WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Friday afternoon during a conference call that this year’s draft is about “mak(ing) dreams come true” for players whose collegiate season was cut short by the global coronavirus pandemic.
“They didn’t get their NCAA Tournament, so to hear their names called tonight, I think we’ll make some dreams come true,” Engelbert said.
To be delivered in virtual format, the WNBA Draft 2020 will be like nothing seen before in professional sports history and comes complete with a virtual Orange Carpet event streaming live on WNBA Instagram; two hours of ESPN programming; and virtual live interviews with the draftees. With sports at a standstill, the WNBA has the opportunity to meet Engelbert’s major goal of the evening — “build(ing) off the momentum of last year’s Finals.”
At home like everyone else, the first-ever WNBA commissioner converted a room in her house into a television studio, using as props whatever she had around her, including a “sweater drying rack” that will function as a place to hang jerseys.
Without the competition of other live events, the WNBA gets the spotlight treatment during an event that has potential to lay the blueprint for how companies can use innovation and imagination to adapt to challenging and unprecedented times, sustaining the league’s momentum at the same time.
Draft night schedule
6:30 p.m. ET — WNBA Virtual Orange Carpet pre-show (WNBA Instagram)
7:00 p.m. ET — WNBA Virtual Draft, featuring tribute to Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant & Payton Chester (ESPN)
9:00 p.m. ET — 2019 Classic WNBA Finals: Connecticut Sun vs. Washington Mystics
WNBA statement on coronavirus relief
The WNBA, its players and teams have been working together over the past few weeks to make a greater impact and help those affected by COVID-19, with a particular focus on supporting frontline health care workers by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential medical items. Although we are a league comprised of many teams and players who compete vigorously on the court, we are all in this together as one team.
As part of #WNBATogether, WNBA Draft presenting partner State Farm®, the WNBA and the WNBPA are teaming up to donate $240,000 to Direct Relief – $20,000 for each of the 12 first-round picks in Friday’s draft.
Direct Relief is a humanitarian organization working in overdrive to get protective gear and critical medications into the hands of as many health workers as possible, as quickly as possible, with emergency deliveries leaving daily for medical facilities across the U.S.
For more information, please visit https://www.directrelief.org/emergency/coronavirus-outbreak/.
Protect yourself and others
The WNBA and NBA are selling league- and team-specific face coverings, with 100% of proceeds going to Feeding America® in the U.S. and Second Harvest in Canada.