Women's National Basketball Association
Encyclopedia
The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) is a women's professional basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 league in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It currently is composed of twelve teams. The league was founded on April 24, 1996 as the women's counterpart to the National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 (NBA). League play started in 1997; the regular season is currently played from June to September with the Finals
WNBA Finals
The WNBA Finals is the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the sport's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002....

 in October.

Many WNBA teams have NBA counterparts and play in the same arena. The Connecticut Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

, Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, and Tulsa Shock 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
Seattle SuperSonics
The Seattle SuperSonics were an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington that played in the Pacific and Northwest Divisions of the National Basketball Association from 1967 until 2008. Following the 2007–08 season, the team relocated to Oklahoma City, and now plays as...

 before that team's relocation
Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City
The Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City was a successful effort by the ownership group of the Seattle SuperSonics to move the team to Oklahoma City...

). In addition to those three teams, the Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 is the only other team that does not share an arena with an NBA counterpart. The four aforementioned franchises, along with the Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

 and the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 are all 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.

"We Got Next" (1997)

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
Rebecca Lobo
Rebecca Rose Lobo-Rushin is an American television basketball analyst and a former player in the professional Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 to 2003...

, Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

, and Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...

 in attendance.

The league began with eight teams: the Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

, Cleveland Rockers
Cleveland Rockers
This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

, Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 and New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 in the Eastern Conference; and the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

, Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 and Utah Starzz
Utah Starzz
The Utah Starzz were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They began play in the 1997 WNBA season as one of the league's eight original teams. The Starzz relocated, in 2003, to San Antonio, Texas where the team became the San Antonio Silver Stars...

 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.

The Houston Comets dynasty (1997–2000)

On the heels of a much-publicized gold medal run by the 1996
Basketball at the 1996 Summer Olympics
Basketball contests at the 1996 Olympic Games were held from July 20, 1996 to August 4, 1996. Games took place at the Morehouse College Gymnasium and the Georgia Dome. For the second straight Olympic games, the American men's team composed almost entirely of NBA players won the gold medal...

 USA Basketball Women's National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games
Basketball at the 1996 Summer Olympics
Basketball contests at the 1996 Olympic Games were held from July 20, 1996 to August 4, 1996. Games took place at the Morehouse College Gymnasium and the Georgia Dome. For the second straight Olympic games, the American men's team composed almost entirely of NBA players won the gold medal...

, the WNBA began its first season on June 21, 1997 to little fanfare. The first WNBA game featured the New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 facing the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 in Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

. The game was televised nationally in the United States on the NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 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
Hearst Corporation
The Hearst Corporation is an American media conglomerate based in the Hearst Tower, Manhattan in New York City, New York, United States. Founded by William Randolph Hearst as an owner of newspapers, the company's holdings now include a wide variety of media...

 joint venture channels, ESPN
ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

 and Lifetime Television
Lifetime Television
Lifetime Television, often referred to as Lifetime TV, or most commonly, Lifetime, is an American cable television specialty channel devoted to movies, sitcoms and dramas, all of which are either geared toward women or feature women in lead roles. The cable network is owned by A&E Television Networks...

 Network, respectively. Penny Toler
Penny Toler
Penny Toler was a Women's National Basketball Association basketball player. She is currently the general manager of the Los Angeles Sparks.-College years:...

 scored the league's first point.

The WNBA centered its marketing campaign, dubbed "We Got Next", around stars Rebecca Lobo
Rebecca Lobo
Rebecca Rose Lobo-Rushin is an American television basketball analyst and a former player in the professional Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 to 2003...

, Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

 and Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...

. 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
WNBA Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. MVP voting takes place immediately following the regular season. The award recipient is decided by a panel of sportswriters and...

 Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Cooper (basketball)
Cynthia Lynne Cooper is a former American basketball player who has won championships in college, the Olympics, and in the Women's National Basketball Association . She is considered by many as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the...

, Swoopes' teammate on the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

. The Comets defeated Lobo's New York Liberty in the first WNBA Championship game.

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

Two teams were added in 1998 (Detroit
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 and Washington
Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics is a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1998 season. The team is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment , who also owns the Mystics'...

) and two more in 1999 (Orlando
Orlando Miracle
The Orlando Miracle was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Orlando, Florida. They began play in the 1999 WNBA season. The Miracle relocated, in 2003,to Uncasville, Connecticut where the team became the Connecticut Sun...

 and Minnesota
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 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
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

 agreement to be signed in the history of women's professional sports
Women's professional sports
Professional athletes are distinguished from amateur athletes by virtue of being paid. Throughout the world, most top female athletes are not paid, and work full-time or part-time jobs in addition to their training, practice and competition schedules. Women's professional sports organizations defy...

.

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
Nikki McCray
Nikki McCray is a former American professional basketball player. She played in the Women's National Basketball Association for eight seasons....

 and Dawn Staley
Dawn Staley
Dawn Michelle Staley is an American basketball player and coach. Staley is a three-time Olympian and was elected to carry the United States flag at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics. She was named the University of South Carolina women's head basketball coach on May 7, 2008...

) and a number of standout college performers (including Kate Starbird
Kate Starbird
Kate Starbird is a former professional basketball player in the Women's National Basketball Association and the American Basketball League ....

 and Jennifer Rizzotti
Jennifer Rizzotti
Jennifer Rizzotti is a retired American collegiate and professional basketball player, and current Division I coach. She is the daughter of Tom Rizzotti and Carol Rizzotti.-College:...

), 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.

By the 2000 season, the WNBA had doubled in size from its initial season. Four more teams were added for the 2000 season (the Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, the Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, the Miami Sol
Miami Sol
The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

, and the Portland Fire
Portland Fire
The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

).

On May 23, 2000, the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 became the first WNBA team to be invited to the White House Rose Garden
White House Rose Garden
The White House Rose Garden is a garden bordering the Oval Office and the West Wing of the White House. The garden is approximately 125 feet long and 60 feet wide...

. This was important to the WNBA's growth because before this invitation, only men's sports teams had traveled to the White House.

At the end of the 2000 season, the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 won their fourth championship, capturing every title since the league's inception. Led by the "Big Three" of Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...

, Tina Thompson
Tina Thompson
Tina Marie Thompson is a professional basketball player in the WNBA for the Los Angeles Sparks. The first draft pick in WNBA history, Thompson was selected first by the Houston Comets. She helped lead the Comets to four WNBA Championships...

, and four-time Finals MVP
WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Finals Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season....

 Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Lynne Cooper is a former American basketball player who has won championships in college, the Olympics, and in the Women's National Basketball Association . She is considered by many as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the...

, the Comets dominated every team in the league. Under head coach Van Chancellor
Van Chancellor
Van Chancellor is the former Louisiana State University women's basketball coach. He was named head coach on April 11, 2007, replacing Pokey Chatman. In 2001, Van Chancellor was elected to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Knoxville, Tennessee...

, the team posted a 98–24 record through their first four seasons (16–3 in the Playoffs
WNBA Playoffs
The WNBA Playoffs is a best-of-three elimination tournament between eight teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association , ultimately deciding the final two teams who will play in the WNBA Finals....

). After 2000, Cooper retired from the league and the Comets dynasty came to an end.

Lisa Leslie and the Los Angeles Sparks (2001–2002)

Going into the 2001 season, Houston faltered without Cooper and fell to fourth place in the conference by the end of the season. The top contender was the league's marquee team, the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

. The Sparks were predicted to win the earlier championships but the team could never get past the dominating Comets. Led by Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

, the most dominating post player at the time, the Sparks posted an outstanding regular season record of 28–4. They advanced to their first ever WNBA Finals
WNBA Finals
The WNBA Finals is the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the sport's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002....

 and swept the fourth-seeded Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

 from the Eastern Conference
Eastern Conference (WNBA)
The Eastern Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Eastern Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Western Conference...

.
Looking to repeat in 2002, the Sparks again made a strong run toward the postseason, going 25–7 in the regular season under head coach Michael Cooper, formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

. Again, Leslie dominated opponents throughout the Playoffs, leading the Sparks to a perfect 6–0 record through all three rounds, beating rival New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 in the 2002 Finals
2002 WNBA Finals
The 2002 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2002 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the New York Liberty, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to none in a...

.

Teams and the league were collectively owned by the NBA until the end of 2002, when the NBA sold WNBA teams either to their NBA counterparts in the same city or to a third party. This led to two teams moving; Utah to San Antonio
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

 and Orlando to Connecticut
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

. With the move, the Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

 became the first WNBA team to be owned by a third party instead of an NBA
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 franchise. This sale of teams also led to two teams folding, the Miami Sol
Miami Sol
The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

 and Portland Fire
Portland Fire
The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

, because new owners could not be found.

Bill Laimbeer leaves his mark on the WNBA (2003–2006)

After taking over a struggling franchise in 2002, former Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are a franchise of the National Basketball Association based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The team's home arena is The Palace of Auburn Hills. It was originally founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the Fort Wayne Pistons as a member of the National Basketball League in 1941, where...

 Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer
William "Bill" Laimbeer, Jr. is a retired National Basketball Association player for the Detroit Pistons. Playing at center, the 6'11" Laimbeer was a four-time All-Star and integral part of the Pistons teams that won two championships...

 had high hopes for the Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 in 2003. The team was just 9–23 in 2002, but Laimbeer predicted that the Shock would win the 2003 championship. Things started well for the Shock, who had three all-stars in the 2003 All-Star Game
2003 WNBA All-Star Game
The 2003 WNBA All-Star Game was played on July 12, 2003 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, home of the New York Liberty. This is the second time New York hosted the contest after previously hosting the 1999 game...

 (Swin Cash
Swin Cash
Swintayla Marie Cash , better known as Swin Cash, is an American WNBA player who plays for the Seattle Storm. A prolific scorer and rebounder, as well as a capable ball handler and defender, she helped lead the University of Connecticut women's basketball team to national titles in 2000 and 2002...

, Cheryl Ford
Cheryl Ford
Cheryl Ford is a professional basketball player in the WNBA.-Personal information:Cheryl Ford is the daughter of Bonita Ford and former NBA player Karl Malone.-High school:...

, and Deanna Nolan
Deanna Nolan
Deanna "Tweety" Nicole Nolan is an American professional basketball player for the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, but occasionally plays the point guard position...

). Amazingly, Laimbeer orchestrated a rare worst-to-first turnaround and the Shock finished the season 25–9 in first place in the Eastern Conference. Winning the first two rounds of the Playoffs, the Shock had to face two-time champion Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 and reigning Finals MVP
WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Finals Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season....

 Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

 in the 2003 Finals
2003 WNBA Finals
The 2003 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2003 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, defeated the Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, two games to one in a...

. The Shock beat the Sparks, winning game three on a clutch three-pointer by Deanna Nolan
Deanna Nolan
Deanna "Tweety" Nicole Nolan is an American professional basketball player for the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, but occasionally plays the point guard position...

.

After the 2003 season
2003 WNBA season
-External links:***...

, the Cleveland Rockers
Cleveland Rockers
This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

, one of the league's original eight teams, folded because the owners were unwilling to continue operating the franchise.

On October 21, 2004, Val Ackerman
Val Ackerman
Valerie B. "Val" Ackerman was born on November 7, 1959 in Lakewood Township, New Jersey but grew up in Pennington, New Jersey, United States. She is an attorney, sports executive, and former basketball player...

, the first WNBA president, announced her resignation, effective February 1, 2005, citing the desire to spend more time with her family. Ackerman later became president of USA Basketball
USA Basketball
USA Basketball is a non-profit organization and the governing body for basketball in the United States. The organization represents the United States in FIBA and the men's and women's national basketball teams in the United States Olympic Committee...

.

On February 15, 2005, NBA
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 Commissioner David Stern
David Stern
David Joel Stern is the commissioner of the National Basketball Association. He started with the Association in 1966 as an outside counsel, joined the NBA in 1978 as General Counsel, and became the league's Executive Vice President in 1980. He became Commissioner in 1984 succeeding Larry O'Brien...

 announced that Donna Orender
Donna Orender
Donna Orender is a sports executive and a former collegiate and professional basketball player. She was recently president of the WNBA. She grew up on Long Island, New York and was a five-sport athlete in high school, lettering in basketball, field hockey, volleyball, softball, and tennis. She is...

, who had been serving as the Senior Vice President of the PGA Tour
PGA Tour
The PGA Tour is the organizer of the main men's professional golf tours in the United States and North America...

 and who had played for several teams in the now-defunct Women's Pro Basketball League, would be Ackerman's successor as of April 2005.

The WNBA awarded its first real expansion team
Expansion team
An expansion team is a brand new team in a sports league. The term is most commonly used in reference to the North American major professional sports leagues, but is applied to sports leagues worldwide that use a closed franchise system of league membership. The term comes from the expansion of the...

 to Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 (later named the Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

) in February 2006. In the off-season, a set of rule changes was approved that made the WNBA more like the NBA.

In 2006, the league became the first team-oriented women's professional sports league to exist for ten consecutive seasons. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary, the WNBA released its All-Decade Team
WNBA's All-Decade Team
The Women's National Basketball Association's All-Decade Team was chosen in 2006 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary and 10th season of the WNBA from amongst 30 nominees compiled by the league by fan, media, coach, and player voting...

, comprising the ten WNBA players deemed to have contributed, through on-court play and off-court activities, the most to women's basketball during the period of the league's existence.

After missing out on the Finals in 2004 and 2005, the Shock bounced back in 2006 behind newly acquired Katie Smith
Katie Smith
Katherine May "Katie" Smith is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, although she sometimes plays small forward or point guard. She is the all time leading scorer in women's professional basketball, having notched over 7000 points in both...

. Along with Smith, the Shock still had six remaining members from their 2003 Finals run (Cash
Swin Cash
Swintayla Marie Cash , better known as Swin Cash, is an American WNBA player who plays for the Seattle Storm. A prolific scorer and rebounder, as well as a capable ball handler and defender, she helped lead the University of Connecticut women's basketball team to national titles in 2000 and 2002...

, Ford
Cheryl Ford
Cheryl Ford is a professional basketball player in the WNBA.-Personal information:Cheryl Ford is the daughter of Bonita Ford and former NBA player Karl Malone.-High school:...

, Holland-Corn
Kedra Holland-Corn
Kedra Holland-Corn is a WNBA basketball player. After attending the University of Georgia, she played for the Sacramento Monarchs and Houston Comets, and now plays for the Detroit Shock....

, Nolan
Deanna Nolan
Deanna "Tweety" Nicole Nolan is an American professional basketball player for the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, but occasionally plays the point guard position...

, Powell
Elaine Powell
Elaine Powell is a professional basketball player. A point guard, she played in the WNBA from 1999 to 2008.-College career:In two years at LSU, Powell averaged 19.1 points per game...

, and Riley
Ruth Riley
Ruth Ellen Riley is an American professional basketball player for the San Antonio Silver Stars in the Women's National Basketball Association . Her Notre Dame team won the NCAA women's championship in 2001, and her Detroit Shock team won the WNBA championship in 2003 and 2006...

). Head coach Laimbeer knew how difficult it was to get to the Finals a second time and the Shock were up for the challenge. They finished second in the Eastern Conference, but knocked off first-seeded Connecticut
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

 in the second round of the Playoffs. The Shock had to face reigning champion Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 in a five game series. The Shock won game five on their home floor, again solidifying their power in the league.

Bringing "Paul Ball" to the WNBA (2007–2009)

In December 2006, the Charlotte Bobcats
Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats is a professional basketball team based in Charlotte, North Carolina. They play in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association. The Bobcats were established in 2004 as an expansion team, two seasons after Charlotte's previous NBA...

 organization announced it would no longer operate the Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

. Soon after, the WNBA announced that the Sting would not operate for 2007. A dispersal draft was held January 8, 2007. Teams selected in inverse order of their 2006 records; Chicago
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 received the first pick and selected Monique Currie
Monique Currie
Monique Currie is a WNBA basketball player who plays for the Washington Mystics.Currie was traded from the Chicago Sky during the 2007 season in exchange for Chasity Melvin...

.

Former Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

 championship coach Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead is a basketball coach who is currently the head coach of the University of Oregon women's team...

 was named head coach of the Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

 on October 11, 2005, bringing his up-tempo style of play to the WNBA. This fast-paced offense was perfect for his team, especially after the league shortened the shot clock from 30 seconds to 24 seconds in 2006. Much like the early Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 championship teams, the Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

 had risen to prominence led by their own "Big Three" of Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the New York Liberty in the WNBA. She was born in Oceanside, California and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Pondexter is known for her scrappy play, quick crossovers and deadly midrange jumpshot...

, Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi
Diana Lorena Taurasi is a professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Galatasaray Medical Park from Turkey...

, and Penny Taylor.

The Mercury were well-suited for fast offense behind these three players. Phoenix averaged a league-record 88.97 points per game in 2007; teams could not keep up with the new style of play, and the Mercury were propelled into first place in the Western Conference. Facing the reigning champion Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

, the Mercury imposed their high-scoring offense with hopes of capturing their first title in franchise history. Averaging 93.2 points per game in the Finals series
2007 WNBA Finals
The 2007 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2007 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to two in a...

, the Mercury beat Detroit on their home floor in front of 22,076 fans in game five to claim their first ever WNBA title.
In October 2007 the WNBA awarded another expansion franchise to Atlanta. Atlanta businessman Ron Terwilliger was the original owner of the new team. Citizens of Atlanta were able to vote for their choices for the new team's nickname and colors. The Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

, as they were named, played their first regular season game on May 17, which was a 67-100 loss to the Connecticut Sun.

Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead is a basketball coach who is currently the head coach of the University of Oregon women's team...

 resigned from the Mercury after capturing the 2007 title and Penny Taylor opted to stay home
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 to prepare for the 2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

, causing the Mercury to falter in 2008. The team posted a 16–18 record and became the first team in WNBA history to miss the Playoffs after winning the championship in the previous season. In their place, the Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 won their third championship under coach Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer
William "Bill" Laimbeer, Jr. is a retired National Basketball Association player for the Detroit Pistons. Playing at center, the 6'11" Laimbeer was a four-time All-Star and integral part of the Pistons teams that won two championships...

, solidifying their place in WNBA history before Laimbeer resigned early in 2009, effectively ending the Shock dynasty.

