700 logos in index Logo index | Add new logo | Add to favorites

Women's National Basketball Association logo

The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) is a women's professional basketball league in the United States. It currently is composed of thirteen teams. The league was founded in 1996 as the women's counterpart to the NBA. League play started in 1997; the regular season is played from May to August with the playoffs starting in mid-August and running into September.

Many WNBA teams have NBA counterparts and play in the same arena. The Connecticut Sun, the Seattle Storm, and WNBA Tulsa are the only current teams to play without sharing the market with an NBA team (although the Storm shared a market with the Seattle SuperSonics before that team's controversial relocation). In addition to those three teams, the Chicago Sky is the only other team that does not share an arena with an NBA counterpart. The Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Los Angeles Sparks, Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm, WNBA Tulsa and the Washington Mystics are independently owned. This independent ownership is important to the WNBA's growth; at one time, all teams in the league were owned by the NBA.

Officially approved by the NBA Board of Governors on April 24, 1996, the creation of the WNBA was announced at a press conference with Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes in attendance.

The league began with eight teams: The Charlotte Sting, Cleveland Rockers, Houston Comets and New York Liberty in the Eastern Conference; and the Los Angeles Sparks, Phoenix Mercury, Sacramento Monarchs and Utah Starzz in the Western Conference.

While not the first major women's professional basketball league in the United States (a distinction held by the defunct WBL), the WNBA is the only league to receive full backing of the NBA. The WNBA logo, "Logo Woman", paralleled the NBA logo and was selected out of 50 different designs.

[edit] Late 1990s: The Comets Dynasty
On the heels of a much-publicized gold medal run by the 1996 USA Basketball Women's National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the WNBA began its first season on June 21, 1997 to little fanfare. The first WNBA game featured the New York Liberty facing the Los Angeles Sparks in Los Angeles. The game was televised nationally in the United States on the NBC television network. At the start of the 1997 season, the WNBA had television deals in place with NBC (NBA rights holder), and the Walt Disney Company and Hearst Corporation joint venture channels, ESPN and Lifetime Television Network, respectively. Penny Toler scored the league's first point.

The WNBA centered its marketing campaign, dubbed "We Got Next", around stars Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes. In the league's first season, Leslie's Los Angeles Sparks underperformed and Swoopes sat out much of the season due to her pregnancy. The WNBA's true star in 1997 was WNBA MVP Cynthia Cooper, Swoopes' teammate on the Houston Comets. The Comets defeated Lobo's New York Liberty in the first WNBA Championship game.

The initial "We Got Next" advertisement would run before each WNBA season until it was replaced with the "We Got Game" campaign.

In 1999, the league's chief competition, the American Basketball League, folded. Many of the ABL's star players, including several Olympic gold medalists (such as Nikki McCray and Dawn Staley) and a number of standout college performers (including Kate Starbird and Jennifer Rizzotti), then joined the rosters of WNBA teams and, in so doing, enhanced the overall quality of play in the league. When a lockout resulted in an abbreviated NBA season, the WNBA saw faltering TV viewership.

Four teams were added after the 1997 season, bringing the number of teams in the league up to twelve. The 1999 season began with a collective bargaining agreement between players and the league, marking the first collective bargaining agreement to be signed in the history of women's professional sports.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's_National_Basketball_Association) www.wnba.com