Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles both completed their final regular seasons in 2022 at the end of legendary careers, but the coverage of Fowles has lagged behind that of Bird for many years. Part of that is a result of Bird embracing the media (even being part of it) while Fowles has a more reserved personality, but much of it stems from a racial bias in media coverage, and a tendency for the W to favor feminine-presenting players, that has yet to be fully addressed.
The WNBA attempted to shine light on both stars during their retirement tours. Both players were made All-Star co-captains for the 2022 All-Star Game, and ABC broadcast both Minnesota and Seattle’s games on the final day of the regular season. But during that All-Star Game, even as Fowles dunked her way to glory, Bird was given a game ball while nothing was prepared for Fowles. Bird’s last home game was also on ABC, while Fowles was relegated to ESPN2, though the network did air the entirety of the Lynx postgame ceremony. Furthermore, there was also a great to-do made of Bird’s final matchup against Diana Taurasi, while Fowles’ last game against Candace Parker was almost an afterthought.
That’s why, on this week’s episode of the Triple Threat podcast, the Bonnet Gang is wary of how the WNBA would promote a Parker farewell tour, especially if it comes in the same season that Taurasi calls it quits. When Bird — a player with fewer individual accolades than Fowles — generated more buzz, a player like Taurasi who was named the WNBA GOAT last season, is almost certain to overshadow even a generational talent like Parker.
The retirements of those two players gives the WNBA a chance to prove that there isn’t racial bias in its coverage, if only it can take advantage of the opportunity.
The Bonnet Gang also shared some thoughts on Rhyne Howard’s rookie of the year award, and whether Howard deserved to win the honor unanimously (she earned 53 out of the 56 votes). They also try to figure out what the AP was thinking with its all-rookie team, and if it does the league and its media partners a disservice when voters try to go off the beaten path with their choices. Furthermore, they react to the first round of the WNBA playoffs and try to chart a path forward for the New York Liberty and the Dallas Wings.
You can listen to all that and more in the full episode embedded below, and to make sure you never miss a single show moving forward, subscribe to the Swish Appeal podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Podcasts.