Late in 2008, the WNBA took over ownership of one of the league's original franchises, the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

. The Comets ceased operations on December 1, 2008 after no owners for the franchise could be found. A dispersal draft took place on December 8, 2008 and with the first pick, Sancho Lyttle
Sancho Lyttle
Sancho Lyttle is a professional basketball player born in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with Spanish citizenship. She is currently a power forward in the WNBA for the Atlanta Dream. Through her career, she has scored 1,505 points, collected 1,041 rebounds, and has 200 assists, 242 steals, and...

 was taken by the Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

.

After an unsatisfying conclusion in 2008, the Mercury looked to bounce back to championship caliber. New head coach Corey Gaines
Corey Gaines
Corey Yasuto Gaines is an American former professional basketball player and the current coach of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury....

 implemented Paul Westhead's
Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead is a basketball coach who is currently the head coach of the University of Oregon women's team...

 style of play, and the Mercury averaged 92.82 points per game throughout the 2009 season. Helped by the return of Penny Taylor, the Mercury once again locked up first place in the Western Conference and advanced to the 2009 Finals
2009 WNBA Finals
The 2009 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2009 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Indiana Fever, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, faced the Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference...

. The championship series was a battle of contrasting styles as the Mercury (number one league offense, 92.82 points per game) had to face the Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 (number three league defense, 73.55 points per game). The series went five games, including arguably one of the most thrilling games in WNBA history in game one of the series (Phoenix won in overtime, 120–116. The Mercury beat the Fever in game five, this time on their home court, to capture their second WNBA championship.

Not only did Paul Westhead's system influence his Mercury team, but it created a domino effect throughout the league. Young athletic players were capable of scoring more and playing at a faster pace. As a league, the 2010 average of 80.35 points per game was the best ever, far surpassing the 69.2 average in the league's inaugural season
1997 WNBA Season
-External links:*...

.

Changing of the guard (2010–present)

On October 20, 2009 the WNBA announced that the Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 would relocate to Tulsa
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 46th-largest city in the United States. With a population of 391,906 as of the 2010 census, it is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 937,478 residents in the MSA and 988,454 in the CSA. Tulsa's...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

; the team is called the Tulsa Shock On November 20, 2009, the WNBA announced that the Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 had folded due to lack of support from its current owners, the Maloof family
Maloof family
The Maloof family owns numerous business properties in the Western United States. The origin of the family name is Maalouf and is of Levantine descent; the family is Lebanese via their paternal grandfather. The Maloofs are the owners of the Sacramento Kings of the NBA . The family consists of...

, also the owners of the Sacramento Kings
Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are a professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California, United States. They are currently members of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association...

. The league announced it would seek new owners to relocate the team to the San Francisco Bay area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

; however, no ownership was found and a dispersal draft was held on December 14, 2009.

The 2010 season saw a tight race in the East
Eastern Conference (WNBA)
The Eastern Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Eastern Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Western Conference...

, with three teams being tied for first place on the final day of the regular season. Five of the six teams in the East were in first place at some point during the season. The East held a .681 winning percentage over the West
Western Conference (WNBA)
The Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Western Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Eastern Conference...

, its highest ever. In the 2010 Finals
2010 WNBA Finals
The 2010 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2010 season of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the season's playoffs...

, two new teams represented each conference: the Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 and the Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

. Seattle made their first finals appearance since winning it all in 2004
2004 WNBA Finals
The 2004 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2004 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Seattle Storm, second-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to one in a...

 and Atlanta, coming into the playoffs as a four seed, impressively swept its opponents in the first two rounds to advance to the Finals in only the third year of the team's existence.
After the 2010 season, President Orender announced she would be resigning from her position as of December 31. On April 21, 2011, NBA commissioner David Stern
David Stern
David Joel Stern is the commissioner of the National Basketball Association. He started with the Association in 1966 as an outside counsel, joined the NBA in 1978 as General Counsel, and became the league's Executive Vice President in 1980. He became Commissioner in 1984 succeeding Larry O'Brien...

 announced that former Girl Scouts of the USA
Girl Scouts of the USA
The Girl Scouts of the United States of America is a youth organization for girls in the United States and American girls living abroad. It describes itself as "the world's preeminent organization dedicated solely to girls". It was founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912 and was organized after Low...

 Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie is the current president of the Women's National Basketball Association .-Prior to the WNBA:Before the WNBA, Richie served as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Girl Scouts of the USA...

 would assume duties as President on May 16, 2011.

The 2011 season began with strong publicity helped by the rising young stars of the league and the NBA lockout. Many news outlets began covering the league more frequently. NBA TV
NBA TV
NBA TV is a television specialty channel that is dedicated to showcasing the sport of basketball in the United States. The network is financially backed by the National Basketball Association , which also uses NBA TV as a way of advertising their out of market package NBA League Pass, and partner...

, the television home of the NBA scheduled over 70 regular season games to be televised (along with a dozen more on ESPN2 and ABC
ESPN on ABC
ESPN on ABC is the brand used for sports programming on the ABC television network. Officially the broadcast network retains its own sports division; however, for all practical purposes, ABC's sports division has been merged with ESPN, a sports cable network majority-owned by ABC's parent, The...

). The new influx of young talent into the league gave many teams something to be excited about. Players like Candace Parker
Candace Parker
Candace Nicole Parker is an All-American basketball player for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks and is also the younger sister of NBA player Anthony Parker. She was drafted to the team from Tennessee in 2008...

 of the Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, Maya Moore
Maya Moore
Maya April Moore is an American basketball forward for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA and Ros Casares Valencia of Euroleague. Moore was the winner of the 2006 and 2007 Naismith Prep Player of the Year. She was selected as the John Wooden Award winner in 2009 after leading Connecticut to the...

 of the Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...

, Angel McCoughtry
Angel McCoughtry
Angel Lajuane McCoughtry is a professional basketball player who completed her college career at the University of Louisville in 2009. She was selected first overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2009 WNBA Draft and is considered its franchise player...

 of the Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

, Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Shaqueria Fowles is an American professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky in the WNBA. She is 6 ft 6 in tall and weighs 200 lbs .-Personal:...

 of the Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

, Tina Charles
Tina Charles (basketball)
Tina Charles is an American women's basketball player with the Connecticut Sun of the Women's National Basketball Association and the Galatasaray Medical Park of the TWBL. Originally from Jamaica, New York, Charles was drafted 1st overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft...

 of the Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

, and Liz Cambage
Liz Cambage
Elizabeth "Liz" Cambage is an Australian basketball player who plays for the Bulleen Boomers of the Women's National Basketball League and the Tulsa Shock of the Women's National Basketball Association . She is also a member of the Australia women's national basketball team.Cambage was born in...

 of the Shock brought a new level of excitement to the game, adding talent to the teams of young veterans such as Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi
Diana Lorena Taurasi is a professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Galatasaray Medical Park from Turkey...

, Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx, WBC Spartak Moscow Region and the US national team...

 and Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the New York Liberty in the WNBA. She was born in Oceanside, California and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Pondexter is known for her scrappy play, quick crossovers and deadly midrange jumpshot...

. The level of play was getting better, as evidenced by higher scoring, better defense, and higher shooting percentages. Fans responded to the new stars in the league; by the end of the 2011 regular season
2011 WNBA season
The 2011 WNBA season is the 15th season of the Women's National Basketball Association. The regular season began on June 3 with the Los Angeles Sparks hosting the Minnesota Lynx, featuring 2011 WNBA Draft top pick Maya Moore, in a game televised on NBA TV...

, nine of the twelve teams in the league had increased attendance over their 2010 averages.

The new influx of talented young players showed that the league's longevity gave young girls something to aspire to. Rookies coming into the league had the luxury of growing up watching veterans like Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Lynne Cooper is a former American basketball player who has won championships in college, the Olympics, and in the Women's National Basketball Association . She is considered by many as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the...

, Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

 and Teresa Weatherspoon
Teresa Weatherspoon
-Personal:Weatherspoon was born to Charles and Rowena Weatherspoon in Pineland, Texas. Her father, Charles Sr., played minor league baseball in the Minnesota Twins' farm system, and holds the record for the most grand slams in a minor league game. Weatherspoon has two brothers and three sisters...

. For the first time ever, young girls could now look at the WNBA as an opportunity for basketball to continue after college.

The new players delivered in 2011. Connecticut Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

 center Tina Charles
Tina Charles (basketball)
Tina Charles is an American women's basketball player with the Connecticut Sun of the Women's National Basketball Association and the Galatasaray Medical Park of the TWBL. Originally from Jamaica, New York, Charles was drafted 1st overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft...

 set a league record for double-doubles in a season with 23. Also, Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Shaqueria Fowles is an American professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky in the WNBA. She is 6 ft 6 in tall and weighs 200 lbs .-Personal:...

 of the Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 became only the second player in WNBA history to finish a season averaging at least 20 points (20.0ppg) and 10 rebounds (10.2rpg) per game. The San Antonio Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

 experienced boosts from their young players as well; rookie Danielle Adams
Danielle Adams
Danielle E. Adams is an American forward-center. She played college basketball at Texas A&M. She is the first Texas A&M player to be named an Associated Press first-team All-American. She also captured first team All-American honors from the WBCA...

 scored 32 points off the bench in June and fellow rookie Danielle Robinson
Danielle Robinson
Danielle Robinson is a basketball player who most recently played for the San Antonio Silver Stars of the Women's National Basketball Association.-WNBA:Robinson was selected the first round of the 2011 WNBA Draft by the San Antonio Silver Stars....

 had a 36-point game in September. Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

 forward Angel McCoughtry
Angel McCoughtry
Angel Lajuane McCoughtry is a professional basketball player who completed her college career at the University of Louisville in 2009. She was selected first overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2009 WNBA Draft and is considered its franchise player...

 was the first player in league history to average over 20 points per game (21.6ppg) while playing under 30 minutes per game (27.9mpg).

McCoughtry led her team to the Finals
2011 WNBA Finals
The 2011 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2011 season of the Women's National Basketball Association , and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Minnesota Lynx, champions of the Western Conference, swept the champions of the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Dream in three...

 for the second straight year, but despite breaking her own Finals scoring record, the Dream was swept for the second straight year, this time by the Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...

, which won its first title behind a fully healthy Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx, WBC Spartak Moscow Region and the US national team...

.

Other developments

The WNBA Players Association threatened to strike in 2003 if a new deal was not worked out between players and the league. The result was a delay in the start of the 2003 preseason. The 2003 WNBA Draft
2003 WNBA Draft
The 2003 WNBA Draft, both the dispersal draft and the regular WNBA draft, took place on April 24. The dispersal draft involved players from the rosters of the Portland Fire and Miami Sol teams which had both folded after the 2002 season....

 was also delayed and negative publicity was gained from this strike.

In 2007, the WNBA and ESPN
ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

 came to an 8-year television agreement. The agreement would be the first to pay television rights fees to the league's teams. Never before has an agreement promised rights fees to a women's professional league. The agreement runs from 2009 to 2016 and is worth millions of dollars.

During the 2008 regular season, the first ever outdoor professional basketball game in North America was played at Arthur Ashe Stadium
Arthur Ashe Stadium
Arthur Ashe Stadium, a part of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center located within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the New York City borough of Queens, is the main tennis stadium of the US Open, the last of each year's four Grand Slam tournaments, and also where the annual Arthur Ashe...

 in New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 between the New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 and the Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 in front of over 19,000 fans. The Fever won the game 71-55.

Prior to the 2009 season, the maximum team roster size was changed from 13 players (11 active and 2 inactive) to 11 players (all active). Any team that falls below nine players able to play due to injury or any other factor outside of the control of the team will, upon request, be granted a roster hardship exception allowing the team to sign an additional player or players so that the team will have nine players able to play in an upcoming game or games. As soon as the injured (or otherwise sidelined) player(s) is able to play, the roster hardship player(s)—not any other player on the roster—must be waived.

Before the start of the 2011 season, every team announced a new look for their uniforms. The supplier of the uniforms for the league, Adidas
Adidas
Adidas AG is a German sports apparel manufacturer and parent company of the Adidas Group, which consists of the Reebok sportswear company, TaylorMade-Adidas golf company , and Rockport...

, upgraded all teams to new high-tech designs, much like they did for the NBA prior to the start of their season.

The 2011 NBA Lockout
2011 NBA lockout
The 2011 NBA lockout is the fourth lockout in the history of the National Basketball Association . The owners began the work stoppage at 12:01 am EDT on July 1, 2011. The main issues dividing the owners and the players are revenue sharing and the structure of the salary cap...

 began on July 1, 2011. Unlike the previous lockout, which affected the WNBA, president Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie is the current president of the Women's National Basketball Association .-Prior to the WNBA:Before the WNBA, Richie served as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Girl Scouts of the USA...

 confirmed that this lockout would have no effect on the WNBA. If the NBA season was shortened or canceled, the 2012 WNBA season (including the WNBA teams still owned by NBA owners) would run as planned.

International influence

A number of international players have played in the WNBA, such as: Svetlana Abrosimova
Svetlana Abrosimova
Svetlana Olegovna Abrosimova is a Russian basketball player who has played in college, the Olympics, and in professional leagues. She currently plays for the Seattle Storm in the WNBA. She is usually called by her nickname, "Svet" or "Sveta".Abrosimova was born in Leningrad, Russian SFSR,...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 – won a championship with the Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 in 2010
2010 WNBA Finals
The 2010 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2010 season of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the season's playoffs...

 Elena Baranova
Elena Baranova
Elena Viktorovna Baranova is a Russian professional basketball player. She is a former Women's National Basketball Association player, where she became the first player from Europe in 1997 WNBA inaugural season, the first All-Star from Russia in 2001 and played for the New York Liberty until the...

, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

 – the first international player in the WNBA (1997
1997 WNBA Season
-External links:*...

). Erika de Souza
Erika de Souza
Érika Cristina de Souza is a Brazilian professional women's basketball player with the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA in the United States. Prior to joining the Dream for their inaugural 2008 season, DeSouza was a member of the Los Angeles Sparks in 2002, with whom she played in 11 games...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 – one-time All-Star (2009
2009 WNBA All-Star Game
The 2009 WNBA All-Star Game was played on July 25, 2009 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, home of the Connecticut Sun. The game was the 9th annual WNBA All-Star Game...

) Iziane Castro Marques
Iziane Castro Marques
Iziane "Izi" Castro Marques is a Brazilian professional basketball player. The six-foot forward is a mainstay of the Brazil women's national basketball team, and a starting small forward on the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA.The undrafted Castro Marques was signed by the Miami Sol as a free agent out...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 – one-time All-Star (2010
2010 WNBA All-Star Game
The Stars at the Sun game was played on July 10, 2010 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, home of the Connecticut Sun. This game, unlike previous non-Olympic year games, was a contest between the USA women's national team and a team of WNBA All-Stars. This game is not considered a WNBA...

) Margo Dydek
Margo Dydek
Małgorzata Dydek , known as Margo Dydek in the United States, was a Polish international professional basketball player. Standing tall, she was famous for being the tallest active professional female basketball player in the world...

, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 – tallest woman to play in the WNBA at 7' 2" (2.18 m) Sandrine Gruda
Sandrine Gruda
Sandrine Gruda is a French professional basketball player. She currently plays the center position for the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA.-Before the WNBA:...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Lauren Jackson
Lauren Jackson
Lauren Elizabeth Jackson is an Australian professional basketball player. Jackson began her professional career at the Australian Institute of Sport in the WNBL before moving on to the Canberra Capitals. She is currently a forward/centre with the Seattle Storm of the WNBA and the Australian...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 – two-time champion (2004
2004 WNBA Finals
The 2004 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2004 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Seattle Storm, second-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to one in a...

, 2010
2010 WNBA Finals
The 2010 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2010 season of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the season's playoffs...

), three-time MVP and eight-time All-Star Anete Jēkabsone-Žogota, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 Yelena Leuchanka
Yelena Leuchanka
Yelena Leuchanka is a Belarusian professional women's basketball player with the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA in the United States. Prior to joining the Dream for their inaugural 2008 season, Leuchanka was a member of the Charlotte Sting in 2006 and Washington Mystics in 2007. She began her college...

, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 Mwadi Mabika
Mwadi Mabika
Mwadi Mabika is a Congolese basketball player and an All-Star in the Women's National Basketball Association ....

, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 – won championships with the Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 in 2001 and 2002
2002 WNBA Finals
The 2002 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2002 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the New York Liberty, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to none in a...

 Hamchétou Maïga-Ba
Hamchétou Maïga
Hamchétou Maïga-Ba is a Malian professional women's basketball player most recently with the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA. She is also a member of the Mali women's national basketball team.-At Old Dominion:...

, Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 – won a championship with the Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 in 2005
2005 WNBA Finals
The 2005 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2005 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Sacramento Monarchs, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to one in a...

 Evanthia Maltsi
Evanthia Maltsi
Evanthia Maltsi is a Greek professional basketball player. In 2007, she played the guard position for the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA.-WNBA career:Maltsi played for the Sun for one season...

, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 Razija Mujanovic
Razija Mujanovic
Razija Mujanović is a retired Bosnian basketball player. She started her career in Jedinstvo Aida, Tuzla, and continued in Italy, Spain, Brazil, USA, Croatia and Hungary...

, Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 Eva Němcová
Eva Němcová
Eva Horáková, née Němcová is Czech professional basketball player. The youngest of three children of Jiřina Němcová and Zdeněk Němec, she began her basketball career at the age of 18. In 1992, she played for the Czech Republic national team in that year's Summer Olympics, which finished at sixth...

, Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

 Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro is a Portuguese professional basketball player who plays for Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA...

, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 – won a championship with the Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 in 2005
2005 WNBA Finals
The 2005 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2005 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Sacramento Monarchs, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to one in a...

 and four-time All-Star Kathrin Ress
Kathrin Ress
Kathrin Ress is an Italian professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx....

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Penny Taylor, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 – two-time champion (2007
2007 WNBA Finals
The 2007 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2007 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to two in a...

, 2009
2009 WNBA Finals
The 2009 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2009 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Indiana Fever, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, faced the Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference...

) and four-time All-Star Tammy Sutton-Brown
Tammy Sutton-Brown
Tamara "Tammy" Kim Sutton-Brown is a Canadian professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. Her primary position is center.-High school years:...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 – two-time All-Star Amaya Valdemoro
Amaya Valdemoro
Amaya Valdemoro Madariaga is a Spanish professional women's basketball player.-WNBA:Valdemoro was selected with the 30th overall pick in the 1998 WNBA Draft by the Houston Comets...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 Ann Wauters
Ann Wauters
Ann Hilde Willy Wauters is a Belgian professional basketball player who currently plays for Ros Casares Valencia in Euroleague Women. Wauters played in the WNBA from 2000 to 2009, most recently with the San Antonio Silver Stars. Her primary position is center.-Personal:Wauters began playing...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 Sophia Young
Sophia Young
Sophia Yvonne Ashley Young is a Vincentian professional women's basketball player with the San Antonio Silver Stars in the WNBA...

, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Lesser Antilles chain, namely in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, which lie at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean....

 – four-time All-Star Haixia Zheng
Haixia Zheng
Zheng Haixia is a Chinese retired professional women's basketball player for the China women's national basketball team and the Women's National Basketball Association.-International career:...

, China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...



Note that some of these players, among them Abrosimova, Leuchanka, Maïga-Ba, Penicheiro, Sutton-Brown, and Young, played U.S. college basketball.

Milestones


Teams

The WNBA originated with 8 teams in 1997, and through a sequence of expansions, contractions, and relocations currently consists of 12 teams. There have been a total of 18 franchises in WNBA history. Most WNBA teams are associated with the NBA team from the same market and are known as sister teams. These teams include the Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers are a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are members of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association...

 and Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, the Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

 and Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, the Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves are an American professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association . Founded in 1989, the team is currently owned by Glen Taylor...

 and Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...

, the New York Knicks
New York Knicks
The New York Knickerbockers, prominently known as the Knicks, are a professional basketball team based in New York City. They are part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association...

 and Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

, the Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns are a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association and the only team in their division not to be based in California. Their home arena since 1992 has been the US...

 and Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

, the Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are an American professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are part of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association .-The first years:...

 and the Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

, the San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs are an American professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas. They are part of the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association ....

 and the Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

, and the Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards are a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., previously known as Washington Bullets. They play in the National Basketball Association .-Early years:...

 and Mystics
Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics is a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1998 season. The team is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment , who also owns the Mystics'...

. Of these teams, only the Dream and the Sparks are owned separately. Though located in the same market, the Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 are not affiliated with the Bulls
Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls are an American professional basketball team based in Chicago, Illinois, playing in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association . The team was founded in 1966. They play their home games at the United Center...

, as evidenced by the home arena they play (the Sky play at Allstate Arena
Allstate Arena
Allstate Arena is a multi-purpose arena, in Rosemont, Illinois.It is home to the Chicago Rush, of the Arena Football League, DePaul University's men's basketball team, the Chicago Wolves, of the AHL, and the Chicago Sky, of the WNBA.It is located near the intersection of Mannheim Road and...

 in nearby Rosemont
Rosemont, Illinois
Rosemont is a village in Cook County, Illinois, United States located immediately northwest of Chicago. The village was incorporated in 1956, though it had been settled long before that...

, as opposed to the Bulls playing at United Center
United Center
The United Center is an indoor sports arena located in Chicago. It is named after its corporate sponsor, United Airlines. The United Center is home to both the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association and the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League...

). The now defunct Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

, Miami Sol
Miami Sol
The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

, Portland Fire
Portland Fire
The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

, Cleveland Rockers
Cleveland Rockers
This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

, Orlando Miracle
Orlando Miracle
The Orlando Miracle was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Orlando, Florida. They began play in the 1999 WNBA season. The Miracle relocated, in 2003,to Uncasville, Connecticut where the team became the Connecticut Sun...

, Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 and Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 were also sister teams of the Hornets, Heat
Miami Heat
The Miami Heat is a professional basketball team based in Miami, Florida, United States. The team is a member of the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association . They play their home games at American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami...

, Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers, commonly known as the Blazers, are an American professional basketball team based in Portland, Oregon. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association . The Trail Blazers originally played their home games in the...

, Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a professional basketball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They began playing in the National Basketball Association in 1970 as an expansion team...

, Magic
Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic is a professional basketball team based in Orlando, Florida. They play in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association and are currently coached by Stan Van Gundy...

, Rockets
Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. The team plays in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association . The team was established in 1967, and played in San Diego, California for four years, before being...

 and Kings
Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are a professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California, United States. They are currently members of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association...

, respectively. The Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 was the sister team of the Pistons
Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are a franchise of the National Basketball Association based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The team's home arena is The Palace of Auburn Hills. It was originally founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the Fort Wayne Pistons as a member of the National Basketball League in 1941, where...

 until the teams' owner sold the Shock to investors who moved the team to Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 46th-largest city in the United States. With a population of 391,906 as of the 2010 census, it is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 937,478 residents in the MSA and 988,454 in the CSA. Tulsa's...

. The team is not currently affiliated with Oklahoma's NBA team, the Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a professional basketball franchise based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association ; their home court is at Chesapeake Energy Arena....

, but Shock owners left the door open for a future affiliation. The Shock are also one of two teams sharing a market with an NBA Development League
NBA Development League
The NBA Development League, or NBA D-League, is the National Basketball Association's official minor league basketball organization. Known until summer 2005 as the National Basketball Development League , the NBA D-League started with eight teams in the fall of 2001...

 team, sharing with the Thunder's affiliates, the Tulsa 66ers
Tulsa 66ers
The Tulsa 66ers are an NBA Development League team based in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the minor league affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their logo design is a basketball behind mountains with a road leading up to them, all on a U.S...

; the Sparks also share with the Los Angeles D-Fenders
Los Angeles D-Fenders
The Los Angeles D-Fenders are a NBA Development League team based in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 2006, the team is owned by the Los Angeles Lakers, which became the first National Basketball Association franchise to own a D-League team...

. The Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 was the sister team of the now relocated
Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City
The Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City was a successful effort by the ownership group of the Seattle SuperSonics to move the team to Oklahoma City...

 SuperSonics
Seattle SuperSonics
The Seattle SuperSonics were an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington that played in the Pacific and Northwest Divisions of the National Basketball Association from 1967 until 2008. Following the 2007–08 season, the team relocated to Oklahoma City, and now plays as...

.

As of the 2011 WNBA season
2011 WNBA season
The 2011 WNBA season is the 15th season of the Women's National Basketball Association. The regular season began on June 3 with the Los Angeles Sparks hosting the Minnesota Lynx, featuring 2011 WNBA Draft top pick Maya Moore, in a game televised on NBA TV...

, the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

, Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

, and the San Antonio Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

 (formerly Utah Starzz
Utah Starzz
The Utah Starzz were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They began play in the 1997 WNBA season as one of the league's eight original teams. The Starzz relocated, in 2003, to San Antonio, Texas where the team became the San Antonio Silver Stars...

) are the only remaining franchises that were founded in 1997.

Former teams

  • Charlotte Sting
    Charlotte Sting
    The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

     – 1997–2006 (folded)
  • Cleveland Rockers
    Cleveland Rockers
    This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

     – 1997–2003 (folded)
  • Detroit Shock
    Detroit Shock
    The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

     – 1998–2009 (relocated; became the Tulsa Shock)
  • Houston Comets
    Houston Comets
    The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

     – 1997–2008 (folded)
  • Miami Sol
    Miami Sol
    The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

     – 2000–2002 (folded)
  • Orlando Miracle
    Orlando Miracle
    The Orlando Miracle was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Orlando, Florida. They began play in the 1999 WNBA season. The Miracle relocated, in 2003,to Uncasville, Connecticut where the team became the Connecticut Sun...

     – 1999–2002 (relocated; became the Connecticut Sun
    Connecticut Sun
    The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

    )
  • Portland Fire
    Portland Fire
    The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

     – 2000–2002 (folded)
  • Sacramento Monarchs
    Sacramento Monarchs
    The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

     – 1997–2009 (folded)
  • Utah Starzz
    Utah Starzz
    The Utah Starzz were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They began play in the 1997 WNBA season as one of the league's eight original teams. The Starzz relocated, in 2003, to San Antonio, Texas where the team became the San Antonio Silver Stars...

     – 1997–2002 (relocated; became the San Antonio Silver Stars
    San Antonio Silver Stars
    The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

    )

Potential additions

In 2007, investors took steps to re-create the Colorado Chill
Colorado Chill
The Colorado Chill were a professional women's basketball team playing in the National Women's Basketball League from 2004-2006. Based in Loveland, Colorado, they were Colorado's second and longest-lived women's pro basketball team...

, a previously successful franchise in the now-defunct NWBL
National Women's Basketball League
The National Women's Basketball League, often abbreviated to the NWBL, was an organization governing professional basketball leagues for women in the United States. The league was founded in 1997 and began play in the Fall of that year. The league used to have its own season during the off-season...

, as a WNBA expansion team. In September 2007, Chill backers announced that they had not raised enough money to join the WNBA for the 2008 season.

In August 2008, Norm Freedman, whose history with basketball dates back about 35 years, headed a group of investors interested in bringing a WNBA franchise to play out of the Ricoh Coliseum
Ricoh Coliseum
Ricoh Coliseum is an ice hockey and agricultural arena at Exhibition Place in Toronto. It serves as the home arena of the Toronto Marlies, the American Hockey League farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Toronto Triumph of the Lingerie Football League. It was formerly known as the CNE...

 in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. "The prospects are better than 50%," Freedman said. "The WNBA is quite positive, and so am I, that a team in Toronto will do well."

In 2008, news surfaced that the WNBA was focusing on Nashville
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 as a possible site for expansion. Former President Donna Orender
Donna Orender
Donna Orender is a sports executive and a former collegiate and professional basketball player. She was recently president of the WNBA. She grew up on Long Island, New York and was a five-sport athlete in high school, lettering in basketball, field hockey, volleyball, softball, and tennis. She is...

 claimed that "Tennessee is so logical" referring to the success of women's college basketball in that area.

The city of Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 may see a WNBA team in the future. Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon announced that the WNBA said Baltimore may be a location for a WNBA expansion team if a new arena is built in the city.

Former President Orender announced that the league would attempt to secure ownership for a team in the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

 in the near future.

The WNBA Draft

Every spring, the WNBA Draft
WNBA Draft
The WNBA Draft is an annual draft held by the WNBA through which WNBA teams can select new players from a talent pool of college and professional women's basketball players. The first WNBA draft was held in 1997...

 is held at ESPN headquarters in Bristol
Bristol, Connecticut
Bristol is a suburban city located in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States southwest of Hartford. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 61,353. Bristol is primarily known as the home of ESPN, whose central studios are in the city. Bristol is also home to...

, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

. From 2005 to 2008, the draft was held in the city that hosted the NCAA Women's Final Four
NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship
The NCAA Women's Division I Championship is an annual college basketball tournament for women. Held each April, the Women's Championship was inaugurated in the 1981–82 season...

. In 2009 and 2010, the draft was held at league headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey
Secaucus, New Jersey
Secaucus is a town in Hudson County, New Jersey. As of the 2010 United States Census, the town population was 16,264. Located within the New Jersey Meadowlands, it is the most suburban of the county's municipalities, though large parts of the town are dedicated to light manufacturing, retail, and...

. The draft is currently three rounds long with each of the 12 teams in the league (trades aside) getting three picks each. Draft order for teams that made the playoffs the previous year are based on team records. The team with the highest previous record will pick last. Since eight teams qualify for playoffs
WNBA Playoffs
The WNBA Playoffs is a best-of-three elimination tournament between eight teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association , ultimately deciding the final two teams who will play in the WNBA Finals....

, the bottom eight picks are determined by this method. For the remaining top four picks, a selection process similar to the NBA Draft Lottery
NBA Draft Lottery
The NBA Draft Lottery is an annual event held by the National Basketball Association in which the teams who had missed the playoffs in the previous season, or teams who hold the draft rights of another team that missed the playoffs in the previous season, participate in a lottery process to...

 is conducted for the four teams that did not qualify for the playoffs.

Regular season

Following the winter break, teams hold training camps in May. Training camps allow the coaching staff to evaluate players (especially rookies), scout the team's strengths and weaknesses, prepare the players for the rigorous regular season, and determine the 11-woman roster with which they will begin the regular season. After training camp, a series of preseason exhibition games are held. The WNBA regular season begins in May.

During the regular season, each team plays 34 games, 17 each home and away. Each team plays three in-conference teams 4 times each (12 games) and two in-conference teams 5 times each (10 games). Each team then plays the six out-of-conference teams twice (12 games). As in the NBA, each team hosts and visits every other team at least once every season.

WNBA All-Star Game

In July, the regular season pauses to celebrate the annual WNBA All-Star Game. The game is part of a weekend-long event, held in a selected WNBA city each year. The actual game is played on the selected WNBA team's home court. The All-Star Game features star players from the Western Conference facing star players from the Eastern Conference. During the season, fans get to vote for the players they would like to see start the game. In 2004, The Game at Radio City was in held in place of a traditional All-Star Game. The 2006 All-Star Game was the first game to feature custom uniforms that match the decade anniversary logo. Due to the Olympics, there was no WNBA All-Star Game in 2008. In 2010, an exhibition game (Stars at the Sun) was held.

Shortly after the All-Star break is the trading deadline. After this date, teams are not allowed to exchange players with each other for the remainder of the season, although they may still sign and release players. Major trades are often completed right before the trading deadline, making that day a hectic time for general managers.

Awards

Around the beginning of September, the regular season ends. It is during this time that voting begins for individual awards. The Sixth Woman of the Year Award
WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Sixth Woman of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 2007 WNBA season to the league's most valuable player for her team coming off the bench as a substitute . A panel of sportswriters and broadcasters...

 is given to the best player coming off the bench (must have more games coming off the bench than actual games started). The Rookie of the Year Award
WNBA Rookie of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Rookie of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 1998 WNBA season, to the top rookie of the regular season. The winner is selected by a panel of sportswriters throughout the United States, each of whom...

 is awarded to the most outstanding first-year player. The Most Improved Player Award
WNBA Most Improved Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Most Improved Player Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 2000 WNBA season, to the most improved player of the regular season. The winner is selected by a panel of sportswriters throughout the United States,...

 is awarded to the player who is deemed to have shown the most improvement from the previous season. The Defensive Player of the Year Award
WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Defensive Player of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season, to the top defensive player of the regular season...

 is awarded to the league's best defender. The Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
The Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season, to the player who most "exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court—ethical behavior, fair play and integrity." This is the same criterion used by the...

 is awarded to the player who shows the outstanding sportsmanship on and off the court. The Coach of the Year Award
WNBA Coach of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Coach of the Year is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. The winner is selected at the end of regular season by a panel of sportswriters from the United States, each of whom casts a vote...

 is awarded to the coach that has made the most positive difference to a team. The Most Valuable Player Award
WNBA Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. MVP voting takes place immediately following the regular season. The award recipient is decided by a panel of sportswriters and...

 is given to player deemed the most valuable for (her team) that season.

Also named are the All-WNBA Teams, the All-Defensive Teams
WNBA All-Defensive Team
The WNBA All-Defensive Team is an annual Women's National Basketball Association honor given since the 2005 WNBA season to the best defensive players during the regular season. Voting is conducted by the WNBA head coaches who are not allowed to vote for players on their own team...

, and the All-Rookie Team
WNBA All-Rookie Team
The WNBA All-Rookie Team is an annual Women's National Basketball Association honor given since the 2005 WNBA season to the top rookies during the regular season. Voting is conducted by the WNBA head coaches, who are not allowed to vote for players on their own team. Each coach selects five...

; each consists of five players. There are two All-WNBA teams, consisting of the top players at each position, with first-team status being the most desirable. There are two All-Defensive teams, consisting of the top defenders at each position. There is one All-Rookie team, consisting of the top first-year players regardless of position.

2011 Award Winners


Olympic-year seasons

During years in which the Summer Olympics are held, the WNBA takes a month off in the middle of the season to allow players to practice and compete with their respective national teams. Most recently for the 2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

 held in Beijing, China
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, most of August was taken off. The regular season ran from May 17, 2008 to September 14, 2008 (the Olympic break was from July 28, 2008 to August 27, 2008). The WNBA Playoffs
WNBA Playoffs
The WNBA Playoffs is a best-of-three elimination tournament between eight teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association , ultimately deciding the final two teams who will play in the WNBA Finals....

 and WNBA Finals
WNBA Finals
The WNBA Finals is the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the sport's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002....

 led into October.

The WNBA Playoffs

The WNBA Playoffs currently begin in late September, with four teams in each conference qualifying for the playoffs. Having a higher seed offers several advantages. Since the first seed plays the fourth seed, and the second seed plays the third seed, having a higher seed generally means one will be facing a weaker team. The team in each series with the better record has home court advantage.

The first two playoff rounds follow a tournament format with each team playing a rival in a best-of-three series, with the first team to win two games advancing into the next round, while the other team is eliminated from the playoffs. For the first round, the matchups by seed are 1st vs 4th and 2nd vs 3rd. In the second round, the successful team plays against the other advancing team of the same conference. This leaves one surviving team from each conference. In both rounds, the best-of-three series follows a 1-1-1 home-court pattern, meaning that the higher-seeded team will have home court in games 1 and 3 while the other team plays at home in game 2. This pattern has been in place since 2010 (changed from 1-2 format, where the lower seed hosted the opening game).

The WNBA Finals

The final playoff round, a best-of-five series between the victors of each conference, is known as the WNBA Finals, and is held annually, currently scheduled for October. Each player on the winning team receives a championship ring. In addition, the league awards a WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Finals Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season....

. For this round, the series follows a 2-2-1 pattern, meaning that one team will have home court in games 1, 2, and 5, while the other plays at home in games 3 and 4. The 2-2-1 pattern in the WNBA Finals has been in place since 2005.

{| class="toccolours" width=90% style="clear:both; margin:1.5em auto; text-align:center;"
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! colspan=2 style="background:#FFE6BD; color:#000000" | The WNBA Finals
|- valign="top"
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The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) is a women's professional basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 league in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It currently is composed of twelve teams. The league was founded on April 24, 1996 as the women's counterpart to the National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 (NBA). League play started in 1997; the regular season is currently played from June to September with the Finals
WNBA Finals
The WNBA Finals is the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the sport's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002....

 in October.

Many WNBA teams have NBA counterparts and play in the same arena. The Connecticut Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

, Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, and Tulsa Shock 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
Seattle SuperSonics
The Seattle SuperSonics were an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington that played in the Pacific and Northwest Divisions of the National Basketball Association from 1967 until 2008. Following the 2007–08 season, the team relocated to Oklahoma City, and now plays as...

 before that team's relocation
Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City
The Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City was a successful effort by the ownership group of the Seattle SuperSonics to move the team to Oklahoma City...

