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  • Chappell Wilson

The WNBA continues to thrive this season

Throughout its past 27 years of existence, the WNBA has struggled with attendance, viewership, and sponsorship. The league began in 1996–1997 and only had a collection of eight teams at the time: the New York Liberty, Charlotte Sting, Houston Comets, Utah Starzz, Cleveland Rockers, Phoenix Mercury, Sacramento Monarchs, and Los Angeles Sparks. In the WNBA’s first matchup, the Los Angeles Sparks faced off against the New York Liberty. The Sparks were defeated by 10 (67-57), and they continuously struggled throughout their first tenure. In the first ten years of the league, a few teams removed themselves from the league due to ownership’s lack of faith in the association. The Houston Comets had a big three before it was ever named that, and the big three were Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson, and four-time finals MVP Cynthia Cooper.

The league never truly grasped the attention it may well have deserved throughout the early years and at times seemed to show no improvement. In 2021, the WNBA and ESPN agreed to a deal that would help showcase the league’s talent to a much wider fan base. During the 2022 season, the Las Vegas Aces asserted their dominance over the league on their way to the organization’s first WNBA title. A’ja Wilson was dominating the entire year and took home the league’s MVP award in 2022 while averaging 19.5 ppg, 2 blocks, and 9.5 rebounds. This season (2023) began with two teams on complete opposite sides of the country playing great basketball and seemed to be on their way to meet up in the finals. Those two teams were none other than the Aces and Liberty; both squads had at least one thing in common: a great player.

The reigning champion Aces had the reigning MVP, A’ja Wilson, while the New York Liberty had Breanna Stewart, who averaged over 20 ppg every year after her second season. These two teams battled in each matchup throughout this season, splitting the series 3-3. These big battles skyrocketed the ratings of all the networks, as it was the most-viewed regular season in 21 years and also had the highest fan attendance in 13 years. New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart took home this season's MVP as both teams are set to face off this Sunday in game 1 of the WNBA finals. This star-studded final should live up to the hype and hopefully set more viewership records while giving the fans a ton to look forward to. This will arguably be the most watched and important WNBA finals yet, so we’ll look back on this series some day and possibly remember it as one of the most important series for the sport!

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