Last week, an idiot tweeted about basketball coming back. I say idiot because his tweet expressed excitement for the return of basketball, which has yet to leave us. He counted down the days til the return of basketball, but there was basketball on. Important basketball. Finals basketball. How, Sway? It was the first night of the WNBA finals, an incredible match-up between Elena Delle-Donne and Kristi Toliver of The Washington Mystics, playing for the first time in the finals in franchise history, and the dynamic duo of Sue Bird and Breeana Stewart of the Seattle Storm.
The WNBA is annoyingly hard to follow, to be honest, and maybe this has to do with why the WNBA has a much smaller following the NBA. They have way less of a national TV presence. They started showing WNBA on Lifetime when the league first started in 1997. The sport has now been validated as a sport and shown on ESPN. But, sometimes ESPNNews or ESPN 17, which is a channel that doesn’t exist but if you follow a leprechaun to the end of the rainbow, there you’ll find WNBA games. Games are shown at the optimal game watching time of 3pm EST. And I watch a lot of sports at 3:00 pm on weekdays…because they are football (soccer) games being played in England or wherever there is a significant time difference and the game just shows here in the middle of the day because it is an actual appropriate time for televised sports where it is being played. There’s nothing ultimately wrong with the games at 3pm, but come on. Despite the horrible program scheduling, I think the bigger issue attributed to the lack of following (and the difference in pay) is sexism. People (men) I know and love who claim to be allies have made comments that they don’t follow the WNBA with a hint of disdain for the sport in their voice. This year, the WNBA offered a WNBA league pass for$17…a year. One time payment of $17 to watch the entire damn season. I bought it, but didn’t watch much because the Fever sucked this year, and also they don’t have a Roku channel, and the stream on my google chrome isn’t that great. But I did watch some games, and have been obsessed with watching the finals, with the games playing on such top ESPN stations as ESPN news (grooooan).
As a Hoosier, I love basketball. My favorite holiday is March Madness. That week where I can watch basketball from morning to night is so fulfilling. I love setting up for it, my laptop set on one game, watching games on television, sometimes posted up at a bar watching games on multiple TVs. The Pacers are my team, through and through, favorite of all the teams I follow across all sports. But I too am a bit of a hypocrite. I should follow women’s college basketball and WNBA much more than I do. And I intend to that from now on. Thinking of switching to apple TV cause they do have a WNBA channel.
It’s not male athletes who aren’t following the WNBA. Between kicking people in the nuts, Draymond Green watches the WNBA to learn about basketball. “In the NBA there’s always that one guy who is around cause he knows how to jump. He doesn’t have a clue of the fundamentals. I learn more from the WNBA. They know how to dribble, pivot, how to use the shot fake.”
So yeah, maybe there’s more pizzaz in the NBA, but watching the WNBA you are watching pure athleticism, points scored through smart plays, and way less ego or bullshit antics. And my god, there is so much talent. Just raw, knowledge of the fundamentals, basketball.
Tonight is Game 3 of the WNBA finals. The Storm lead the series 2-0. Games have been so close, a one possession game with just two minutes left, crazy comebacks, all the things we love about basketball. It’s been so fun to watch. So if the Storm win tonight, then yes, basketball is over. For a couple weeks. NBA basketball starts up with preseason games on September 28. So if we go all five games (which please God) we have the WNBA until September 16. And THEN basketball is over. For 12 days. 12 long lonely days.
I’ll close by saying, I don’t know who I am rooting for in this series. Elena Delle-Donne is a beast. Sue Bird is a monster who will cut you without blinking. Breanna Stewart is not here for the bullshit. But it is just so exciting watching these women play at a professional level, something that has only been am option for young aspiring basketball players for the past 21 years.