). In addition to those three teams, the Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 is the only other team that does not share an arena with an NBA counterpart. The four aforementioned franchises, along with the Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

 and the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 are all 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.

"We Got Next" (1997)

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
Rebecca Lobo
Rebecca Rose Lobo-Rushin is an American television basketball analyst and a former player in the professional Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 to 2003...

, Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

, and Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...

 in attendance.

The league began with eight teams: the Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

, Cleveland Rockers
Cleveland Rockers
This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

, Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 and New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 in the Eastern Conference; and the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

, Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 and Utah Starzz
Utah Starzz
The Utah Starzz were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They began play in the 1997 WNBA season as one of the league's eight original teams. The Starzz relocated, in 2003, to San Antonio, Texas where the team became the San Antonio Silver Stars...

 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.

The Houston Comets dynasty (1997–2000)

On the heels of a much-publicized gold medal run by the 1996
Basketball at the 1996 Summer Olympics
Basketball contests at the 1996 Olympic Games were held from July 20, 1996 to August 4, 1996. Games took place at the Morehouse College Gymnasium and the Georgia Dome. For the second straight Olympic games, the American men's team composed almost entirely of NBA players won the gold medal...

 USA Basketball Women's National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games
Basketball at the 1996 Summer Olympics
Basketball contests at the 1996 Olympic Games were held from July 20, 1996 to August 4, 1996. Games took place at the Morehouse College Gymnasium and the Georgia Dome. For the second straight Olympic games, the American men's team composed almost entirely of NBA players won the gold medal...

, the WNBA began its first season on June 21, 1997 to little fanfare. The first WNBA game featured the New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 facing the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 in Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

. The game was televised nationally in the United States on the NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 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
Hearst Corporation
The Hearst Corporation is an American media conglomerate based in the Hearst Tower, Manhattan in New York City, New York, United States. Founded by William Randolph Hearst as an owner of newspapers, the company's holdings now include a wide variety of media...

 joint venture channels, ESPN
ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

 and Lifetime Television
Lifetime Television
Lifetime Television, often referred to as Lifetime TV, or most commonly, Lifetime, is an American cable television specialty channel devoted to movies, sitcoms and dramas, all of which are either geared toward women or feature women in lead roles. The cable network is owned by A&E Television Networks...

 Network, respectively. Penny Toler
Penny Toler
Penny Toler was a Women's National Basketball Association basketball player. She is currently the general manager of the Los Angeles Sparks.-College years:...

 scored the league's first point.

The WNBA centered its marketing campaign, dubbed "We Got Next", around stars Rebecca Lobo
Rebecca Lobo
Rebecca Rose Lobo-Rushin is an American television basketball analyst and a former player in the professional Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 to 2003...

, Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

 and Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...

. 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
WNBA Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. MVP voting takes place immediately following the regular season. The award recipient is decided by a panel of sportswriters and...

 Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Cooper (basketball)
Cynthia Lynne Cooper is a former American basketball player who has won championships in college, the Olympics, and in the Women's National Basketball Association . She is considered by many as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the...

, Swoopes' teammate on the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

. The Comets defeated Lobo's New York Liberty in the first WNBA Championship game.

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

Two teams were added in 1998 (Detroit
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 and Washington
Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics is a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1998 season. The team is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment , who also owns the Mystics'...

) and two more in 1999 (Orlando
Orlando Miracle
The Orlando Miracle was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Orlando, Florida. They began play in the 1999 WNBA season. The Miracle relocated, in 2003,to Uncasville, Connecticut where the team became the Connecticut Sun...

 and Minnesota
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 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
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

 agreement to be signed in the history of women's professional sports
Women's professional sports
Professional athletes are distinguished from amateur athletes by virtue of being paid. Throughout the world, most top female athletes are not paid, and work full-time or part-time jobs in addition to their training, practice and competition schedules. Women's professional sports organizations defy...

.

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
Nikki McCray
Nikki McCray is a former American professional basketball player. She played in the Women's National Basketball Association for eight seasons....

 and Dawn Staley
Dawn Staley
Dawn Michelle Staley is an American basketball player and coach. Staley is a three-time Olympian and was elected to carry the United States flag at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics. She was named the University of South Carolina women's head basketball coach on May 7, 2008...

) and a number of standout college performers (including Kate Starbird
Kate Starbird
Kate Starbird is a former professional basketball player in the Women's National Basketball Association and the American Basketball League ....

 and Jennifer Rizzotti
Jennifer Rizzotti
Jennifer Rizzotti is a retired American collegiate and professional basketball player, and current Division I coach. She is the daughter of Tom Rizzotti and Carol Rizzotti.-College:...

), 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.

By the 2000 season, the WNBA had doubled in size from its initial season. Four more teams were added for the 2000 season (the Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, the Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, the Miami Sol
Miami Sol
The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

, and the Portland Fire
Portland Fire
The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

).

On May 23, 2000, the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 became the first WNBA team to be invited to the White House Rose Garden
White House Rose Garden
The White House Rose Garden is a garden bordering the Oval Office and the West Wing of the White House. The garden is approximately 125 feet long and 60 feet wide...

. This was important to the WNBA's growth because before this invitation, only men's sports teams had traveled to the White House.

At the end of the 2000 season, the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 won their fourth championship, capturing every title since the league's inception. Led by the "Big Three" of Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...

, Tina Thompson
Tina Thompson
Tina Marie Thompson is a professional basketball player in the WNBA for the Los Angeles Sparks. The first draft pick in WNBA history, Thompson was selected first by the Houston Comets. She helped lead the Comets to four WNBA Championships...

, and four-time Finals MVP
WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Finals Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season....

 Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Lynne Cooper is a former American basketball player who has won championships in college, the Olympics, and in the Women's National Basketball Association . She is considered by many as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the...

, the Comets dominated every team in the league. Under head coach Van Chancellor
Van Chancellor
Van Chancellor is the former Louisiana State University women's basketball coach. He was named head coach on April 11, 2007, replacing Pokey Chatman. In 2001, Van Chancellor was elected to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Knoxville, Tennessee...

, the team posted a 98–24 record through their first four seasons (16–3 in the Playoffs
WNBA Playoffs
The WNBA Playoffs is a best-of-three elimination tournament between eight teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association , ultimately deciding the final two teams who will play in the WNBA Finals....

). After 2000, Cooper retired from the league and the Comets dynasty came to an end.

Lisa Leslie and the Los Angeles Sparks (2001–2002)

Going into the 2001 season, Houston faltered without Cooper and fell to fourth place in the conference by the end of the season. The top contender was the league's marquee team, the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

. The Sparks were predicted to win the earlier championships but the team could never get past the dominating Comets. Led by Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

, the most dominating post player at the time, the Sparks posted an outstanding regular season record of 28–4. They advanced to their first ever WNBA Finals
WNBA Finals
The WNBA Finals is the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the sport's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002....

 and swept the fourth-seeded Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

 from the Eastern Conference
Eastern Conference (WNBA)
The Eastern Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Eastern Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Western Conference...

.
Looking to repeat in 2002, the Sparks again made a strong run toward the postseason, going 25–7 in the regular season under head coach Michael Cooper, formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

. Again, Leslie dominated opponents throughout the Playoffs, leading the Sparks to a perfect 6–0 record through all three rounds, beating rival New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 in the 2002 Finals
2002 WNBA Finals
The 2002 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2002 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the New York Liberty, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to none in a...

.

Teams and the league were collectively owned by the NBA until the end of 2002, when the NBA sold WNBA teams either to their NBA counterparts in the same city or to a third party. This led to two teams moving; Utah to San Antonio
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

 and Orlando to Connecticut
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

. With the move, the Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

 became the first WNBA team to be owned by a third party instead of an NBA
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 franchise. This sale of teams also led to two teams folding, the Miami Sol
Miami Sol
The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

 and Portland Fire
Portland Fire
The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

, because new owners could not be found.

Bill Laimbeer leaves his mark on the WNBA (2003–2006)

After taking over a struggling franchise in 2002, former Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are a franchise of the National Basketball Association based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The team's home arena is The Palace of Auburn Hills. It was originally founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the Fort Wayne Pistons as a member of the National Basketball League in 1941, where...

 Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer
William "Bill" Laimbeer, Jr. is a retired National Basketball Association player for the Detroit Pistons. Playing at center, the 6'11" Laimbeer was a four-time All-Star and integral part of the Pistons teams that won two championships...

 had high hopes for the Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 in 2003. The team was just 9–23 in 2002, but Laimbeer predicted that the Shock would win the 2003 championship. Things started well for the Shock, who had three all-stars in the 2003 All-Star Game
2003 WNBA All-Star Game
The 2003 WNBA All-Star Game was played on July 12, 2003 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, home of the New York Liberty. This is the second time New York hosted the contest after previously hosting the 1999 game...

 (Swin Cash
Swin Cash
Swintayla Marie Cash , better known as Swin Cash, is an American WNBA player who plays for the Seattle Storm. A prolific scorer and rebounder, as well as a capable ball handler and defender, she helped lead the University of Connecticut women's basketball team to national titles in 2000 and 2002...

, Cheryl Ford
Cheryl Ford
Cheryl Ford is a professional basketball player in the WNBA.-Personal information:Cheryl Ford is the daughter of Bonita Ford and former NBA player Karl Malone.-High school:...

, and Deanna Nolan
Deanna Nolan
Deanna "Tweety" Nicole Nolan is an American professional basketball player for the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, but occasionally plays the point guard position...

). Amazingly, Laimbeer orchestrated a rare worst-to-first turnaround and the Shock finished the season 25–9 in first place in the Eastern Conference. Winning the first two rounds of the Playoffs, the Shock had to face two-time champion Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 and reigning Finals MVP
WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Finals Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season....

 Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

 in the 2003 Finals
2003 WNBA Finals
The 2003 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2003 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, defeated the Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, two games to one in a...

. The Shock beat the Sparks, winning game three on a clutch three-pointer by Deanna Nolan
Deanna Nolan
Deanna "Tweety" Nicole Nolan is an American professional basketball player for the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, but occasionally plays the point guard position...

.

After the 2003 season
2003 WNBA season
-External links:***...

, the Cleveland Rockers
Cleveland Rockers
This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

, one of the league's original eight teams, folded because the owners were unwilling to continue operating the franchise.

On October 21, 2004, Val Ackerman
Val Ackerman
Valerie B. "Val" Ackerman was born on November 7, 1959 in Lakewood Township, New Jersey but grew up in Pennington, New Jersey, United States. She is an attorney, sports executive, and former basketball player...

, the first WNBA president, announced her resignation, effective February 1, 2005, citing the desire to spend more time with her family. Ackerman later became president of USA Basketball
USA Basketball
USA Basketball is a non-profit organization and the governing body for basketball in the United States. The organization represents the United States in FIBA and the men's and women's national basketball teams in the United States Olympic Committee...

.

On February 15, 2005, NBA
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 Commissioner David Stern
David Stern
David Joel Stern is the commissioner of the National Basketball Association. He started with the Association in 1966 as an outside counsel, joined the NBA in 1978 as General Counsel, and became the league's Executive Vice President in 1980. He became Commissioner in 1984 succeeding Larry O'Brien...

 announced that Donna Orender
Donna Orender
Donna Orender is a sports executive and a former collegiate and professional basketball player. She was recently president of the WNBA. She grew up on Long Island, New York and was a five-sport athlete in high school, lettering in basketball, field hockey, volleyball, softball, and tennis. She is...

, who had been serving as the Senior Vice President of the PGA Tour
PGA Tour
The PGA Tour is the organizer of the main men's professional golf tours in the United States and North America...

 and who had played for several teams in the now-defunct Women's Pro Basketball League, would be Ackerman's successor as of April 2005.

The WNBA awarded its first real expansion team
Expansion team
An expansion team is a brand new team in a sports league. The term is most commonly used in reference to the North American major professional sports leagues, but is applied to sports leagues worldwide that use a closed franchise system of league membership. The term comes from the expansion of the...

 to Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 (later named the Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

) in February 2006. In the off-season, a set of rule changes was approved that made the WNBA more like the NBA.

In 2006, the league became the first team-oriented women's professional sports league to exist for ten consecutive seasons. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary, the WNBA released its All-Decade Team
WNBA's All-Decade Team
The Women's National Basketball Association's All-Decade Team was chosen in 2006 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary and 10th season of the WNBA from amongst 30 nominees compiled by the league by fan, media, coach, and player voting...

, comprising the ten WNBA players deemed to have contributed, through on-court play and off-court activities, the most to women's basketball during the period of the league's existence.

After missing out on the Finals in 2004 and 2005, the Shock bounced back in 2006 behind newly acquired Katie Smith
Katie Smith
Katherine May "Katie" Smith is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, although she sometimes plays small forward or point guard. She is the all time leading scorer in women's professional basketball, having notched over 7000 points in both...

. Along with Smith, the Shock still had six remaining members from their 2003 Finals run (Cash
Swin Cash
Swintayla Marie Cash , better known as Swin Cash, is an American WNBA player who plays for the Seattle Storm. A prolific scorer and rebounder, as well as a capable ball handler and defender, she helped lead the University of Connecticut women's basketball team to national titles in 2000 and 2002...

, Ford
Cheryl Ford
Cheryl Ford is a professional basketball player in the WNBA.-Personal information:Cheryl Ford is the daughter of Bonita Ford and former NBA player Karl Malone.-High school:...

, Holland-Corn
Kedra Holland-Corn
Kedra Holland-Corn is a WNBA basketball player. After attending the University of Georgia, she played for the Sacramento Monarchs and Houston Comets, and now plays for the Detroit Shock....

, Nolan
Deanna Nolan
Deanna "Tweety" Nicole Nolan is an American professional basketball player for the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, but occasionally plays the point guard position...

, Powell
Elaine Powell
Elaine Powell is a professional basketball player. A point guard, she played in the WNBA from 1999 to 2008.-College career:In two years at LSU, Powell averaged 19.1 points per game...

, and Riley
Ruth Riley
Ruth Ellen Riley is an American professional basketball player for the San Antonio Silver Stars in the Women's National Basketball Association . Her Notre Dame team won the NCAA women's championship in 2001, and her Detroit Shock team won the WNBA championship in 2003 and 2006...

). Head coach Laimbeer knew how difficult it was to get to the Finals a second time and the Shock were up for the challenge. They finished second in the Eastern Conference, but knocked off first-seeded Connecticut
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

 in the second round of the Playoffs. The Shock had to face reigning champion Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 in a five game series. The Shock won game five on their home floor, again solidifying their power in the league.

Bringing "Paul Ball" to the WNBA (2007–2009)

In December 2006, the Charlotte Bobcats
Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats is a professional basketball team based in Charlotte, North Carolina. They play in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association. The Bobcats were established in 2004 as an expansion team, two seasons after Charlotte's previous NBA...

 organization announced it would no longer operate the Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

. Soon after, the WNBA announced that the Sting would not operate for 2007. A dispersal draft was held January 8, 2007. Teams selected in inverse order of their 2006 records; Chicago
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 received the first pick and selected Monique Currie
Monique Currie
Monique Currie is a WNBA basketball player who plays for the Washington Mystics.Currie was traded from the Chicago Sky during the 2007 season in exchange for Chasity Melvin...

.

Former Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

 championship coach Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead is a basketball coach who is currently the head coach of the University of Oregon women's team...

 was named head coach of the Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

 on October 11, 2005, bringing his up-tempo style of play to the WNBA. This fast-paced offense was perfect for his team, especially after the league shortened the shot clock from 30 seconds to 24 seconds in 2006. Much like the early Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 championship teams, the Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

 had risen to prominence led by their own "Big Three" of Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the New York Liberty in the WNBA. She was born in Oceanside, California and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Pondexter is known for her scrappy play, quick crossovers and deadly midrange jumpshot...

, Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi
Diana Lorena Taurasi is a professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Galatasaray Medical Park from Turkey...

, and Penny Taylor.

The Mercury were well-suited for fast offense behind these three players. Phoenix averaged a league-record 88.97 points per game in 2007; teams could not keep up with the new style of play, and the Mercury were propelled into first place in the Western Conference. Facing the reigning champion Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

, the Mercury imposed their high-scoring offense with hopes of capturing their first title in franchise history. Averaging 93.2 points per game in the Finals series
2007 WNBA Finals
The 2007 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2007 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to two in a...

, the Mercury beat Detroit on their home floor in front of 22,076 fans in game five to claim their first ever WNBA title.
In October 2007 the WNBA awarded another expansion franchise to Atlanta. Atlanta businessman Ron Terwilliger was the original owner of the new team. Citizens of Atlanta were able to vote for their choices for the new team's nickname and colors. The Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

, as they were named, played their first regular season game on May 17, which was a 67-100 loss to the Connecticut Sun.

Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead is a basketball coach who is currently the head coach of the University of Oregon women's team...

 resigned from the Mercury after capturing the 2007 title and Penny Taylor opted to stay home
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 to prepare for the 2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

, causing the Mercury to falter in 2008. The team posted a 16–18 record and became the first team in WNBA history to miss the Playoffs after winning the championship in the previous season. In their place, the Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 won their third championship under coach Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer
William "Bill" Laimbeer, Jr. is a retired National Basketball Association player for the Detroit Pistons. Playing at center, the 6'11" Laimbeer was a four-time All-Star and integral part of the Pistons teams that won two championships...

, solidifying their place in WNBA history before Laimbeer resigned early in 2009, effectively ending the Shock dynasty.

Late in 2008, the WNBA took over ownership of one of the league's original franchises, the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

. The Comets ceased operations on December 1, 2008 after no owners for the franchise could be found. A dispersal draft took place on December 8, 2008 and with the first pick, Sancho Lyttle
Sancho Lyttle
Sancho Lyttle is a professional basketball player born in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with Spanish citizenship. She is currently a power forward in the WNBA for the Atlanta Dream. Through her career, she has scored 1,505 points, collected 1,041 rebounds, and has 200 assists, 242 steals, and...

 was taken by the Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

.

After an unsatisfying conclusion in 2008, the Mercury looked to bounce back to championship caliber. New head coach Corey Gaines
Corey Gaines
Corey Yasuto Gaines is an American former professional basketball player and the current coach of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury....

 implemented Paul Westhead's
Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead is a basketball coach who is currently the head coach of the University of Oregon women's team...

 style of play, and the Mercury averaged 92.82 points per game throughout the 2009 season. Helped by the return of Penny Taylor, the Mercury once again locked up first place in the Western Conference and advanced to the 2009 Finals
2009 WNBA Finals
The 2009 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2009 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Indiana Fever, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, faced the Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference...

