The 19th WNBA season began in June under somewhat cloudy circumstances, with more attention given to off-court concerns than on-court promises. However, the finals series epitomized the spirit of the league, closing the year on a very positive note — in spite of continually having to battle for league legitimacy.
“It’s really about what happens on the court,” remarked WNBA President Laurel Richie during the Finals.
That’s the way it should be, agreed ESPN Analyst Carolyn Peck, but instead it’s NKTBU — “Nobody knows that but us,” she explained.
“I’m a viewer and reader that has to look to find information [on the WNBA]. There are people [who] are interested — if somebody presented it for us.”
A sad example was the October 14 USA Today sports edition. The day of Game 5 of the WNBA Finals, the paper published the following: six MLB stories and one column; two college football stories — a column and a brief; a story each on the UFC and NHL; one NBA column; a NFL story and two briefs; two men’s college basketball briefs; and one brief each for tennis and soccer.
The WNBA? A “Minnesota 2, Indiana 2” line in the “For The Record” section on Page 9C, the next to last page in the USA Today sports section.
“What has always bothered me is that any time women’s basketball gets attention, it’s been because of something negative,” noted Peck.
Balancing this with positive ink, voices, visuals, etc. is one thing, but when the majority of coverage is slanted towards negativity, if any attention is given at all, it’s something else.
It’s hard to find good stories on women’s hoops in general, and the W in particular, said Peck.
Earlier this month, she shared a “wish list” that, if everything was equal, would have gotten its share of notice this season:
– Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne “performed like a MVP” and was so honored this year.
-Fred Williams, the only Black coach in the Western Conference, guided Tulsa to its first playoff experience since relocating there. (However, the Shock has packed up and now moved to Dallas, where they will play starting next season).
-Stephanie White guiding the Fever to this year’s finals and finished as a runner-up in her first year as Indiana coach.
-White and Tamika Catchings’ “teamwork” to lead the Fever to the Eastern Conference title and league championship series.
-The newly crowned Minnesota Lynx’s juggling act this season with mid-season acquisitions and late-season injuries, but still reaching preseason predictions and outlasting Indiana for a third WNBA title in five years.
-Washington’s Emma Meesseman great season.
-Phoenix’s 2015 season without Diana Taurasi but not without DeWanna Bonner.
-Candace Parker’s half season after some much-needed rest in the season’s first half.
Add to Peck’s list, Maya Moore’s 12-point fourth quarter in Game 3, including the Lynx’s first playoff buzzer-beater.
“There are great things going on in the WNBA that’s not covered,” concluded Peck.
Sadly, it’s NKTBU.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.