The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was founded on April 24th 1996, and the first season began in June of 1997. The league has 12 teams as of now and looks to eventually expand. The WNBA has blossomed over recent years, and each year, it seems to gain more and more attention. The world’s best female basketball players play in the WNBA.
The WNBA is a league that is on the rise in the world of sports and is gaining respect from many as each season comes and goes. One person who has been a key contributor to the WNBA and women’s basketball’s success is Kobe Bryant. Once Bryant retired, he stayed close to the game of basketball. He coached his daughter Gianna and many others to help enrich women’s basketball and bring attention to the sport. Bryant did so much for the game of basketball, sharing his knowledge with the women. Due to Bryant’s dedication to the sport, many people have since bought into women’s basketball and the WNBA. One WNBA player whose life was majorly impacted by Bryant is New York Liberty guard and former Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu. Ionescu was selected first overall in the 2020 WNBA draft by the New York Liberty. Ionescu used to be and is still involved with the Mamba Sports Academy, which was founded by Bryant. She helped coach Gianna and others who attended the academy. Ionescu is another big advocate for women’s basketball. Greenville University Women’s Basketball Player Madelyn Stephen shared her thoughts on Bryant’s impact. “Kobe would use his presence on social media to promote women’s sports,” she stated, “Kobe used his voice to open up doors for women’s sports and has made a long-lasting impact on them.”
The first player to ever be drafted in the WNBA draft was Dena Head, who was drafted at the age of 27 out of the University of Tennessee. Many names that most people are familiar with from the WNBA include Sheryl Swoopes, Sue Bird, Rebcca Lobo, and Candace Parker. The WNBA is growing through the stars that continue to be drafted and through the love and support from NBA stars and many more. Many star athletes are showing love to the WNBA, and one way that people are supporting the league is by wearing orange shirts and hoodies with the WNBA logo on them. The WNBA draft recently took place on April 15th, 2021. The draft consisted of three rounds with twelve picks in each round. The first player taken in this year’s draft was Charli Collier, a center from the University of Texas. Collier was drafted with the number one overall pick by the Dallas Wings, who received the number one overall pick from the New York Liberty in a trade. The first overseas player that was taken in this year’s draft was Awak Kuier, a forward/center from Finland.
Many star players were selected in the 2021 draft, and many expect to blossom in the WNBA and to have successful careers. The start of the WNBA season is just around the corner and will tip off May 14th. Watch the new WNBA season to see stars from this year’s draft class as well as stars from previous draft classes.
Media by Wyatt Moser.