. The championship series was a battle of contrasting styles as the Mercury (number one league offense, 92.82 points per game) had to face the Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 (number three league defense, 73.55 points per game). The series went five games, including arguably one of the most thrilling games in WNBA history in game one of the series (Phoenix won in overtime, 120–116. The Mercury beat the Fever in game five, this time on their home court, to capture their second WNBA championship.

Not only did Paul Westhead's system influence his Mercury team, but it created a domino effect throughout the league. Young athletic players were capable of scoring more and playing at a faster pace. As a league, the 2010 average of 80.35 points per game was the best ever, far surpassing the 69.2 average in the league's inaugural season
1997 WNBA Season
-External links:*...

.

Changing of the guard (2010–present)

On October 20, 2009 the WNBA announced that the Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 would relocate to Tulsa
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 46th-largest city in the United States. With a population of 391,906 as of the 2010 census, it is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 937,478 residents in the MSA and 988,454 in the CSA. Tulsa's...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

; the team is called the Tulsa Shock On November 20, 2009, the WNBA announced that the Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 had folded due to lack of support from its current owners, the Maloof family
Maloof family
The Maloof family owns numerous business properties in the Western United States. The origin of the family name is Maalouf and is of Levantine descent; the family is Lebanese via their paternal grandfather. The Maloofs are the owners of the Sacramento Kings of the NBA . The family consists of...

, also the owners of the Sacramento Kings
Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are a professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California, United States. They are currently members of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association...

. The league announced it would seek new owners to relocate the team to the San Francisco Bay area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

; however, no ownership was found and a dispersal draft was held on December 14, 2009.

The 2010 season saw a tight race in the East
Eastern Conference (WNBA)
The Eastern Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Eastern Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Western Conference...

, with three teams being tied for first place on the final day of the regular season. Five of the six teams in the East were in first place at some point during the season. The East held a .681 winning percentage over the West
Western Conference (WNBA)
The Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Western Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Eastern Conference...

, its highest ever. In the 2010 Finals
2010 WNBA Finals
The 2010 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2010 season of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the season's playoffs...

, two new teams represented each conference: the Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 and the Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

. Seattle made their first finals appearance since winning it all in 2004
2004 WNBA Finals
The 2004 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2004 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Seattle Storm, second-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to one in a...

 and Atlanta, coming into the playoffs as a four seed, impressively swept its opponents in the first two rounds to advance to the Finals in only the third year of the team's existence.
After the 2010 season, President Orender announced she would be resigning from her position as of December 31. On April 21, 2011, NBA commissioner David Stern
David Stern
David Joel Stern is the commissioner of the National Basketball Association. He started with the Association in 1966 as an outside counsel, joined the NBA in 1978 as General Counsel, and became the league's Executive Vice President in 1980. He became Commissioner in 1984 succeeding Larry O'Brien...

 announced that former Girl Scouts of the USA
Girl Scouts of the USA
The Girl Scouts of the United States of America is a youth organization for girls in the United States and American girls living abroad. It describes itself as "the world's preeminent organization dedicated solely to girls". It was founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912 and was organized after Low...

 Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie is the current president of the Women's National Basketball Association .-Prior to the WNBA:Before the WNBA, Richie served as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Girl Scouts of the USA...

 would assume duties as President on May 16, 2011.

The 2011 season began with strong publicity helped by the rising young stars of the league and the NBA lockout. Many news outlets began covering the league more frequently. NBA TV
NBA TV
NBA TV is a television specialty channel that is dedicated to showcasing the sport of basketball in the United States. The network is financially backed by the National Basketball Association , which also uses NBA TV as a way of advertising their out of market package NBA League Pass, and partner...

, the television home of the NBA scheduled over 70 regular season games to be televised (along with a dozen more on ESPN2 and ABC
ESPN on ABC
ESPN on ABC is the brand used for sports programming on the ABC television network. Officially the broadcast network retains its own sports division; however, for all practical purposes, ABC's sports division has been merged with ESPN, a sports cable network majority-owned by ABC's parent, The...

). The new influx of young talent into the league gave many teams something to be excited about. Players like Candace Parker
Candace Parker
Candace Nicole Parker is an All-American basketball player for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks and is also the younger sister of NBA player Anthony Parker. She was drafted to the team from Tennessee in 2008...

 of the Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, Maya Moore
Maya Moore
Maya April Moore is an American basketball forward for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA and Ros Casares Valencia of Euroleague. Moore was the winner of the 2006 and 2007 Naismith Prep Player of the Year. She was selected as the John Wooden Award winner in 2009 after leading Connecticut to the...

 of the Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...

, Angel McCoughtry
Angel McCoughtry
Angel Lajuane McCoughtry is a professional basketball player who completed her college career at the University of Louisville in 2009. She was selected first overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2009 WNBA Draft and is considered its franchise player...

 of the Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

, Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Shaqueria Fowles is an American professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky in the WNBA. She is 6 ft 6 in tall and weighs 200 lbs .-Personal:...

 of the Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

, Tina Charles
Tina Charles (basketball)
Tina Charles is an American women's basketball player with the Connecticut Sun of the Women's National Basketball Association and the Galatasaray Medical Park of the TWBL. Originally from Jamaica, New York, Charles was drafted 1st overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft...

 of the Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

, and Liz Cambage
Liz Cambage
Elizabeth "Liz" Cambage is an Australian basketball player who plays for the Bulleen Boomers of the Women's National Basketball League and the Tulsa Shock of the Women's National Basketball Association . She is also a member of the Australia women's national basketball team.Cambage was born in...

 of the Shock brought a new level of excitement to the game, adding talent to the teams of young veterans such as Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi
Diana Lorena Taurasi is a professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Galatasaray Medical Park from Turkey...

, Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx, WBC Spartak Moscow Region and the US national team...

 and Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the New York Liberty in the WNBA. She was born in Oceanside, California and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Pondexter is known for her scrappy play, quick crossovers and deadly midrange jumpshot...

. The level of play was getting better, as evidenced by higher scoring, better defense, and higher shooting percentages. Fans responded to the new stars in the league; by the end of the 2011 regular season
2011 WNBA season
The 2011 WNBA season is the 15th season of the Women's National Basketball Association. The regular season began on June 3 with the Los Angeles Sparks hosting the Minnesota Lynx, featuring 2011 WNBA Draft top pick Maya Moore, in a game televised on NBA TV...

, nine of the twelve teams in the league had increased attendance over their 2010 averages.

The new influx of talented young players showed that the league's longevity gave young girls something to aspire to. Rookies coming into the league had the luxury of growing up watching veterans like Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Lynne Cooper is a former American basketball player who has won championships in college, the Olympics, and in the Women's National Basketball Association . She is considered by many as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the...

, Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

 and Teresa Weatherspoon
Teresa Weatherspoon
-Personal:Weatherspoon was born to Charles and Rowena Weatherspoon in Pineland, Texas. Her father, Charles Sr., played minor league baseball in the Minnesota Twins' farm system, and holds the record for the most grand slams in a minor league game. Weatherspoon has two brothers and three sisters...

. For the first time ever, young girls could now look at the WNBA as an opportunity for basketball to continue after college.

The new players delivered in 2011. Connecticut Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

 center Tina Charles
Tina Charles (basketball)
Tina Charles is an American women's basketball player with the Connecticut Sun of the Women's National Basketball Association and the Galatasaray Medical Park of the TWBL. Originally from Jamaica, New York, Charles was drafted 1st overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft...

 set a league record for double-doubles in a season with 23. Also, Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Shaqueria Fowles is an American professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky in the WNBA. She is 6 ft 6 in tall and weighs 200 lbs .-Personal:...

 of the Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 became only the second player in WNBA history to finish a season averaging at least 20 points (20.0ppg) and 10 rebounds (10.2rpg) per game. The San Antonio Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

 experienced boosts from their young players as well; rookie Danielle Adams
Danielle Adams
Danielle E. Adams is an American forward-center. She played college basketball at Texas A&M. She is the first Texas A&M player to be named an Associated Press first-team All-American. She also captured first team All-American honors from the WBCA...

 scored 32 points off the bench in June and fellow rookie Danielle Robinson
Danielle Robinson
Danielle Robinson is a basketball player who most recently played for the San Antonio Silver Stars of the Women's National Basketball Association.-WNBA:Robinson was selected the first round of the 2011 WNBA Draft by the San Antonio Silver Stars....

 had a 36-point game in September. Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

 forward Angel McCoughtry
Angel McCoughtry
Angel Lajuane McCoughtry is a professional basketball player who completed her college career at the University of Louisville in 2009. She was selected first overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2009 WNBA Draft and is considered its franchise player...

 was the first player in league history to average over 20 points per game (21.6ppg) while playing under 30 minutes per game (27.9mpg).

McCoughtry led her team to the Finals
2011 WNBA Finals
The 2011 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2011 season of the Women's National Basketball Association , and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Minnesota Lynx, champions of the Western Conference, swept the champions of the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Dream in three...

 for the second straight year, but despite breaking her own Finals scoring record, the Dream was swept for the second straight year, this time by the Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...

, which won its first title behind a fully healthy Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx, WBC Spartak Moscow Region and the US national team...

.

Other developments

The WNBA Players Association threatened to strike in 2003 if a new deal was not worked out between players and the league. The result was a delay in the start of the 2003 preseason. The 2003 WNBA Draft
2003 WNBA Draft
The 2003 WNBA Draft, both the dispersal draft and the regular WNBA draft, took place on April 24. The dispersal draft involved players from the rosters of the Portland Fire and Miami Sol teams which had both folded after the 2002 season....

 was also delayed and negative publicity was gained from this strike.

In 2007, the WNBA and ESPN
ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

 came to an 8-year television agreement. The agreement would be the first to pay television rights fees to the league's teams. Never before has an agreement promised rights fees to a women's professional league. The agreement runs from 2009 to 2016 and is worth millions of dollars.

During the 2008 regular season, the first ever outdoor professional basketball game in North America was played at Arthur Ashe Stadium
Arthur Ashe Stadium
Arthur Ashe Stadium, a part of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center located within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the New York City borough of Queens, is the main tennis stadium of the US Open, the last of each year's four Grand Slam tournaments, and also where the annual Arthur Ashe...

 in New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 between the New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 and the Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 in front of over 19,000 fans. The Fever won the game 71-55.

Prior to the 2009 season, the maximum team roster size was changed from 13 players (11 active and 2 inactive) to 11 players (all active). Any team that falls below nine players able to play due to injury or any other factor outside of the control of the team will, upon request, be granted a roster hardship exception allowing the team to sign an additional player or players so that the team will have nine players able to play in an upcoming game or games. As soon as the injured (or otherwise sidelined) player(s) is able to play, the roster hardship player(s)—not any other player on the roster—must be waived.

Before the start of the 2011 season, every team announced a new look for their uniforms. The supplier of the uniforms for the league, Adidas
Adidas
Adidas AG is a German sports apparel manufacturer and parent company of the Adidas Group, which consists of the Reebok sportswear company, TaylorMade-Adidas golf company , and Rockport...

, upgraded all teams to new high-tech designs, much like they did for the NBA prior to the start of their season.

The 2011 NBA Lockout
2011 NBA lockout
The 2011 NBA lockout is the fourth lockout in the history of the National Basketball Association . The owners began the work stoppage at 12:01 am EDT on July 1, 2011. The main issues dividing the owners and the players are revenue sharing and the structure of the salary cap...

 began on July 1, 2011. Unlike the previous lockout, which affected the WNBA, president Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie is the current president of the Women's National Basketball Association .-Prior to the WNBA:Before the WNBA, Richie served as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Girl Scouts of the USA...

 confirmed that this lockout would have no effect on the WNBA. If the NBA season was shortened or canceled, the 2012 WNBA season (including the WNBA teams still owned by NBA owners) would run as planned.

International influence

A number of international players have played in the WNBA, such as: Svetlana Abrosimova
Svetlana Abrosimova
Svetlana Olegovna Abrosimova is a Russian basketball player who has played in college, the Olympics, and in professional leagues. She currently plays for the Seattle Storm in the WNBA. She is usually called by her nickname, "Svet" or "Sveta".Abrosimova was born in Leningrad, Russian SFSR,...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 – won a championship with the Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 in 2010
2010 WNBA Finals
The 2010 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2010 season of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the season's playoffs...

 Elena Baranova
Elena Baranova
Elena Viktorovna Baranova is a Russian professional basketball player. She is a former Women's National Basketball Association player, where she became the first player from Europe in 1997 WNBA inaugural season, the first All-Star from Russia in 2001 and played for the New York Liberty until the...

, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

 – the first international player in the WNBA (1997
1997 WNBA Season
-External links:*...

). Erika de Souza
Erika de Souza
Érika Cristina de Souza is a Brazilian professional women's basketball player with the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA in the United States. Prior to joining the Dream for their inaugural 2008 season, DeSouza was a member of the Los Angeles Sparks in 2002, with whom she played in 11 games...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 – one-time All-Star (2009
2009 WNBA All-Star Game
The 2009 WNBA All-Star Game was played on July 25, 2009 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, home of the Connecticut Sun. The game was the 9th annual WNBA All-Star Game...

) Iziane Castro Marques
Iziane Castro Marques
Iziane "Izi" Castro Marques is a Brazilian professional basketball player. The six-foot forward is a mainstay of the Brazil women's national basketball team, and a starting small forward on the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA.The undrafted Castro Marques was signed by the Miami Sol as a free agent out...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 – one-time All-Star (2010
2010 WNBA All-Star Game
The Stars at the Sun game was played on July 10, 2010 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, home of the Connecticut Sun. This game, unlike previous non-Olympic year games, was a contest between the USA women's national team and a team of WNBA All-Stars. This game is not considered a WNBA...

) Margo Dydek
Margo Dydek
Małgorzata Dydek , known as Margo Dydek in the United States, was a Polish international professional basketball player. Standing tall, she was famous for being the tallest active professional female basketball player in the world...

, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 – tallest woman to play in the WNBA at 7' 2" (2.18 m) Sandrine Gruda
Sandrine Gruda
Sandrine Gruda is a French professional basketball player. She currently plays the center position for the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA.-Before the WNBA:...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Lauren Jackson
Lauren Jackson
Lauren Elizabeth Jackson is an Australian professional basketball player. Jackson began her professional career at the Australian Institute of Sport in the WNBL before moving on to the Canberra Capitals. She is currently a forward/centre with the Seattle Storm of the WNBA and the Australian...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 – two-time champion (2004
2004 WNBA Finals
The 2004 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2004 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Seattle Storm, second-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to one in a...

, 2010
2010 WNBA Finals
The 2010 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2010 season of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the season's playoffs...

), three-time MVP and eight-time All-Star Anete Jēkabsone-Žogota, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 Yelena Leuchanka
Yelena Leuchanka
Yelena Leuchanka is a Belarusian professional women's basketball player with the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA in the United States. Prior to joining the Dream for their inaugural 2008 season, Leuchanka was a member of the Charlotte Sting in 2006 and Washington Mystics in 2007. She began her college...

, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 Mwadi Mabika
Mwadi Mabika
Mwadi Mabika is a Congolese basketball player and an All-Star in the Women's National Basketball Association ....

, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 – won championships with the Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 in 2001 and 2002
2002 WNBA Finals
The 2002 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2002 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the New York Liberty, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to none in a...

 Hamchétou Maïga-Ba
Hamchétou Maïga
Hamchétou Maïga-Ba is a Malian professional women's basketball player most recently with the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA. She is also a member of the Mali women's national basketball team.-At Old Dominion:...

, Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 – won a championship with the Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 in 2005
2005 WNBA Finals
The 2005 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2005 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Sacramento Monarchs, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to one in a...

 Evanthia Maltsi
Evanthia Maltsi
Evanthia Maltsi is a Greek professional basketball player. In 2007, she played the guard position for the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA.-WNBA career:Maltsi played for the Sun for one season...

, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 Razija Mujanovic
Razija Mujanovic
Razija Mujanović is a retired Bosnian basketball player. She started her career in Jedinstvo Aida, Tuzla, and continued in Italy, Spain, Brazil, USA, Croatia and Hungary...

, Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 Eva Němcová
Eva Němcová
Eva Horáková, née Němcová is Czech professional basketball player. The youngest of three children of Jiřina Němcová and Zdeněk Němec, she began her basketball career at the age of 18. In 1992, she played for the Czech Republic national team in that year's Summer Olympics, which finished at sixth...

, Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

 Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro is a Portuguese professional basketball player who plays for Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA...

, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 – won a championship with the Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 in 2005
2005 WNBA Finals
The 2005 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2005 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Sacramento Monarchs, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to one in a...

 and four-time All-Star Kathrin Ress
Kathrin Ress
Kathrin Ress is an Italian professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx....

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Penny Taylor, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 – two-time champion (2007
2007 WNBA Finals
The 2007 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2007 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to two in a...

, 2009
2009 WNBA Finals
The 2009 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2009 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Indiana Fever, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, faced the Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference...

) and four-time All-Star Tammy Sutton-Brown
Tammy Sutton-Brown
Tamara "Tammy" Kim Sutton-Brown is a Canadian professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. Her primary position is center.-High school years:...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 – two-time All-Star Amaya Valdemoro
Amaya Valdemoro
Amaya Valdemoro Madariaga is a Spanish professional women's basketball player.-WNBA:Valdemoro was selected with the 30th overall pick in the 1998 WNBA Draft by the Houston Comets...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 Ann Wauters
Ann Wauters
Ann Hilde Willy Wauters is a Belgian professional basketball player who currently plays for Ros Casares Valencia in Euroleague Women. Wauters played in the WNBA from 2000 to 2009, most recently with the San Antonio Silver Stars. Her primary position is center.-Personal:Wauters began playing...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 Sophia Young
Sophia Young
Sophia Yvonne Ashley Young is a Vincentian professional women's basketball player with the San Antonio Silver Stars in the WNBA...

, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Lesser Antilles chain, namely in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, which lie at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean....

 – four-time All-Star Haixia Zheng
Haixia Zheng
Zheng Haixia is a Chinese retired professional women's basketball player for the China women's national basketball team and the Women's National Basketball Association.-International career:...

, China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...



Note that some of these players, among them Abrosimova, Leuchanka, Maïga-Ba, Penicheiro, Sutton-Brown, and Young, played U.S. college basketball.

