- 10-Time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings to Play Final Season with Indiana Fever
- Dallas Wings Make Franchise Debut, Two-time All-Star Skylar Diggins Returns
- No. 1-Overall WNBA Draft Pick Breanna Stewart Tips off WNBA Career with Seattle Storm
ESPN will tip off its 14-game regular-season schedule of the WNBA’s historic 20th year on Saturday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. ET when the defending champion Minnesota Lynx and four-time WNBA All-Star Maya Moore host the Phoenix Mercury and nine-time All-Star Diana Taurasi. Ryan Ruocco will return as the lead play-by-play voice alongside analyst Carolyn Peck and reporter Holly Rowe.
The schedule will include six games featuring the 2015 champion Lynx, four games showcasing Taurasi, two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Brittney Griner and the Mercury, and three appearances by reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky. The Dallas Wings (formerly the Tulsa Shock) will be led by two-time All-Star Skylar Diggins, who is returning from injury, and will also feature three times in the schedule.
Following the Olympic breaks, ESPN2 will have a doubleheader Sunday, Aug. 28, featuring the Seattle Storm and Breanna Stewart, the 2016 WNBA Draft No.-1 overall draft selection, will face the Lynx in Minnesota (7 p.m.), followed by two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks against the Mercury. The schedule will close with the final regular-season game in the decorated career of Indiana’s five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Tamika Catchings, when the Fever face the visiting Wings on Sunday, Sept. 18, on ESPN2 at 4 p.m.
ESPN has telecast games each year of the WNBA’s history. ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo is one of the founding players of the league, along with fellow Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes. The network will offer comprehensive coverage of the landmark 20th season, including:
ESPN Production Highlights
- Analyst and former WNBA All-Star Lobo will return this season as an analyst, alongside Ruocco
- Veteran play-by-play commentator Pam Ward will team with analyst Peck.
- LaChina Robinson will work as a reporter on select games.
- On Saturday, June 7, ESPN will debut a three-person booth with Ruocco, Lobo and Peck teaming with reporter Rowe as the New York Liberty visit the Los Angeles Sparks – a rematch of the historic first game in WNBA history. Lobo played in that inaugural game as a member of the Liberty.
- Throughout the season, ESPN will look back at great moments in WNBA history, including year-by-year flashbacks.
- During the second half of the season, ESPN will highlight the league’s new playoff format with “Playoff Push” segments that will delve into the specifics of the format with graphics and video.
- espnW will run a season-long series that looks back at the WNBA’s 20-year history, with a focus on current stars and storylines including upcoming features on Cynthia Cooper and a flashback to the first game in WNBA history.
- espnW and ESPN The Magazine have collaborated on several preseason profiles, which will appear in the WNBA20 issue of The Magazine.
- espnW’s 2016 season preview will include preseason power rankings, expert picks and player and team analysis of what the season holds.
- Columnist Mechelle Voepel will write weekly throughout the season, with additional coverage from Michelle Smith, Kate Fagan and other espnW voices.
ESPN The Magazine
ESPN The Magazine has published a WNBA20-themed issue that takes a look at the history of the league and where it can still go. From The Mag’s Steve Wulf: “The whole WNBA thing started 20 years ago with a ball that looked like breakfast (orange and oatmeal) and a slogan that made grammarians lose theirs: “We Got Next.” But as this issue makes clear, the legacy of the WNBA lies not in what it “got” but in what it “gave.”” The issue will hit newsstands Friday, May 13, and story highlights include (see release for full details):
- As Good as It Gets — In the WNBA, draft night is a big deal: The glitz, glamour, national TV coverage and attention are impressive. But if history is any indication, this year’s top pick, Breanna Stewart, might never be that popular again. Several former No. 1 picks talk about the expectations, pressure and attention of draft night compared with life after the big event. By Elizabeth Merrill
- Moving the Ball Forward: An oral history of the WNBA — Some of the pioneers of the WNBA, among them Val Ackerman, David Stern, Adam Silver and Rebecca Lobo, reflect on what it was like during the league’s infancy. By Mechelle Voepel
- Lost and Found in Russia — Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi both play in Russia during the offseason—in part because WNBA salaries just don’t cut it. In this piece, they talk about their relationship (Taurasi has become a mentor to Griner), successes and struggles. By Kate Fagan
2016 WNBA ESPN/ESPN2 Schedule (subject to change):
|Sat, May 14||7:30 p.m.||Phoenix Mercury at Minnesota Lynx||ESPN|
|Tue, May 24||7 p.m.||Los Angeles Sparks at Chicago Sky||ESPN2|
|Tue, May 31||8 p.m.||Minnesota Lynx at New York Liberty||ESPN2|
|Tue, Jun 7||10 p.m.||New York Liberty at Los Angeles Sparks||ESPN2|
|Tue, Jun 14||8 p.m.||Indiana Fever at Minnesota Lynx||ESPN2|
|Tue, Jun 21||8 p.m.||Phoenix Mercury at Dallas Wings||ESPN2|
|Tue, Jun 28||10 p.m.||Dallas Wings at Los Angeles Sparks||ESPN2|
|Tue, Jul 5||8 p.m.||Chicago Sky at Minnesota Lynx||ESPN2|
|Tue, Jul 19||8 p.m.||Los Angeles Sparks at Indiana Fever||ESPN2|
|Sun, Aug 28||7 p.m.||Seattle Storm at Minnesota Lynx||ESPN2|
|9 p.m.||Los Angeles Sparks at Phoenix Mercury||ESPN2|
|Tue, Sep 6||8 p.m.||Phoenix Mercury at Atlanta Dream||ESPN2|
|Tue, Sep 13||8 p.m.||Minnesota Lynx at Chicago Sky||ESPN2|
|Sun, Sep 18||4 p.m.||Dallas Wings at Indiana Fever||ESPN2|
– 30 –