Women of the WNBA kicked butt beneath the international spotlight at the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, N.C.
From Hall of Famer Dawn Staley and future-Hall of Famer Sue Bird serving as coaches of the Celebrity Game on Friday — with A’ja Wilson and Stefanie Dolson competing in it — to Wilson and Candace Parker serving as judges of the Slam Dunk contest on Saturday, the best of the best were out en force and right at home among the best in the basketball universe.
But the real excitement came during halftime of the NBA All-Star Game when Marvel Studios debuted its “What Makes a Hero” spot in advance of the March release of Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson.
With Larson starring in her role as Captain Marvel, the ad also features “a tough cadre of W players like Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and A’ja Wilson prove that grit, power and strength can make a hero and inspire girls around the world to be heroes too,” a press release from the WNBA stated.
And WNBA COO Christy Hedgpeth said:
Women like Captain Marvel and our WNBA players define and inspire our own version of super hero in their everyday lives through their strength, speed and power. Whether that’s through basketball or striving to be the best they can be in the community, our players are inspiring examples of everyday heroes.
Captain Marvel opens in theaters on March 8, International Women’s Day.
The 2019 WNBA season tips off on May 24.
NBA All-Star recap
The Dawn Staley-coached Team Home beat Sue Bird’s Team Away, 82-80. Comedian Famous Los was the team-high scorer for Team Home, with 22 points, while A’ja Wilson finished with 11.
- Skills Challenge: Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics beat a field of seven other participants.
- Three-Point Contest: With a score of 26, Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets upstaged hometown hero Stephen Curry for the NBA Three-Point Contest trophy.
- Slam Dunk Contest: Hamidou Diallo of the Oklahoma City Thunder won it by dunking over a standing Shaquille O’Neal and dangling from the rim by an elbow.
Team LeBron (James) emerged with a 178-164 victory over Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo). Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 38 points in the loss, while Kevin Durant — who scored 31 points for the winning team — walked away with the MVP trophy.
An NBA All-Star year in which Marvel Studios collaborated with the WNBA to drop a stunning Captain Marvel ad during halftime of the All-Star Game presented a prime opportunity for broadcasters to highlight the on-court accomplishments of WNBA players. But they came up far short by snubbing coverage of Allie Quigley: winner of the WNBA All-Star Three-Point Contest in two consecutive years (2017, 2018) and setter of a new record for the contest.
With a score of 29 last July, Quigley has the highest score in WNBA or NBA history.
When the WNBPA calls on society to “bet on women,” it means, listen to women and include women in coverage where they rightfully belong. Anything else is default-to-male status quo that erodes social progress — decision by decision, erasing women from their rightful places in history.
Finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
A five-time WNBA All-Star (1999-2003) and two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (1997, 1998) who played for the New York Liberty, Teresa Weatherspoon can now add Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame finalist to her illustrious basketball resume that also includes collegiate and international achievements.
Elsewhere in the world of women’s basketball
A’ja Wilson finally meets Blake Griffin
Griffin famously sent Wilson a message of congratulations on her WNBA Draft night in 2018, and the two have remained public admirers of each other’s game across social media platforms ever since. Their paths finally crossed outside of the cyberspace, where they met and exchanged jerseys during NBA All-Star Weekend.
NBA clings tighter, still, to the status quo
The NBA and FIBA are teaming up to bring a league to the continent of Africa and, reportedly, former president Barack Obama is involved in this endeavor. Growth and expansion are always reasons to celebrate, so — congrats, Africa!
But ... what about the WNBA?
As recently as last year’s WNBA Finals, then-WNBA president Lisa Borders spoke about revenue not being where it needs to be to support higher pay for players or air travel for teams. Yet, the NBA somehow found a way to pay unproven high school athletes pretty big dollars right out of the gate, with it’s G-League “select contracts.” And, now, the NBA has magically found the revenue to start an entirely new league on a faraway continent.
So, if the NBA can start paying “select contracts” to kids who haven’t played a game yet — and start a new league in Africa — the players should expect the league to support sweeping changes in favor of parity during the collective bargaining process.
- All-Star Celebrity Game coaches Sue Bird and Dawn Staley, in conversation.
- If you miss a WNBA game or two, Facebook Watch has got you covered. The social media platform will be providing video recaps of every WNBA game.
- Looking for a career in coaching? Chances are, you’ll start out as an assistant. Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw wrote about the top traits she values in assistant coaches.
- ICYMI: Breanna Stewart spoke about the role of social media in her journey to owning her power.
Arielle Chambers at High Post Hoops covered the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in a way that no one else did: She asked NBA players questions about the WNBA and the WNBA only. It’s great to see so many outlets using the players’ answers to Chambers’ questions in their coverage. But perhaps these same outlets can learn from her example and also give Chambers the hat tip she deserves?
More NBA All-Star Weekend coverage courtesy of the WNBA!
- Player portraits
- Photos & videos from the @NBAKicks shoe wall
- GIFs from the Twitter stop
- Highlights, clips and photos from A’ja Wilson, Stefanie Dolson, Sue Bird and Dawn Staley participating in the Celebrity Game
- Behind-the-scenes coverage at NBA Cares and Jr. NBA events
- Clips from NBA All-Star media day featuring Karl Anthony-Towns, Bradley Beal and Mike Malone shouting out WNBA players
We all have something to fight for. Something that calls us to lead. The question is, How will you get it done? -Captain Marvel