WNBA: Why All the Hate?

Bobby LewisCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2009

PHOENIX - JULY 18:  Tangela Smith #50 and Le'coe Willingham #43 of the Phoenix Mercury celebrate after scoring against the Detroit Shock during the final moments of the fourth quarter of the WNBA game at US Airways Center on July 18, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mercury defeated the Shock 97-90.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

I am a huge basketball fan. I love to play basketball. I can sit down and watch basketball all day long; whether that is the NBA, international basketball, an AND1 Mixtape (or "Street Ball"), and so on and so forth.

I even like to watch the WNBA.

I am not going to pretend like I am the biggest WNBA fan on the planet, but I do enjoy watching their games, which brings me back to my initial question: Why do so many people dismiss the WNBA as bad basketball?

If you go onto any message board or comment section on the Internet that has anything to do with the WNBA, there is a good chance that a majority of the comments will downplay the WNBA or completely trash the league.


My assumption is that basketball fans do not want to give the league a fair shake.

Honestly, any true basketball fan should be able to find something—anything—to like about the WNBA.

Seriously, if you can sit through a late-March game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies, then you can watch a few WNBA games before dismissing it.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that everything about the league is great or that everybody who does not like watching doesn't have good reasons.

One of the main (credible) reasons that always seem to pop up is the excitement factor.

The WNBA is definitely not the most exciting sport you will ever watch. You will not get an argument out of me if you say that the NBA is more exciting, mainly because I feel as though that's true. But think about this:

Just as an example, there are thousands of slam dunks in a single NBA season. In the WNBA, you would be lucky to see two or three dunks in a season. There is really no way for the WNBA to compete with that.

That's not to say that the WNBA is not exciting. Once the flow of the game really gets going, the game begins to pick up, just like men's basketball.

Take the 1999 WNBA Finals for example. Teresa Weatherspoon hit what has become known simply as "The Shot," a half-court buzzer-beating prayer that gave the New York Liberty a one-point victory in Game Two that forced a Game Three.

Since the WNBA began play in the summer of 1997, the NBA has gone through plenty of star players, which is what may always keep the WNBA out of the "mainstream." From the end of the Jordan era (with the Bulls) up to now with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, the WNBA has never been able to compete in terms of star power.

The WNBA has always been more of a team-oriented league as opposed to the NBA, which has always been driven by its stars. The WNBA being team-driven may make for a more fluid game, but it won't draw in casual fans who like flashy stars who can take over a game at any moment that they choose.

But now, the WNBA may just have their superstar.

Candace Parker entered the league last season with a good amount of hype. So far, in just a little over a season's work, she has turned out to be everything that the WNBA could ask for.

The WNBA has had their fair share of "faces of the league" with names like Rebecca Lobo, Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Tamika Catchings, and (to a degree) Diana Taurasi.

But they have never had anyone like Parker.

She had people talking about herself and the WNBA after her first game. She won both the Rookie of the Year and MVP honors last season. She is a great role model for young girls all over the world. Perhaps more importantly, she appeals to more people on a mainstream level.

Before deciding that the WNBA is a second-rate league and trashing its credibility, give them a chance. Watch a few games. Watch a couple of highlight videos on YouTube.

You may be surprised that you find yourself—actually enjoying the WNBA.