Milestones

{| class="navbox wikitable" style="width: 80%"
!colspan=5|WNBA Milestones
|-
!Milestone
!Player
!Team
!Date
!Information
|-
| First player signed
| Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...


| Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...


| October 23, 1996
| Signed by the WNBA and assigned to Houston
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

.
|-
| First points scored
| Penny Toler
Penny Toler
Penny Toler was a Women's National Basketball Association basketball player. She is currently the general manager of the Los Angeles Sparks.-College years:...


| Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| June 21, 1997
| Scored the league's first points on a baseline jump-shot.
|-
| First triple double
| Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...


| Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...


| July 27, 1998
| 14 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists
|-
| First goaltending call
| Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Shaqueria Fowles is an American professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky in the WNBA. She is 6 ft 6 in tall and weighs 200 lbs .-Personal:...


| Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...


| June 3, 2008
| Trying to block a layup by Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

.
|-
| First slam dunk
| Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...


| Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| July 30, 2002
| Dunked on a fast break against Miami
Miami Sol
The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

.
|-
| Most career points
| Tina Thompson
Tina Thompson
Tina Marie Thompson is a professional basketball player in the WNBA for the Los Angeles Sparks. The first draft pick in WNBA history, Thompson was selected first by the Houston Comets. She helped lead the Comets to four WNBA Championships...


| Houston
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

, Los Angeles
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| 1997–present
| 6,751 points
|-
| Most career rebounds
| Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...


| Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| 1997–2009
| 3,307 rebounds
|-
| Most career assists
| Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro is a Portuguese professional basketball player who plays for Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA...


| Sacramento
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

, Los Angeles
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| 1998–present
| 2,560 assists
|-
| Most points in a game
| Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi
Diana Lorena Taurasi is a professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Galatasaray Medical Park from Turkey...


Lauren Jackson
Lauren Jackson
Lauren Elizabeth Jackson is an Australian professional basketball player. Jackson began her professional career at the Australian Institute of Sport in the WNBL before moving on to the Canberra Capitals. She is currently a forward/centre with the Seattle Storm of the WNBA and the Australian...


| Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...


Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


| July 10, 2006
July 24, 2007
| 47 points
|-
| Most rebounds in a game
| Chamique Holdsclaw
Chamique Holdsclaw
Chamique Shaunta Holdsclaw is a professional basketball player in the Women's National Basketball Association most recently under a contract with the San Antonio Silver Stars...


| Washington Mystics
Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics is a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1998 season. The team is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment , who also owns the Mystics'...


| May 23, 2003
| 24 rebounds
|-
| Most assists in a game
| Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro is a Portuguese professional basketball player who plays for Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA...


| Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...


| July 29, 1998
| 16 assists
|-
| Most career wins for a coach
| Van Chancellor
Van Chancellor
Van Chancellor is the former Louisiana State University women's basketball coach. He was named head coach on April 11, 2007, replacing Pokey Chatman. In 2001, Van Chancellor was elected to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Knoxville, Tennessee...


| Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...


| 1997–2006
| 211 wins
|-
| Most points scored by a team
| N/A
| Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...


| July 24, 2010
| 127 points in a double overtime win against Minnesota
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


|-
| Largest margin of victory
| N/A
| Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


| August 7, 2010
| 46-point win (111-65) over Tulsa
|-
| Largest attendance for one game
| N/A
| Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...


| September 16, 2007
| 22,076 in game 5 of 2007 Finals
2007 WNBA Finals
The 2007 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2007 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to two in a...


|}

Teams

The WNBA originated with 8 teams in 1997, and through a sequence of expansions, contractions, and relocations currently consists of 12 teams. There have been a total of 18 franchises in WNBA history. Most WNBA teams are associated with the NBA team from the same market and are known as sister teams. These teams include the Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers are a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are members of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association...

 and Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, the Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

 and Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, the Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves are an American professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association . Founded in 1989, the team is currently owned by Glen Taylor...

 and Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...

, the New York Knicks
New York Knicks
The New York Knickerbockers, prominently known as the Knicks, are a professional basketball team based in New York City. They are part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association...

 and Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

, the Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns are a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association and the only team in their division not to be based in California. Their home arena since 1992 has been the US...

 and Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

, the Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are an American professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are part of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association .-The first years:...

 and the Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

, the San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs are an American professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas. They are part of the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association ....

 and the Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

, and the Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards are a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., previously known as Washington Bullets. They play in the National Basketball Association .-Early years:...

 and Mystics
Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics is a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1998 season. The team is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment , who also owns the Mystics'...

. Of these teams, only the Dream and the Sparks are owned separately. Though located in the same market, the Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 are not affiliated with the Bulls
Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls are an American professional basketball team based in Chicago, Illinois, playing in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association . The team was founded in 1966. They play their home games at the United Center...

, as evidenced by the home arena they play (the Sky play at Allstate Arena
Allstate Arena
Allstate Arena is a multi-purpose arena, in Rosemont, Illinois.It is home to the Chicago Rush, of the Arena Football League, DePaul University's men's basketball team, the Chicago Wolves, of the AHL, and the Chicago Sky, of the WNBA.It is located near the intersection of Mannheim Road and...

 in nearby Rosemont
Rosemont, Illinois
Rosemont is a village in Cook County, Illinois, United States located immediately northwest of Chicago. The village was incorporated in 1956, though it had been settled long before that...

, as opposed to the Bulls playing at United Center
United Center
The United Center is an indoor sports arena located in Chicago. It is named after its corporate sponsor, United Airlines. The United Center is home to both the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association and the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League...

). The now defunct Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

, Miami Sol
Miami Sol
The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

, Portland Fire
Portland Fire
The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

, Cleveland Rockers
Cleveland Rockers
This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

, Orlando Miracle
Orlando Miracle
The Orlando Miracle was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Orlando, Florida. They began play in the 1999 WNBA season. The Miracle relocated, in 2003,to Uncasville, Connecticut where the team became the Connecticut Sun...

, Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 and Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 were also sister teams of the Hornets, Heat
Miami Heat
The Miami Heat is a professional basketball team based in Miami, Florida, United States. The team is a member of the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association . They play their home games at American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami...

, Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers, commonly known as the Blazers, are an American professional basketball team based in Portland, Oregon. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association . The Trail Blazers originally played their home games in the...

, Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a professional basketball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They began playing in the National Basketball Association in 1970 as an expansion team...

, Magic
Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic is a professional basketball team based in Orlando, Florida. They play in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association and are currently coached by Stan Van Gundy...

, Rockets
Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. The team plays in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association . The team was established in 1967, and played in San Diego, California for four years, before being...

 and Kings
Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are a professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California, United States. They are currently members of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association...

, respectively. The Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 was the sister team of the Pistons
Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are a franchise of the National Basketball Association based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The team's home arena is The Palace of Auburn Hills. It was originally founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the Fort Wayne Pistons as a member of the National Basketball League in 1941, where...

 until the teams' owner sold the Shock to investors who moved the team to Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 46th-largest city in the United States. With a population of 391,906 as of the 2010 census, it is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 937,478 residents in the MSA and 988,454 in the CSA. Tulsa's...

. The team is not currently affiliated with Oklahoma's NBA team, the Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a professional basketball franchise based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association ; their home court is at Chesapeake Energy Arena....

, but Shock owners left the door open for a future affiliation. The Shock are also one of two teams sharing a market with an NBA Development League
NBA Development League
The NBA Development League, or NBA D-League, is the National Basketball Association's official minor league basketball organization. Known until summer 2005 as the National Basketball Development League , the NBA D-League started with eight teams in the fall of 2001...

 team, sharing with the Thunder's affiliates, the Tulsa 66ers
Tulsa 66ers
The Tulsa 66ers are an NBA Development League team based in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the minor league affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their logo design is a basketball behind mountains with a road leading up to them, all on a U.S...

; the Sparks also share with the Los Angeles D-Fenders
Los Angeles D-Fenders
The Los Angeles D-Fenders are a NBA Development League team based in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 2006, the team is owned by the Los Angeles Lakers, which became the first National Basketball Association franchise to own a D-League team...

. The Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 was the sister team of the now relocated
Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City
The Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City was a successful effort by the ownership group of the Seattle SuperSonics to move the team to Oklahoma City...

 SuperSonics
Seattle SuperSonics
The Seattle SuperSonics were an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington that played in the Pacific and Northwest Divisions of the National Basketball Association from 1967 until 2008. Following the 2007–08 season, the team relocated to Oklahoma City, and now plays as...

.

As of the 2011 WNBA season
2011 WNBA season
The 2011 WNBA season is the 15th season of the Women's National Basketball Association. The regular season began on June 3 with the Los Angeles Sparks hosting the Minnesota Lynx, featuring 2011 WNBA Draft top pick Maya Moore, in a game televised on NBA TV...

, the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

, Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

, and the San Antonio Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

 (formerly Utah Starzz
Utah Starzz
The Utah Starzz were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They began play in the 1997 WNBA season as one of the league's eight original teams. The Starzz relocated, in 2003, to San Antonio, Texas where the team became the San Antonio Silver Stars...

) are the only remaining franchises that were founded in 1997.

{| class="navbox wikitable" style="width:100%; text-align:left"
|-
! style="width:9%" | Conference
! style="width:18%" | Team
! style="width:15%" | City/Area
! style="width:18%" | Arena
! style="width:18%" | Colors
! style="width:9%" | Joined WNBA
! style="width:16%" | Head Coach
|-
! rowspan=7 style="background-color: #D0E7FF; text-align: center;" | Eastern Conference
Eastern Conference (WNBA)
The Eastern Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Eastern Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Western Conference...


|-
| Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...


| Atlanta, GA
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...


| Philips Arena
Philips Arena
Philips Arena is an indoor arena in Atlanta, Georgia.Completed in 1999 to replace The Omni, at a cost of $213.5 million, it is home to the Atlanta Hawks, of the National Basketball Association, and the Atlanta Dream, of the Women's National Basketball Association...


| Sky Blue, Red, White
| align=center | 2008
| Marynell Meadors
Marynell Meadors
Marynell Meadors is a women's basketball coach at the college and professional level. She is currently the head coach and general manager of the Atlanta Dream of the Women's National Basketball Association and was one of the original eight head coaches when the WNBA started in...


|-
| Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...


| Rosemont
Rosemont, Illinois
Rosemont is a village in Cook County, Illinois, United States located immediately northwest of Chicago. The village was incorporated in 1956, though it had been settled long before that...

, IL
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...


| Allstate Arena
Allstate Arena
Allstate Arena is a multi-purpose arena, in Rosemont, Illinois.It is home to the Chicago Rush, of the Arena Football League, DePaul University's men's basketball team, the Chicago Wolves, of the AHL, and the Chicago Sky, of the WNBA.It is located near the intersection of Mannheim Road and...


| Sky Blue, Yellow, White
| align=center | 2006
| Pokey Chatman
|-
| Connecticut Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...


| Uncasville
Uncasville, Connecticut
Uncasville is an area in the town of Montville, Connecticut. The area traditionally known as Uncasville is a village in southeastern Montville, at the mouth of the Oxoboxo River...

, CT
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...


| Mohegan Sun Arena
Mohegan Sun Arena
The Mohegan Sun Arena is a 10,000 seat multi-purpose arena in Uncasville, Connecticut located inside Mohegan Sun. The arena facility features of configurable exhibition space and a clear span...


| Navy Blue, Gold, White, Red
| align=center | 1999*
| Mike Thibault
Mike Thibault
Mike Francis Thibault is an American basketball head coach, most recently of the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.-Career:Upon his graduation from Saint Martin's University in 1979, Thibault entered into the employ of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association, for whom he worked...


|-
| Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


| Indianapolis
Indianapolis
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, IN
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...


| Conseco Fieldhouse
Conseco Fieldhouse
Conseco Fieldhouse is a multi-purpose arena located in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. Opened in November 1999 to replace Market Square Arena, it is home to the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association and the Indiana Fever of the Women's National Basketball Association...


| Navy Blue, Red, Gold, White
| align=center | 2000
| Lin Dunn
Lin Dunn
Lin Dunn is an American longtime women's basketball coach. She is most known for being the first coach and general manager for the Seattle Storm. She has more than 500 wins to her name....


|-
| New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...


| Newark
Newark, New Jersey
Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

, NJ
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...


| Prudential Center - thru 2013
| Blue, Orange, White, Green
| align=center | 1997
| John Whisenant
John Whisenant
John Whisenant is currently head coach for the New York Liberty in the Women's National Basketball Association . He graduated in 1966 with a B.S. degree in physical education from New Mexico State University and earned an M.A. in history from Pittsburg State University.-Career:Whisenant's nickname...


|-
| Washington Mystics
Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics is a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1998 season. The team is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment , who also owns the Mystics'...


| Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....


| Verizon Center
Verizon Center
Verizon Center is a sports and entertainment arena in Washington, D.C., USA, named after telecommunications sponsor Verizon Communications, and has been nicknamed the "Phone Booth" because of its association with telecommunications companies...


| Blue, Gray, White, Red
| align=center | 1998
| Trudi Lacey
Trudi Lacey
Trudi Lacey is an American basketball head coach, most recently of the Washington Mystics of the Women's National Basketball Association .-References:*...


|- style = "border-top:2px solid black;"
! rowspan=7 style="background-color: #FFCCCC; text-align: center;" | Western Conference
Western Conference (WNBA)
The Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Western Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Eastern Conference...


|-
| Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, CA
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...


| Staples Center
Staples Center
Staples Center is a multi-purpose sports arena in Downtown Los Angeles. Adjacent to the L.A. Live development, it is located next to the Los Angeles Convention Center complex along Figueroa Street. Opening on October 17, 1999, it is one of the major sporting facilities in the Greater Los Angeles...


| Purple, Gold
| align=center | 1997
| Joe Bryant
Joe Bryant
Joseph Washington "Jellybean" Bryant is a retired American professional basketball player, current coach, and the father of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Bryant was the head coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks from August 22, 2005 until April 4, 2007...


|-
| Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


| Minneapolis, MN
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...


| Target Center
Target Center
The Target Center is an arena in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is sponsored by Target Corporation. The arena has a capacity of 20,500 people. It contains 702 club seats and 68 suites....


| Blue, Green, White, Silver
| align=center | 1999
| Cheryl Reeve
Cheryl Reeve
Cheryl Reeve is an American basketball head coach, currently the head coach of the reigning Women's National Basketball Association champion Minnesota Lynx.-Career:...


|-
| Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...


| Phoenix
Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix is the capital, and largest city, of the U.S. state of Arizona, as well as the sixth most populated city in the United States. Phoenix is home to 1,445,632 people according to the official 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data...

, AZ
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...


| US Airways Center
US Airways Center
US Airways Center is a sports and entertainment arena located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. It opened in 1992, and is the home of the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association, the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association, and the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena...


| Purple, Yellow, Orange, White
| align=center | 1997
| Corey Gaines
Corey Gaines
Corey Yasuto Gaines is an American former professional basketball player and the current coach of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury....


|-
| San Antonio Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...


| San Antonio, TX
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...


| AT&T Center
AT&T Center
AT&T Center is an indoor arena, located in San Antonio, Texas, USA. It seats 18,581, for basketball , 13,800, for ice hockey and 19,000, for concerts or religious gatherings and contains 2,018 club seats, 50 luxury suites and 32 bathrooms .It was completed in 2002, as the SBC...


| Black, Silver
| align=center | 1997*
| Dan Hughes
Dan Hughes
Dan Hughes is an American basketball head coach, most recently of the San Antonio Silver Stars of the Women's National Basketball Association .-Career:...


|-
| Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


| Seattle, WA
| KeyArena
KeyArena
KeyArena at Seattle Center , is a multipurpose arena, in Seattle, Washington. It is located north of downtown in the entertainment complex known as Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 World's Fair, the Century 21 Exposition...


| Green, Red, White, Gold
| align=center | 2000
| Brian Agler
Brian Agler
Brian Agler is a basketball coach, currently the head coach of WNBA's Seattle Storm. He has been the head coach of two other professional women's teams, and won two professional titles as coach....


|-
| Tulsa Shock
| Tulsa
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 46th-largest city in the United States. With a population of 391,906 as of the 2010 census, it is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 937,478 residents in the MSA and 988,454 in the CSA. Tulsa's...

, OK
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...


| BOK Center
BOK Center
The BOK Center, or Bank of Oklahoma Center, is a 19,100-seat multi-purpose arena and a primary indoor sports and event venue in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States. Designed to accommodate arena football, hockey, basketball, concerts, and similar events, the facility was built at a cost of $178 million...


| Black, Red, Gold
| align=center | 1998*
| Teresa Edwards
Teresa Edwards
-External links:******...


|-
| colspan=7 align=left |
An asterisk (*) denotes a franchise move. See the respective team articles for more information.
|}

Former teams

  • Charlotte Sting
    Charlotte Sting
    The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

     – 1997–2006 (folded)
  • Cleveland Rockers
    Cleveland Rockers
    This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

     – 1997–2003 (folded)
  • Detroit Shock
    Detroit Shock
    The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

     – 1998–2009 (relocated; became the Tulsa Shock)
  • Houston Comets
    Houston Comets
    The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

     – 1997–2008 (folded)
  • Miami Sol
    Miami Sol
    The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

     – 2000–2002 (folded)
  • Orlando Miracle
    Orlando Miracle
    The Orlando Miracle was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Orlando, Florida. They began play in the 1999 WNBA season. The Miracle relocated, in 2003,to Uncasville, Connecticut where the team became the Connecticut Sun...

     – 1999–2002 (relocated; became the Connecticut Sun
    Connecticut Sun
    The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

    )
  • Portland Fire
    Portland Fire
    The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

     – 2000–2002 (folded)
  • Sacramento Monarchs
    Sacramento Monarchs
    The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

     – 1997–2009 (folded)
  • Utah Starzz
    Utah Starzz
    The Utah Starzz were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They began play in the 1997 WNBA season as one of the league's eight original teams. The Starzz relocated, in 2003, to San Antonio, Texas where the team became the San Antonio Silver Stars...

     – 1997–2002 (relocated; became the San Antonio Silver Stars
    San Antonio Silver Stars
    The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

    )

Potential additions

In 2007, investors took steps to re-create the Colorado Chill
Colorado Chill
The Colorado Chill were a professional women's basketball team playing in the National Women's Basketball League from 2004-2006. Based in Loveland, Colorado, they were Colorado's second and longest-lived women's pro basketball team...

