Las Vegas this weekend hosts the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game (WASG) and the ancillary activities leading up to it. This is the second time under the current format in which the 24 players were selected regardless of conference affiliation and put on two teams, captained by the two top vote-getters.
This also is the first time the game is played in Las Vegas, the second-year home of the Aces, the team that started in Utah and then moved to San Antonio before landing in Sin City last season. It will be this sportswriter’s 13th consecutive mid-season classic, and counting the 2010 WNBA vs. USA exhibition, our 14th overall.
Each WASG in itself provided its own unique moments, whether during the game or away from it, as the following summary shows:
2000-Phoenix: Our first game included the first time ever heading straight to the game from the airport and heading back shortly afterwards. Minnesota’s Betty Lennox was the game’s only rookie. She would later win Rookie of the Year honors.
2002-Washington: The first WASG in the nation’s capital. Lisa Leslie won the third of her three All-Star MVPs — she also dunked the game’s final basket.
2003-NYC: My first time in the Garr-den. I also achieved national fame when former league president Donna Orender took umbrage with my diversity questions during her All-Star press conference. I also visited the NBA store located on the city’s famed Fifth Avenue, across the street from the tall office building owned by the current president.
2005-Connecticut: First WASG played at a casino, the gym located in the back.
2006-NYC: The East finally snapped its six-game losing streak to the West. It was Seimone Augustus’ first All-Star game, one of four rookies, then the highest number ever in a single WASG.
2007-DC: At least seven of us media types were forced to cram into a taxi from a WNBA event in southwest Washington Boys and Girls Club back to town because the media shuffle that brought us there was two hours late.
2009-Conn. (no game in ’08): Swin Cash became the first player to win MVPs whether on the winning squad (West) or the losing squad (West, 2011). My highlight, however, came after the game when I ran into Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson during a layover and got an exclusive interview about LeBron James’ “The Decision” that also occurred that weekend. He said no other reporter had asked him about it.
2010-W vs. USA in CT (No WASG): The first time we saw incoming UConn senior Maya Moore play in person — she was on the U.S. squad. She would be a Lynx the next season.
2011-San Antonio: My first time in Texas. Found a hole-in-the-wall place to eat courtesy of the hotel shuttle driver. Also was the first time Minnesota had four All-Stars — the quartet would later help the club win its first league title. (No game in ’12)
2013-Conn: Second WASG at the Sun casino.
2014-Phoenix: Attended my first-ever National League game the day before (Arizona-Chicago). Moore and Shoni Schimmel hit dueling last shots in the first OT All-Star Game, won by the East.
2015-CT: Moore won the first of her two WASG MVP awards in the five-point West victory. (No game in ’16)
2017-Seattle: Moore repeated as MVP, scoring a record 30 points, and the West would be the last conference to win consecutive ASGs (West finished with a 10-4 record).
2018-Mpls: The first time I covered a WASG without having to fly, rent a car or sleep in a hotel. It also would be then-W president Lisa Borders’ last All-Star appearance. She would step down shortly after the season.
2019-Vegas: To be determined
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.