The WNBA saw an action-packed week, on and off the court, after beginning its season on Saturday. Fifteen games have been played already, starting with the Seattle Storm taking an 87-71 win over the New York Liberty.
Defending champions Washington Mystics snatched the top of the rankings with their three wins and zero losses. Seattle Storm, the favourites to win this year with the return of Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird, are in second with two wins and one loss. Defending finalists Connecticut Sun were pushed into last place with three losses.
Though it’s only been a week, the WNBA has had a lot to talk about. These are the top five stories from the last few days.
PLAYERS AGAINST NATIONAL ANTHEM BEING PLAYED BEFORE GAMES
The WNBA’s season began with players from the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty walking off the court before the national anthem played ahead of their game. They proceeded to dedicate 26 seconds of silence while wearing black sweaters that said, “Say Her Name’ as a tribute to Breonna Taylor, the 26-year old Black woman who was shot by police, which helped spark national protests.
“I honestly feel like we should not play the national anthem during our season,” said six-time WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner. “I think we should take that much of a stand. I don’t mean that in any disrespect to our country. My dad was in Vietnam and a law officer for 30 years. I wanted to be a cop before basketball. I do have pride for my country.”
ESPN’S VIEWERSHIP UP 63% OVER 2019
If you show it, they’ll watch it. ESPN aired all four games from opening weekend on its two main networks, which drew in an average of 401,000 viewers per game. The L.A. Sparks’ 99-76 win over the Phoenix Mercury, averaging 540,000 viewers at a time on ABC, was the most-watched WNBA opener since 2012 – a 20% jump from last year’s opener.
SABRINA IONESCU IS ALREADY A WNBA QUEEN
This year’s No. 1 draft pick dropped a game high of 33 points against the Dallas Wings on Wednesday night, recording seven assists and seven rebounds to go with it. She shot 11-20 from the floor, 6-10 three pointers and five out of five from the free throw line.
Ionescu is best known for becoming first college basketball player to record 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds
FOWLES BECOMES WNBA ALL-TIME LEADING REBOUNDER
Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx recorded 11 rebounds on Sunday to put her at 3,361 total career rebounds. The 34-year-old center is now five rebounds ahead of Rebekkah Brunson, her Lynx teammate-turned-coach.
Fowles’ rebound that broke the record came in the last 3.9 seconds of the second quarter. Averaging 15.8 points and 9.8 rebounds, she finished the game against Seattle with 15 points and 11 rebounds, her 165th career double-double.
KYRIE IRVING COMMITS $1.5M TO HELP PAY WNBA PLAYERS WHO OPTED OUT
WNBA players were given the option to opt out of the 2020 WNBA season with no penalty, but they would not receive their salary. NBA star Kyrie Irving connected with several WNBA players who chose to sit out to discuss the challenges in deciding whether to play. He then committed to funding players through the KAI Empowerment Initiative that he launched on Monday.
“Whether a person decided to fight for social justice, play basketball, focus on physical or mental health, or simply connect with their families, this initiative can hopefully support their priorities and decisions,” Irving said.
Players need to apply for funding by Aug. 11 and recipients will be notified Aug. 24.
Featured photo credit: Nets Daily