The WNBA has come a long way in 25 years
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WNBA’s 25th season kicks off Friday night
Whether you consider its entire quarter-century existence or just the last calendar year, the WNBA has come a long way. Here are a few things to know as the league enters its silver anniversary season:
What has changed since last year
Due to the pandemic, the 2020 regular season has been reduced to just 22 games and played in a sequestered and fanless environment in Florida. Ditto for the playoffs, which culminated with stars Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird leading Seattle to a Las Vegas sweep in the WNBA Finals in early October.
But the “Wubble” is history. All 12 teams are back in their hometowns, and at least a few fans will be present everywhere. The schedule is 32 games – two short of normal, but not because of the pandemic. There is a break from July 15 to August. 11 to enable players to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.
The WNBA is also once again welcoming several players who chose not to participate last season, either due to coronavirus concerns or to devote more time to social justice causes. And the first selection in the 2020 draft, Sabrina Ionescu, returns from an ankle injury that reduced her thrilling rookie season to just three games.
There is also an interesting new competition in season called the Commissioner’s Cup. Ten of each team’s intra-conference matches before the Olympic break have been designated as Commissioner’s Cup matches. The team with the best record in those matches from each conference will face off right after the break – August 12 – for the trophy and the lioness’s share of a half-million dollar prize pool. Players on the winning team will receive approximately $ 30,000 each. As Yahoo Sports’ Cassandra Negley notes in this story, that’s more than half of what 2020 WNBA Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield does for the entire season.
What has changed since 1997
Too much to list here, but some of the differences that stand out in the WNBA’s inaugural season are that there were only eight teams and the playoffs consisted of just two rounds – all of which is one-game business. . The first two rounds are still single elimination, but the WNBA semifinals and finals are now the best of the five series.
The most significant growth, however, has come in salary and player benefits. In 1997, salaries ranged from US $ 15,000 to US $ 50,000, and players had to fight for their medical coverage to be extended during the offseason. Today the minimum the salaries of players on their rookie contracts are close to $ 59,000 and $ 70,000 for veterans. The best players can win just north of $ 220,000. The new employment agreement reached in early 2020, just before the outbreak of the pandemic, also included benefits such as full salary for female players on maternity leave, help with adoption costs, surrogacy. and fertility / infertility treatment, and individual hotel rooms when traveling by car.
WNBA players still earn only a fraction of what their NBA counterparts attract. Many of them play overseas during the offseason to supplement their income. But the gains made over the past 25 years are a testament to the skill and determination of today’s players and their predecessors who did the hard work of laying the groundwork.
The Olympics add an extra wrinkle to the 25th anniversary season
It is unlikely that anyone will prevent the star-studded US WNBA team from winning their seventh straight gold medal in Tokyo. The Americans are 49-0 since the unified team upset them in the semifinals in 1992.
But Canada has a chance to reach the women’s podium for the first time. He is ranked fourth in the world and three of his players are on the WNBA’s opening night rosters. Fourth-year guard Kia Nurse, an All-Star in 2019, will attempt to bounce back from a miserable season of filming as she begins again in Phoenix, which acquired her in a trade with New York. Third-year forward Bridget Carleton will be hoping to build on a strong season with Minnesota that saw her score 25 points and grab seven rebounds in her first WNBA start averaging 6.6 points and 3, 5 rebounds for the year. Veteran forward Natalie Achonwa joins Carleton, Minnesota after spending her first six seasons with Phoenix, where she averaged 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds last year. Find out more about the Canadiens and other things to know for the WNBA season in this article by Myles Dichter of CBC Sports.
Denis Shapovalov almost upset Rafael Nadal on clay. The young Canadian won the first set of his third round match at the Italian Open and collected two match points in the deciding third set. But Nadal showed why he was the greatest clay court player of all time, fighting to win in a tiebreaker. Later this month, the 34-year-old Spaniard will win his 14th French Open singles title on the filth of Roland Garros (no one else has seven more in the open era) and his 21st title. in Grand Slam singles. That would move him ahead of Roger Federer for the all-time men’s record. Learn more about Nadal’s victory over Shapovalov and watch the highlights here.
The last significant game of the NHL regular season is tonight. And there is a lot at stake. If Colorado beats Los Angeles (the Avalanche is a big favorite to do so), they will edge out Vegas to finish first in the West Division and also win the Presidents’ Trophy for best NHL regular season record. Either way, the last two undecided playoff games will be decided tonight. If the Avs win, they will face St. Louis and Vegas will face Minnesota in the first round. If they lose, it’s Vegas to St. Louis and Colorado to Minnesota.
We finally have the North Division playoff start dates. The NHL released its full first-round schedule today, and the Edmonton-Winnipeg game kicks off Wednesday, May 19 at 9 p.m. ET while the Toronto-Montreal series begins the following evening at 7:30 p.m. ET. The playoff opener, which had previously been announced, is still the first game between Washington and Boston on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET. The Pittsburgh-Islanders and Florida-Tampa Bay playoffs both start on Sunday, Carolina-Nashville start on Monday and the two West series (clashes to be determined) will be on Sunday and Monday. Check out the full schedule and TV news for each series here.
Canada has named its women’s hockey coach for the 2022 Olympics. Troy Ryan was Laura Schuler’s staff assistant in 2018, when Canada lost the gold medal game in a shootout against the U.S. He was supposed to coach Canada to the 2020 World Championship in Nova Scotia, but it was canceled due to the pandemic and the event was postponed this year. The plan now is to hold it somewhere in Canada in August, and the Canadian team is aiming for a training camp in July. In the meantime, many Canadian players will be taking part in the Secret Cup – a tournament May 24-30 in Calgary that is part of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association’s Dream Gap tour. Several stops were made in the United States this year, but Canadians were unable to participate due to border restrictions. Learn more about the Secret Cup here. Learn more about Ryan and the Canadian National Team here.
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