PHOENIX — The WNBA All-Star Game annually is snubbed by sports fans and sports media alike. Last Saturday’s contest here unfortunately remains only a summertime favorite for those of us who do care.
It was his first-ever All-Star Game, Earl Malloy told the MSR, admitting that his wife finally convinced him to join her in watching women’s pro hoops.
“I’ve been a season ticket holder since day one,” added Carolyn Malloy, who also went to the 2000 game, the last time it was played in Phoenix. “The women players play a lot better than the men.”
“I love it already,” proclaimed Roosevelt Scott, a St. Paul Johnson graduate who will be attending Arizona State University this fall on both his first-ever W game as well as his first W All-Star game. “The WNBA is a way different ball game.”
“It was a fun game to play in and even more fun to watch it,” said Minnesota forward Maya Moore after the one-point overtime game won by the East.
The W All-Star Game has no equal among the other major league pro leagues but draws little media attention. The players treat it more seriously.
“They’re out there playing hard in an All-Star game,” said Minnesota Lynx Assistant Coach Shelly Patterson.
“I think we are always working harder and harder to secure more media coverage,” admitted WNBA President Laurel Richie in an MSR interview last Friday. “We just need to get that word out — to get our fans asking for more coverage, the media providing more coverage. I would love more [coverage] and hope we can do some things that can get more.”
You’d think when pro players get up early, or take the redeye after a night game, and work with kids, as the W players routinely do, their efforts would draw more interest. Moore, Cappie Pondexter, Shoni Schimmel, Brittney Griner, Chiney Ogwumike and Glory Johnson hosted 65 Phoenix Boys and Girls Clubs youth in an early morning basketball clinic.
Pondexter afterwards told the MSR of their time with the youth, “It’s important to make them smile and share some information with them that they may not know. It’s a lasting mark you leave with the kids.”
“That is one of the things I am most proud of,” said Richie.
- The MSR has covered all but two WNBA All-Star Games, missing only the first one in 1999 and the third in 2001, as well as the 2010 exhibition game featuring USA and WNBA players.
- A historic first: An All-Star coaching staff was all Black [East Head Coach Michael Cooper and assistants Karleen Thompson and Teresa Edwards]. When the MSR brought this to their attention, Thomson said, “I didn’t even recognize that, but you’re right. I never even thought about it.” Edwards added, “It’s a big thrill” to coach in her first All-Star game. “They represented the Atlanta Dream well,” observed GM Angela Taylor.
- Views from the league’s top two Black female executives: “I think the second half of the season will be better than the first,” stated WNBA Basketball Operations Vice-President Renee Brown. “I think the biggest story line is, no one knows. I just think the unknown is what the story should be, and people should tune in.” Added President Richie, “I think it is going to be fierce competition to see who gets those remaining three spots in both conferences.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.