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“What if the best players in the world created their own league?”
That’s the question asked at the launch of the Twitter page for UNRIVALED – a new WNBA All-Star League consisting of the top 30 players, started by Breanna Stewart (Forward for the New York Liberty) and Napheesa Collier (Forward for the Minnesota Lynx). Formed as an alternative for players who don’t want to play overseas in the off-season, it allows WNBA athletes who want to remain in the U.S. to make supplementary income beyond their regular WNBA salary.
“We remain committed to the WNBA, however there’s a problem that exists, which is players having to choose whether to play overseas to maximize earnings in the winter or stay home with family. We’ve decided to create our own solution,” Collier tweeted. “Stewie & I both have daughters. It’s our responsibility to show them & every young girl that looks up to us that sometimes you don’t have to wait your turn. You can either beg for a seat at the table or you can build your own table. We’re building our own table.”
Currently, there’s a “Prioritization Rule” in place for the WNBA that states players must return from overseas by May 19, otherwise they become ineligible to play in the upcoming season. With most international seasons not ending until May, this puts a lot of talented players at risk of being shut out.
The season for the new league is expected to run from January through March. A typical WNBA season runs from May through September. This Women’s All-Star League will consist of 30 players and make up six Franchise teams that will play games of three-on-three and one-on-one at a soundstage in Miami Florida.
Unfortunately, money will be a huge part determining whether Unrivaled succeeds or not. For the new league to work, Stewart and Collier must raise enough money in sponsorships and private funding to make it beneficial for players to want to stop playing overseas. Thankfully, the players they've approached so far have shown excitement for the potential new domestic off-season league- that is assuming the promised vision and salary for the single-site league comes to fruition.
“Like any league, we are an entertainment commodity.” elaborated Napheesa. “The league will feature an innovative style of 3v3 played on a shortened full-court. More spacing, more scoring, & shorter games. Highly entertaining & competitive with the top talent in the world.”
“It’s the ability for players to stay home, to be in a market like Miami where we can just be the buzz and create that with the best WNBA players,” Stewart told ESPN.
“I think we’re in such a special time right now.” commented Collier. “People are really finally starting to see the value of women’s sports.”
- contributed by Tiffany Grand
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