It wasn’t that long ago that the WNBA finals had this country in a chokehold. Here in Brooklyn, NY, where I reside, we watched with bated breath. We hoped to the heavens that the Liberty would send the Las Vegas Aces back on a red-eye flight ringless. But that wasn’t the case, and we ended up as disappointed as a Buffalo Bills fan. Nevertheless, what we witnessed this past summer was the supreme excitement of the WNBA product.
This got me thinking about the future of the WNBA. My thoughts led me to one of college basketball’s brightest stars, Angel Reese. I think the 21-year-old LSU forward’s well-documented feud with Iowa’s Caitlin Clark sets the stage. The lights are bright on the scene of women’s college basketball. With the influx of new talent that’s well on its way, we’re promised more phenomenal playoff match-ups to come.
But as I’ve alluded to in the past, simply possessing and exhibiting skills doesn’t engage the masses. Personality and showmanship help a huge deal in selling tickets. Teams having a certain aura or identity are huge proponents in raising the profile of any league. And in recent years, I’ve seen so much improvement in how the WNBA has been marketed. This is due partially to the league’s efforts, but also, these ladies have taken control. The new-age WNBA player has a very keen understanding of branding. Not to mention, the exposure the league continues to garner year-round with player analysts like Chiney Ogwumike and Candace Parker.
So, with such a table set this way, it truly is a perfect storm to see a great rivalry continue to play out on the grand stage. It’s much like what the NBA reaped the benefits of in the 80’s with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Their fabled rivalry began in the NCAA. The decade thereafter is still heralded as the true beginning of the NBA as a mainstream entertainment entity.
I see this as that moment with the likes of Reese in the NCAA. Her blend of amazing play and her captivating persona lend itself favorably to the game. Players like Reese will make you want to tune in. They aren’t cookie-cutter. You could look forward to some good old-fashioned taunting and trash talk. And quite honestly, that’s the stuff that I and most other fans love. So, let it be known that I’m not some kind of psychic. But I do have a sixth sense. And right now it’s telling me, that this past summer was no aberration. The best years are yet to come for the WNBA.