2017 WNBA season begins without much ado

The NBA annually uses Christmas Day — the league’s ‘unofficial’ start of the season — as its television kick-off platform. But their female counterpart instead gets a Saturday in May, a day normally reserved for baseball, golf and maybe a horse races, to do something similar.

The 2017 WNBA season officially starts Saturday — six of the 12 teams are in action, including a pseudo-doubleheader — each game shown on separate channels: NBA TV (San Antonio vs. New York, 3 pm ET) then on ESPN (Seattle at Los Angeles, 5 pm ET).

During Wednesday’s Start of Season media conference call, the MSR asked if the WNBA will ever have a Christmas Day-type marathon of games televised on one day.

“You mean where the WNBA has four games on TV in one day?” responded ESPN Analyst Rebecca Lobo. “I think we’re fortunate that ESPN…covers most of the games along with NBA TV. We have the opening games this weekend,” she pointed out. “We might not have double or triple or quadruple-headers, but I feel pretty good about the coverage that our network is providing.”

But for those of us who regularly cover the W, and for fans who watch, perhaps we don’t feel as good as Lobo does about what the four-letter sports network offers — a 16-game slate between ESPN and ESPN2 — especially when they have multiple channels.

But believe it or not, NBA TV is scheduled to show 34 WNBA games this summer — May (3), June and July – 11 each; August (18) and two in September. These games most likely will be sandwiched in between NBA pre-draft, post-draft; pre- during and post-summer league telecasts, and NBA so-called classic game schedule.

Also, Fox Sports North will show 17 Minnesota Lynx games, including the team’s 2017 season opener Sunday, May 14 (6 pm CT), the most in 19 years of televising Lynx games. But it will compete with the NBA’s San Antonio-Golden State game one of the West finals, and Antenna TV’s Mother Day’s marathon.

“We are especially proud to provide more Lynx coverage than ever before,” declared Senior Vice-President/General Manager Mike Dimond in a prepared statement.

However, no Lynx road games will be televised by the same local cable channel that most, if not all, Twins and Wild road games are shown, even though these teams haven’t won three championships in the last five years, or were predicted by most of their league’s general managers (announced by the WNBA Thursday) to win a fourth title later this season — as the Lynx.

But for those on Twitter, live WNBA games will be live streamed beginning May 14. It is the first professional women’s sport to do so on Twitter — 20 regular season games per year in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The first W “Twitter game” is Dallas at Phoenix (6 pm, ET).

Dallas Coach Fred Williams

The league announced earlier this month that the games will be available alongside “real-time” conversation on wnba.twitter.com and via @WNBA. “We are thrilled to bring live WNBA games to Twitter, which will allow us to further showcase our league to a global audience,” said League President Lisa Borders in a released statement.

“We are excited to help extend the reach of women’s sports around the world,” added Twitter COO Anthony Noto. “The growing women’s basketball fan base will be able to turn to Twitter to watch free games side by side with the real-time conversation.”

“We just want to be a relentless team and go out there and perform and compete,” concluded Dallas Coach Fred Williams, in response to the MSR‘s questions about his team’s identity will be this season. He hopes his young Wings “compete for a spot towards the end of the year…that’s one of our goals,” he stated.


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