, a previously successful franchise in the now-defunct NWBL
National Women's Basketball League
The National Women's Basketball League, often abbreviated to the NWBL, was an organization governing professional basketball leagues for women in the United States. The league was founded in 1997 and began play in the Fall of that year. The league used to have its own season during the off-season...

, as a WNBA expansion team. In September 2007, Chill backers announced that they had not raised enough money to join the WNBA for the 2008 season.

In August 2008, Norm Freedman, whose history with basketball dates back about 35 years, headed a group of investors interested in bringing a WNBA franchise to play out of the Ricoh Coliseum
Ricoh Coliseum
Ricoh Coliseum is an ice hockey and agricultural arena at Exhibition Place in Toronto. It serves as the home arena of the Toronto Marlies, the American Hockey League farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Toronto Triumph of the Lingerie Football League. It was formerly known as the CNE...

 in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. "The prospects are better than 50%," Freedman said. "The WNBA is quite positive, and so am I, that a team in Toronto will do well."

In 2008, news surfaced that the WNBA was focusing on Nashville
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 as a possible site for expansion. Former President Donna Orender
Donna Orender
Donna Orender is a sports executive and a former collegiate and professional basketball player. She was recently president of the WNBA. She grew up on Long Island, New York and was a five-sport athlete in high school, lettering in basketball, field hockey, volleyball, softball, and tennis. She is...

 claimed that "Tennessee is so logical" referring to the success of women's college basketball in that area.

The city of Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 may see a WNBA team in the future. Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon announced that the WNBA said Baltimore may be a location for a WNBA expansion team if a new arena is built in the city.

Former President Orender announced that the league would attempt to secure ownership for a team in the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

 in the near future.

The WNBA Draft

Every spring, the WNBA Draft
WNBA Draft
The WNBA Draft is an annual draft held by the WNBA through which WNBA teams can select new players from a talent pool of college and professional women's basketball players. The first WNBA draft was held in 1997...

 is held at ESPN headquarters in Bristol
Bristol, Connecticut
Bristol is a suburban city located in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States southwest of Hartford. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 61,353. Bristol is primarily known as the home of ESPN, whose central studios are in the city. Bristol is also home to...

, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

. From 2005 to 2008, the draft was held in the city that hosted the NCAA Women's Final Four
NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship
The NCAA Women's Division I Championship is an annual college basketball tournament for women. Held each April, the Women's Championship was inaugurated in the 1981–82 season...

. In 2009 and 2010, the draft was held at league headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey
Secaucus, New Jersey
Secaucus is a town in Hudson County, New Jersey. As of the 2010 United States Census, the town population was 16,264. Located within the New Jersey Meadowlands, it is the most suburban of the county's municipalities, though large parts of the town are dedicated to light manufacturing, retail, and...

. The draft is currently three rounds long with each of the 12 teams in the league (trades aside) getting three picks each. Draft order for teams that made the playoffs the previous year are based on team records. The team with the highest previous record will pick last. Since eight teams qualify for playoffs
WNBA Playoffs
The WNBA Playoffs is a best-of-three elimination tournament between eight teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association , ultimately deciding the final two teams who will play in the WNBA Finals....

, the bottom eight picks are determined by this method. For the remaining top four picks, a selection process similar to the NBA Draft Lottery
NBA Draft Lottery
The NBA Draft Lottery is an annual event held by the National Basketball Association in which the teams who had missed the playoffs in the previous season, or teams who hold the draft rights of another team that missed the playoffs in the previous season, participate in a lottery process to...

 is conducted for the four teams that did not qualify for the playoffs.

Regular season

Following the winter break, teams hold training camps in May. Training camps allow the coaching staff to evaluate players (especially rookies), scout the team's strengths and weaknesses, prepare the players for the rigorous regular season, and determine the 11-woman roster with which they will begin the regular season. After training camp, a series of preseason exhibition games are held. The WNBA regular season begins in May.

During the regular season, each team plays 34 games, 17 each home and away. Each team plays three in-conference teams 4 times each (12 games) and two in-conference teams 5 times each (10 games). Each team then plays the six out-of-conference teams twice (12 games). As in the NBA, each team hosts and visits every other team at least once every season.

WNBA All-Star Game

In July, the regular season pauses to celebrate the annual WNBA All-Star Game. The game is part of a weekend-long event, held in a selected WNBA city each year. The actual game is played on the selected WNBA team's home court. The All-Star Game features star players from the Western Conference facing star players from the Eastern Conference. During the season, fans get to vote for the players they would like to see start the game. In 2004, The Game at Radio City was in held in place of a traditional All-Star Game. The 2006 All-Star Game was the first game to feature custom uniforms that match the decade anniversary logo. Due to the Olympics, there was no WNBA All-Star Game in 2008. In 2010, an exhibition game (Stars at the Sun) was held.

Shortly after the All-Star break is the trading deadline. After this date, teams are not allowed to exchange players with each other for the remainder of the season, although they may still sign and release players. Major trades are often completed right before the trading deadline, making that day a hectic time for general managers.

Awards

Around the beginning of September, the regular season ends. It is during this time that voting begins for individual awards. The Sixth Woman of the Year Award
WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Sixth Woman of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 2007 WNBA season to the league's most valuable player for her team coming off the bench as a substitute . A panel of sportswriters and broadcasters...

 is given to the best player coming off the bench (must have more games coming off the bench than actual games started). The Rookie of the Year Award
WNBA Rookie of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Rookie of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 1998 WNBA season, to the top rookie of the regular season. The winner is selected by a panel of sportswriters throughout the United States, each of whom...

 is awarded to the most outstanding first-year player. The Most Improved Player Award
WNBA Most Improved Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Most Improved Player Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 2000 WNBA season, to the most improved player of the regular season. The winner is selected by a panel of sportswriters throughout the United States,...

 is awarded to the player who is deemed to have shown the most improvement from the previous season. The Defensive Player of the Year Award
WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Defensive Player of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season, to the top defensive player of the regular season...

 is awarded to the league's best defender. The Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
The Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season, to the player who most "exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court—ethical behavior, fair play and integrity." This is the same criterion used by the...

 is awarded to the player who shows the outstanding sportsmanship on and off the court. The Coach of the Year Award
WNBA Coach of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Coach of the Year is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. The winner is selected at the end of regular season by a panel of sportswriters from the United States, each of whom casts a vote...

 is awarded to the coach that has made the most positive difference to a team. The Most Valuable Player Award
WNBA Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. MVP voting takes place immediately following the regular season. The award recipient is decided by a panel of sportswriters and...

 is given to player deemed the most valuable for (her team) that season.

Also named are the All-WNBA Teams, the All-Defensive Teams
WNBA All-Defensive Team
The WNBA All-Defensive Team is an annual Women's National Basketball Association honor given since the 2005 WNBA season to the best defensive players during the regular season. Voting is conducted by the WNBA head coaches who are not allowed to vote for players on their own team...

, and the All-Rookie Team
WNBA All-Rookie Team
The WNBA All-Rookie Team is an annual Women's National Basketball Association honor given since the 2005 WNBA season to the top rookies during the regular season. Voting is conducted by the WNBA head coaches, who are not allowed to vote for players on their own team. Each coach selects five...

; each consists of five players. There are two All-WNBA teams, consisting of the top players at each position, with first-team status being the most desirable. There are two All-Defensive teams, consisting of the top defenders at each position. There is one All-Rookie team, consisting of the top first-year players regardless of position.

2011 Award Winners

{| class="navbox wikitable" style="width: 80%"
!colspan=2 width=150|Award
!width=125|Winner
!width=125|Position
!width=125|Team
!width=125|Votes/Statistic
|-
|colspan=2| Most Valuable Player Award
WNBA Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. MVP voting takes place immediately following the regular season. The award recipient is decided by a panel of sportswriters and...


| Tamika Catchings
Tamika Catchings
Tamika Devonne Catchings is an American professional basketball player for the Indiana Fever of the WNBA and Turkish team Galatasaray. She is a prolific scorer close to and far from the basket, as well as a capable rebounder, ball handler, and defender. After playing at Adlai E...


| Forward
| Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


| 292 out of 1,071
|-
|colspan=2| Finals MVP Award
| Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx, WBC Spartak Moscow Region and the US national team...


| Guard/Forward
| Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


| Unanimous
|-
|colspan=2| Rookie of the Year Award
WNBA Rookie of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Rookie of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 1998 WNBA season, to the top rookie of the regular season. The winner is selected by a panel of sportswriters throughout the United States, each of whom...


| Maya Moore
Maya Moore
Maya April Moore is an American basketball forward for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA and Ros Casares Valencia of Euroleague. Moore was the winner of the 2006 and 2007 Naismith Prep Player of the Year. She was selected as the John Wooden Award winner in 2009 after leading Connecticut to the...


| Forward
| Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


| 38 out of 40
|-
|colspan=2| Most Improved Player Award
WNBA Most Improved Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Most Improved Player Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 2000 WNBA season, to the most improved player of the regular season. The winner is selected by a panel of sportswriters throughout the United States,...


| Kia Vaughn
Kia Vaughn
Kia Vaughn is a professional women's basketball player for the WNBA's New York Liberty. She attended high school at St. Michael's All Girls High School in New York, and later went on to star at Rutgers University....


| Center
| New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...


| 15 out of 40
|-
|colspan=2| Defensive Player of the Year Award
WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Defensive Player of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season, to the top defensive player of the regular season...


| Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Shaqueria Fowles is an American professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky in the WNBA. She is 6 ft 6 in tall and weighs 200 lbs .-Personal:...


| Center
| Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...


| 19 out of 40
|-
|colspan=2| Sixth Woman of the Year Award
WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Sixth Woman of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 2007 WNBA season to the league's most valuable player for her team coming off the bench as a substitute . A panel of sportswriters and broadcasters...


| DeWanna Bonner
DeWanna Bonner
DeWanna Bonner is an American professional basketball player. She currently plays the forward position for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA.-Personal life:...


| Guard/Forward
| Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...


| 20 out of 40
|-
|colspan=2| Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
The Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season, to the player who most "exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court—ethical behavior, fair play and integrity." This is the same criterion used by the...


| Sue Bird
Sue Bird
Suzanne Brigit "Sue" Bird is an American professional women's basketball player for the Seattle Storm and WBC Spartak Moscow Region....


Ruth Riley
Ruth Riley
Ruth Ellen Riley is an American professional basketball player for the San Antonio Silver Stars in the Women's National Basketball Association . Her Notre Dame team won the NCAA women's championship in 2001, and her Detroit Shock team won the WNBA championship in 2003 and 2006...


| Guard
Center
| Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


San Antonio Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...


| 8 out of 39
|-
|colspan=2| Peak Performer: Points
WNBA Peak Performers
The Women's National Basketball Association Peak Performer Awards are given each year to players who lead the WNBA in scoring, rebounding, and assists...


| Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi
Diana Lorena Taurasi is a professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Galatasaray Medical Park from Turkey...


| Guard/Forward
| Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...


| 21.6 PPG
|-
|colspan=2| Peak Performer: Rebounds
WNBA Peak Performers
The Women's National Basketball Association Peak Performer Awards are given each year to players who lead the WNBA in scoring, rebounding, and assists...


| Tina Charles
Tina Charles (basketball)
Tina Charles is an American women's basketball player with the Connecticut Sun of the Women's National Basketball Association and the Galatasaray Medical Park of the TWBL. Originally from Jamaica, New York, Charles was drafted 1st overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft...


| Center
| Connecticut Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...


| 11.0 RPG
|-
|colspan=2| Peak Performer: Assists
WNBA Peak Performers
The Women's National Basketball Association Peak Performer Awards are given each year to players who lead the WNBA in scoring, rebounding, and assists...


| Lindsay Whalen
Lindsay Whalen
Lindsay Marie Whalen is an American professional basketball player for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA. She began her pro career as a point guard for the Connecticut Sun...


| Guard
| Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


| 5.9 APG
|-
|colspan=2| Coach of the Year Award
WNBA Coach of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Coach of the Year is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. The winner is selected at the end of regular season by a panel of sportswriters from the United States, each of whom casts a vote...


| Cheryl Reeve
Cheryl Reeve
Cheryl Reeve is an American basketball head coach, currently the head coach of the reigning Women's National Basketball Association champion Minnesota Lynx.-Career:...


| Coach
| Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


| 36 out of 40
|}

Olympic-year seasons

During years in which the Summer Olympics are held, the WNBA takes a month off in the middle of the season to allow players to practice and compete with their respective national teams. Most recently for the 2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

 held in Beijing, China
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, most of August was taken off. The regular season ran from May 17, 2008 to September 14, 2008 (the Olympic break was from July 28, 2008 to August 27, 2008). The WNBA Playoffs
WNBA Playoffs
The WNBA Playoffs is a best-of-three elimination tournament between eight teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association , ultimately deciding the final two teams who will play in the WNBA Finals....

 and WNBA Finals
WNBA Finals
The WNBA Finals is the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the sport's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002....

 led into October.

The WNBA Playoffs

The WNBA Playoffs currently begin in late September, with four teams in each conference qualifying for the playoffs. Having a higher seed offers several advantages. Since the first seed plays the fourth seed, and the second seed plays the third seed, having a higher seed generally means one will be facing a weaker team. The team in each series with the better record has home court advantage.

The first two playoff rounds follow a tournament format with each team playing a rival in a best-of-three series, with the first team to win two games advancing into the next round, while the other team is eliminated from the playoffs. For the first round, the matchups by seed are 1st vs 4th and 2nd vs 3rd. In the second round, the successful team plays against the other advancing team of the same conference. This leaves one surviving team from each conference. In both rounds, the best-of-three series follows a 1-1-1 home-court pattern, meaning that the higher-seeded team will have home court in games 1 and 3 while the other team plays at home in game 2. This pattern has been in place since 2010 (changed from 1-2 format, where the lower seed hosted the opening game).

The WNBA Finals

The final playoff round, a best-of-five series between the victors of each conference, is known as the WNBA Finals, and is held annually, currently scheduled for October. Each player on the winning team receives a championship ring. In addition, the league awards a WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Finals Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season....

. For this round, the series follows a 2-2-1 pattern, meaning that one team will have home court in games 1, 2, and 5, while the other plays at home in games 3 and 4. The 2-2-1 pattern in the WNBA Finals has been in place since 2005.

{| class="toccolours" width=90% style="clear:both; margin:1.5em auto; text-align:center;"
|-
! colspan=2 style="background:#FFE6BD; color:#000000" | The WNBA Finals
|- valign="top"
| |-
| |-
|
The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) is a women's professional basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 league in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It currently is composed of twelve teams. The league was founded on April 24, 1996 as the women's counterpart to the National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 (NBA). League play started in 1997; the regular season is currently played from June to September with the Finals
WNBA Finals
The WNBA Finals is the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the sport's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002....

 in October.

Many WNBA teams have NBA counterparts and play in the same arena. The Connecticut Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

, Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, and Tulsa Shock 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
Seattle SuperSonics
The Seattle SuperSonics were an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington that played in the Pacific and Northwest Divisions of the National Basketball Association from 1967 until 2008. Following the 2007–08 season, the team relocated to Oklahoma City, and now plays as...

 before that team's relocation
Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City
The Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City was a successful effort by the ownership group of the Seattle SuperSonics to move the team to Oklahoma City...

). In addition to those three teams, the Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 is the only other team that does not share an arena with an NBA counterpart. The four aforementioned franchises, along with the Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

 and the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 are all 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.

"We Got Next" (1997)

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
Rebecca Lobo
Rebecca Rose Lobo-Rushin is an American television basketball analyst and a former player in the professional Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 to 2003...

, Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

, and Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...

 in attendance.

The league began with eight teams: the Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

, Cleveland Rockers
Cleveland Rockers
This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

, Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 and New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 in the Eastern Conference; and the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

, Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 and Utah Starzz
Utah Starzz
The Utah Starzz were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They began play in the 1997 WNBA season as one of the league's eight original teams. The Starzz relocated, in 2003, to San Antonio, Texas where the team became the San Antonio Silver Stars...

 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.

The Houston Comets dynasty (1997–2000)

On the heels of a much-publicized gold medal run by the 1996
Basketball at the 1996 Summer Olympics
Basketball contests at the 1996 Olympic Games were held from July 20, 1996 to August 4, 1996. Games took place at the Morehouse College Gymnasium and the Georgia Dome. For the second straight Olympic games, the American men's team composed almost entirely of NBA players won the gold medal...

 USA Basketball Women's National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games
Basketball at the 1996 Summer Olympics
Basketball contests at the 1996 Olympic Games were held from July 20, 1996 to August 4, 1996. Games took place at the Morehouse College Gymnasium and the Georgia Dome. For the second straight Olympic games, the American men's team composed almost entirely of NBA players won the gold medal...

, the WNBA began its first season on June 21, 1997 to little fanfare. The first WNBA game featured the New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 facing the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 in Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

. The game was televised nationally in the United States on the NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 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
Hearst Corporation
The Hearst Corporation is an American media conglomerate based in the Hearst Tower, Manhattan in New York City, New York, United States. Founded by William Randolph Hearst as an owner of newspapers, the company's holdings now include a wide variety of media...

 joint venture channels, ESPN
ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

 and Lifetime Television
Lifetime Television
Lifetime Television, often referred to as Lifetime TV, or most commonly, Lifetime, is an American cable television specialty channel devoted to movies, sitcoms and dramas, all of which are either geared toward women or feature women in lead roles. The cable network is owned by A&E Television Networks...

 Network, respectively. Penny Toler
Penny Toler
Penny Toler was a Women's National Basketball Association basketball player. She is currently the general manager of the Los Angeles Sparks.-College years:...

 scored the league's first point.

The WNBA centered its marketing campaign, dubbed "We Got Next", around stars Rebecca Lobo
Rebecca Lobo
Rebecca Rose Lobo-Rushin is an American television basketball analyst and a former player in the professional Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 to 2003...

, Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

 and Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...

. 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
WNBA Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. MVP voting takes place immediately following the regular season. The award recipient is decided by a panel of sportswriters and...

 Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Cooper (basketball)
Cynthia Lynne Cooper is a former American basketball player who has won championships in college, the Olympics, and in the Women's National Basketball Association . She is considered by many as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the...

, Swoopes' teammate on the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

. The Comets defeated Lobo's New York Liberty in the first WNBA Championship game.

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

Two teams were added in 1998 (Detroit
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 and Washington
Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics is a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1998 season. The team is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment , who also owns the Mystics'...

