 40-0 National Championship season her junior year at Baylor, three-time First Team All-American, 18 career collegiate dunks — but it’s the one-of-kind nature of Griner’s size, strength, speed and athleticism that has captured the attention of every true sports fan.
5. Skylar Diggins Nails It
Skylar Diggins got her first taste of the WNBA in a preseason game against the Atlanta Dream where she took a hard shot to the face which required several stitches to repair. The new Tulsa Shock point guard, who is as savvy in the brave world of social media (where she is approaching 400,000 Twitter followers) as she is on the basketball court, nailed the postgame narrative by promptly posting a close-up shot of her stitched lip to Instagram.
6. Angel McCoughtry: “Trust Me And Believe”
Angel McCoughtry has had an up-and-down few years, but two things remain constant for the mercurial Atlanta Dream gunner: her unquestioned athleticism and her unfailing confidence. McCoughtry led the Dream to consecutive WNBA Finals appearances in 2010 and 2011, but failed to reach the ultimate goal both times.
7. Tina Charles: Chairwoman Of The Boards
Tina Charles, to put it bluntly, is a rebounding machine. After leading UConn to two straight national championships, Charles entered the WNBA as the No. 1 pick of the Connecticut Sun in 2010 and didn’t miss a beat, winning Rookie of the Year and setting all-time single-season league records for rebounds (398) and double-doubles (22).
8. This Could Be the Year
Candace Parker is due. Arguably the most gifted woman player on the planet, Parker’s rare skills were showcased in London 2012. Even as she was surrounded by the best basketball talent the world has to offer, she stood out, running the floor with the speed of a guard, almost goading opponents to force her either right or left, before deftly ball-handling around them and laying the ball in with a fluidity that almost, almost made it look easy.