WNBA president talks off-season hot topics and more

WNBA President, Laurel Richie
WNBA President Laurel Richie

Laurel Richie — in the fifth year of her WNBA presidency — had to address a couple of controversial off-season issues, including a domestic violence incident between two WNBA players, and Isiah Thomas’ now-tabled application for part ownership with the New York Liberty.

Unfortunately these topics gave the league more prime time sports coverage than anything positive that happened so far this season; the MSR recently asked how challenging that has been for her.

“No question we had [issues] we had to deal with directly [and] squarely in the off season,” admitted Richie. She added that she believes she handled the issues “in a respectful and considerate way. I like to think that we have addressed several situations in a way that is in the best interest of the league and the best interest of our players.”

Madame President said she hoped that more stories would have surfaced on the “terrific off-season on the business,” noting that the WNBA picked up several new national advertising partners during pro sports’ longest off-season.

Richie also briefly addressed several other subjects during her June 27 visit to Minneapolis — her second in four days.

  • On the new Lynx-Timberwolves practice facility:  “It’s a shining example of both teams who [are] ahead in the league.  I really do believe that [it] is setting a standard for the NBA and the WNBA.”
  • On the WNBA’s long-standing four-year college rule as opposed to the ‘one-and-done’ rule that the NBA now employs:  “It prepares them very well for the league. We hear from players time and time again that the consistently high level of talent, strength and athleticism of the players…when they get there and feel it on the court, there is still this sense of need to raise it yet again.”
  • On two players who left college early and entered this year’s WNBA draft:  There’s no cause for alarm, says the president — “Two players (Amanda Zahui B. and Jewell Loyd) choosing to do it this year is a personal choice that players will continue to make.  There’s always been the opportunity [to do this].”
  • On the Charleston massacre: “We have seen some parts of society that we collectively aren’t very proud of, and some that far exceed the capacity for good.  But clearly it was a very tragic event.”
  • On expanding the current playoff format (best of three, then best of five for the finals):  “I think there are a lot of creative ways to think about the post season. We are looking at a whole host of things in preparing for our 20th season [in 2016].”
  • On the recent NBA finals: “The [Golden State] Warriors reminded me of the WNBA — their focus on fundamentals and exquisite team ball.”

Read more on Laurel Richie’s Minneapolis visit in this week’s Another View in the MSR.


Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com