) and two more in 1999 (Orlando
Orlando Miracle
The Orlando Miracle was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Orlando, Florida. They began play in the 1999 WNBA season. The Miracle relocated, in 2003,to Uncasville, Connecticut where the team became the Connecticut Sun...

 and Minnesota
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 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
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

 agreement to be signed in the history of women's professional sports
Women's professional sports
Professional athletes are distinguished from amateur athletes by virtue of being paid. Throughout the world, most top female athletes are not paid, and work full-time or part-time jobs in addition to their training, practice and competition schedules. Women's professional sports organizations defy...

.

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
Nikki McCray
Nikki McCray is a former American professional basketball player. She played in the Women's National Basketball Association for eight seasons....

 and Dawn Staley
Dawn Staley
Dawn Michelle Staley is an American basketball player and coach. Staley is a three-time Olympian and was elected to carry the United States flag at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics. She was named the University of South Carolina women's head basketball coach on May 7, 2008...

) and a number of standout college performers (including Kate Starbird
Kate Starbird
Kate Starbird is a former professional basketball player in the Women's National Basketball Association and the American Basketball League ....

 and Jennifer Rizzotti
Jennifer Rizzotti
Jennifer Rizzotti is a retired American collegiate and professional basketball player, and current Division I coach. She is the daughter of Tom Rizzotti and Carol Rizzotti.-College:...

), 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.

By the 2000 season, the WNBA had doubled in size from its initial season. Four more teams were added for the 2000 season (the Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, the Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, the Miami Sol
Miami Sol
The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

, and the Portland Fire
Portland Fire
The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

).

On May 23, 2000, the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 became the first WNBA team to be invited to the White House Rose Garden
White House Rose Garden
The White House Rose Garden is a garden bordering the Oval Office and the West Wing of the White House. The garden is approximately 125 feet long and 60 feet wide...

. This was important to the WNBA's growth because before this invitation, only men's sports teams had traveled to the White House.

At the end of the 2000 season, the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 won their fourth championship, capturing every title since the league's inception. Led by the "Big Three" of Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...

, Tina Thompson
Tina Thompson
Tina Marie Thompson is a professional basketball player in the WNBA for the Los Angeles Sparks. The first draft pick in WNBA history, Thompson was selected first by the Houston Comets. She helped lead the Comets to four WNBA Championships...

, and four-time Finals MVP
WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Finals Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season....

 Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Lynne Cooper is a former American basketball player who has won championships in college, the Olympics, and in the Women's National Basketball Association . She is considered by many as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the...

, the Comets dominated every team in the league. Under head coach Van Chancellor
Van Chancellor
Van Chancellor is the former Louisiana State University women's basketball coach. He was named head coach on April 11, 2007, replacing Pokey Chatman. In 2001, Van Chancellor was elected to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Knoxville, Tennessee...

, the team posted a 98–24 record through their first four seasons (16–3 in the Playoffs
WNBA Playoffs
The WNBA Playoffs is a best-of-three elimination tournament between eight teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association , ultimately deciding the final two teams who will play in the WNBA Finals....

). After 2000, Cooper retired from the league and the Comets dynasty came to an end.

Lisa Leslie and the Los Angeles Sparks (2001–2002)

Going into the 2001 season, Houston faltered without Cooper and fell to fourth place in the conference by the end of the season. The top contender was the league's marquee team, the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

. The Sparks were predicted to win the earlier championships but the team could never get past the dominating Comets. Led by Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

, the most dominating post player at the time, the Sparks posted an outstanding regular season record of 28–4. They advanced to their first ever WNBA Finals
WNBA Finals
The WNBA Finals is the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the sport's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002....

 and swept the fourth-seeded Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

 from the Eastern Conference
Eastern Conference (WNBA)
The Eastern Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Eastern Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Western Conference...

.
Looking to repeat in 2002, the Sparks again made a strong run toward the postseason, going 25–7 in the regular season under head coach Michael Cooper, formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

. Again, Leslie dominated opponents throughout the Playoffs, leading the Sparks to a perfect 6–0 record through all three rounds, beating rival New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 in the 2002 Finals
2002 WNBA Finals
The 2002 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2002 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the New York Liberty, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to none in a...

.

Teams and the league were collectively owned by the NBA until the end of 2002, when the NBA sold WNBA teams either to their NBA counterparts in the same city or to a third party. This led to two teams moving; Utah to San Antonio
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

 and Orlando to Connecticut
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

. With the move, the Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

 became the first WNBA team to be owned by a third party instead of an NBA
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 franchise. This sale of teams also led to two teams folding, the Miami Sol
Miami Sol
The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

 and Portland Fire
Portland Fire
The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

, because new owners could not be found.

Bill Laimbeer leaves his mark on the WNBA (2003–2006)

After taking over a struggling franchise in 2002, former Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are a franchise of the National Basketball Association based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The team's home arena is The Palace of Auburn Hills. It was originally founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the Fort Wayne Pistons as a member of the National Basketball League in 1941, where...

 Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer
William "Bill" Laimbeer, Jr. is a retired National Basketball Association player for the Detroit Pistons. Playing at center, the 6'11" Laimbeer was a four-time All-Star and integral part of the Pistons teams that won two championships...

 had high hopes for the Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 in 2003. The team was just 9–23 in 2002, but Laimbeer predicted that the Shock would win the 2003 championship. Things started well for the Shock, who had three all-stars in the 2003 All-Star Game
2003 WNBA All-Star Game
The 2003 WNBA All-Star Game was played on July 12, 2003 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, home of the New York Liberty. This is the second time New York hosted the contest after previously hosting the 1999 game...

 (Swin Cash
Swin Cash
Swintayla Marie Cash , better known as Swin Cash, is an American WNBA player who plays for the Seattle Storm. A prolific scorer and rebounder, as well as a capable ball handler and defender, she helped lead the University of Connecticut women's basketball team to national titles in 2000 and 2002...

, Cheryl Ford
Cheryl Ford
Cheryl Ford is a professional basketball player in the WNBA.-Personal information:Cheryl Ford is the daughter of Bonita Ford and former NBA player Karl Malone.-High school:...

, and Deanna Nolan
Deanna Nolan
Deanna "Tweety" Nicole Nolan is an American professional basketball player for the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, but occasionally plays the point guard position...

). Amazingly, Laimbeer orchestrated a rare worst-to-first turnaround and the Shock finished the season 25–9 in first place in the Eastern Conference. Winning the first two rounds of the Playoffs, the Shock had to face two-time champion Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 and reigning Finals MVP
WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Finals Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season....

 Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

 in the 2003 Finals
2003 WNBA Finals
The 2003 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2003 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, defeated the Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, two games to one in a...

. The Shock beat the Sparks, winning game three on a clutch three-pointer by Deanna Nolan
Deanna Nolan
Deanna "Tweety" Nicole Nolan is an American professional basketball player for the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, but occasionally plays the point guard position...

.

After the 2003 season
2003 WNBA season
-External links:***...

, the Cleveland Rockers
Cleveland Rockers
This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

, one of the league's original eight teams, folded because the owners were unwilling to continue operating the franchise.

On October 21, 2004, Val Ackerman
Val Ackerman
Valerie B. "Val" Ackerman was born on November 7, 1959 in Lakewood Township, New Jersey but grew up in Pennington, New Jersey, United States. She is an attorney, sports executive, and former basketball player...

, the first WNBA president, announced her resignation, effective February 1, 2005, citing the desire to spend more time with her family. Ackerman later became president of USA Basketball
USA Basketball
USA Basketball is a non-profit organization and the governing body for basketball in the United States. The organization represents the United States in FIBA and the men's and women's national basketball teams in the United States Olympic Committee...

.

On February 15, 2005, NBA
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 Commissioner David Stern
David Stern
David Joel Stern is the commissioner of the National Basketball Association. He started with the Association in 1966 as an outside counsel, joined the NBA in 1978 as General Counsel, and became the league's Executive Vice President in 1980. He became Commissioner in 1984 succeeding Larry O'Brien...

 announced that Donna Orender
Donna Orender
Donna Orender is a sports executive and a former collegiate and professional basketball player. She was recently president of the WNBA. She grew up on Long Island, New York and was a five-sport athlete in high school, lettering in basketball, field hockey, volleyball, softball, and tennis. She is...

, who had been serving as the Senior Vice President of the PGA Tour
PGA Tour
The PGA Tour is the organizer of the main men's professional golf tours in the United States and North America...

 and who had played for several teams in the now-defunct Women's Pro Basketball League, would be Ackerman's successor as of April 2005.

The WNBA awarded its first real expansion team
Expansion team
An expansion team is a brand new team in a sports league. The term is most commonly used in reference to the North American major professional sports leagues, but is applied to sports leagues worldwide that use a closed franchise system of league membership. The term comes from the expansion of the...

 to Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 (later named the Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

) in February 2006. In the off-season, a set of rule changes was approved that made the WNBA more like the NBA.

In 2006, the league became the first team-oriented women's professional sports league to exist for ten consecutive seasons. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary, the WNBA released its All-Decade Team
WNBA's All-Decade Team
The Women's National Basketball Association's All-Decade Team was chosen in 2006 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary and 10th season of the WNBA from amongst 30 nominees compiled by the league by fan, media, coach, and player voting...

, comprising the ten WNBA players deemed to have contributed, through on-court play and off-court activities, the most to women's basketball during the period of the league's existence.

After missing out on the Finals in 2004 and 2005, the Shock bounced back in 2006 behind newly acquired Katie Smith
Katie Smith
Katherine May "Katie" Smith is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, although she sometimes plays small forward or point guard. She is the all time leading scorer in women's professional basketball, having notched over 7000 points in both...

. Along with Smith, the Shock still had six remaining members from their 2003 Finals run (Cash
Swin Cash
Swintayla Marie Cash , better known as Swin Cash, is an American WNBA player who plays for the Seattle Storm. A prolific scorer and rebounder, as well as a capable ball handler and defender, she helped lead the University of Connecticut women's basketball team to national titles in 2000 and 2002...

, Ford
Cheryl Ford
Cheryl Ford is a professional basketball player in the WNBA.-Personal information:Cheryl Ford is the daughter of Bonita Ford and former NBA player Karl Malone.-High school:...

, Holland-Corn
Kedra Holland-Corn
Kedra Holland-Corn is a WNBA basketball player. After attending the University of Georgia, she played for the Sacramento Monarchs and Houston Comets, and now plays for the Detroit Shock....

, Nolan
Deanna Nolan
Deanna "Tweety" Nicole Nolan is an American professional basketball player for the WNBA. Her primary position is shooting guard, but occasionally plays the point guard position...

, Powell
Elaine Powell
Elaine Powell is a professional basketball player. A point guard, she played in the WNBA from 1999 to 2008.-College career:In two years at LSU, Powell averaged 19.1 points per game...

, and Riley
Ruth Riley
Ruth Ellen Riley is an American professional basketball player for the San Antonio Silver Stars in the Women's National Basketball Association . Her Notre Dame team won the NCAA women's championship in 2001, and her Detroit Shock team won the WNBA championship in 2003 and 2006...

). Head coach Laimbeer knew how difficult it was to get to the Finals a second time and the Shock were up for the challenge. They finished second in the Eastern Conference, but knocked off first-seeded Connecticut
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

 in the second round of the Playoffs. The Shock had to face reigning champion Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 in a five game series. The Shock won game five on their home floor, again solidifying their power in the league.

Bringing "Paul Ball" to the WNBA (2007–2009)

In December 2006, the Charlotte Bobcats
Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats is a professional basketball team based in Charlotte, North Carolina. They play in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association. The Bobcats were established in 2004 as an expansion team, two seasons after Charlotte's previous NBA...

 organization announced it would no longer operate the Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

. Soon after, the WNBA announced that the Sting would not operate for 2007. A dispersal draft was held January 8, 2007. Teams selected in inverse order of their 2006 records; Chicago
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 received the first pick and selected Monique Currie
Monique Currie
Monique Currie is a WNBA basketball player who plays for the Washington Mystics.Currie was traded from the Chicago Sky during the 2007 season in exchange for Chasity Melvin...

.

Former Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

 championship coach Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead is a basketball coach who is currently the head coach of the University of Oregon women's team...

 was named head coach of the Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

 on October 11, 2005, bringing his up-tempo style of play to the WNBA. This fast-paced offense was perfect for his team, especially after the league shortened the shot clock from 30 seconds to 24 seconds in 2006. Much like the early Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 championship teams, the Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

 had risen to prominence led by their own "Big Three" of Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the New York Liberty in the WNBA. She was born in Oceanside, California and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Pondexter is known for her scrappy play, quick crossovers and deadly midrange jumpshot...

, Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi
Diana Lorena Taurasi is a professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Galatasaray Medical Park from Turkey...

, and Penny Taylor.

The Mercury were well-suited for fast offense behind these three players. Phoenix averaged a league-record 88.97 points per game in 2007; teams could not keep up with the new style of play, and the Mercury were propelled into first place in the Western Conference. Facing the reigning champion Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

, the Mercury imposed their high-scoring offense with hopes of capturing their first title in franchise history. Averaging 93.2 points per game in the Finals series
2007 WNBA Finals
The 2007 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2007 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to two in a...

, the Mercury beat Detroit on their home floor in front of 22,076 fans in game five to claim their first ever WNBA title.
In October 2007 the WNBA awarded another expansion franchise to Atlanta. Atlanta businessman Ron Terwilliger was the original owner of the new team. Citizens of Atlanta were able to vote for their choices for the new team's nickname and colors. The Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

, as they were named, played their first regular season game on May 17, which was a 67-100 loss to the Connecticut Sun.

Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead is a basketball coach who is currently the head coach of the University of Oregon women's team...

 resigned from the Mercury after capturing the 2007 title and Penny Taylor opted to stay home
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 to prepare for the 2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

, causing the Mercury to falter in 2008. The team posted a 16–18 record and became the first team in WNBA history to miss the Playoffs after winning the championship in the previous season. In their place, the Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 won their third championship under coach Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer
William "Bill" Laimbeer, Jr. is a retired National Basketball Association player for the Detroit Pistons. Playing at center, the 6'11" Laimbeer was a four-time All-Star and integral part of the Pistons teams that won two championships...

, solidifying their place in WNBA history before Laimbeer resigned early in 2009, effectively ending the Shock dynasty.

Late in 2008, the WNBA took over ownership of one of the league's original franchises, the Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

. The Comets ceased operations on December 1, 2008 after no owners for the franchise could be found. A dispersal draft took place on December 8, 2008 and with the first pick, Sancho Lyttle
Sancho Lyttle
Sancho Lyttle is a professional basketball player born in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with Spanish citizenship. She is currently a power forward in the WNBA for the Atlanta Dream. Through her career, she has scored 1,505 points, collected 1,041 rebounds, and has 200 assists, 242 steals, and...

 was taken by the Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

.

After an unsatisfying conclusion in 2008, the Mercury looked to bounce back to championship caliber. New head coach Corey Gaines
Corey Gaines
Corey Yasuto Gaines is an American former professional basketball player and the current coach of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury....

 implemented Paul Westhead's
Paul Westhead
Paul Westhead is a basketball coach who is currently the head coach of the University of Oregon women's team...

 style of play, and the Mercury averaged 92.82 points per game throughout the 2009 season. Helped by the return of Penny Taylor, the Mercury once again locked up first place in the Western Conference and advanced to the 2009 Finals
2009 WNBA Finals
The 2009 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2009 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Indiana Fever, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, faced the Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference...

. The championship series was a battle of contrasting styles as the Mercury (number one league offense, 92.82 points per game) had to face the Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 (number three league defense, 73.55 points per game). The series went five games, including arguably one of the most thrilling games in WNBA history in game one of the series (Phoenix won in overtime, 120–116. The Mercury beat the Fever in game five, this time on their home court, to capture their second WNBA championship.

Not only did Paul Westhead's system influence his Mercury team, but it created a domino effect throughout the league. Young athletic players were capable of scoring more and playing at a faster pace. As a league, the 2010 average of 80.35 points per game was the best ever, far surpassing the 69.2 average in the league's inaugural season
1997 WNBA Season
-External links:*...

.

Changing of the guard (2010–present)

On October 20, 2009 the WNBA announced that the Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 would relocate to Tulsa
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 46th-largest city in the United States. With a population of 391,906 as of the 2010 census, it is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 937,478 residents in the MSA and 988,454 in the CSA. Tulsa's...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

; the team is called the Tulsa Shock On November 20, 2009, the WNBA announced that the Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 had folded due to lack of support from its current owners, the Maloof family
Maloof family
The Maloof family owns numerous business properties in the Western United States. The origin of the family name is Maalouf and is of Levantine descent; the family is Lebanese via their paternal grandfather. The Maloofs are the owners of the Sacramento Kings of the NBA . The family consists of...

, also the owners of the Sacramento Kings
Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are a professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California, United States. They are currently members of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association...

. The league announced it would seek new owners to relocate the team to the San Francisco Bay area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

; however, no ownership was found and a dispersal draft was held on December 14, 2009.

The 2010 season saw a tight race in the East
Eastern Conference (WNBA)
The Eastern Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Eastern Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Western Conference...

, with three teams being tied for first place on the final day of the regular season. Five of the six teams in the East were in first place at some point during the season. The East held a .681 winning percentage over the West
Western Conference (WNBA)
The Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Western Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Eastern Conference...

, its highest ever. In the 2010 Finals
2010 WNBA Finals
The 2010 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2010 season of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the season's playoffs...

, two new teams represented each conference: the Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 and the Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

. Seattle made their first finals appearance since winning it all in 2004
2004 WNBA Finals
The 2004 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2004 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Seattle Storm, second-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to one in a...

 and Atlanta, coming into the playoffs as a four seed, impressively swept its opponents in the first two rounds to advance to the Finals in only the third year of the team's existence.
After the 2010 season, President Orender announced she would be resigning from her position as of December 31. On April 21, 2011, NBA commissioner David Stern
David Stern
David Joel Stern is the commissioner of the National Basketball Association. He started with the Association in 1966 as an outside counsel, joined the NBA in 1978 as General Counsel, and became the league's Executive Vice President in 1980. He became Commissioner in 1984 succeeding Larry O'Brien...

 announced that former Girl Scouts of the USA
Girl Scouts of the USA
The Girl Scouts of the United States of America is a youth organization for girls in the United States and American girls living abroad. It describes itself as "the world's preeminent organization dedicated solely to girls". It was founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912 and was organized after Low...

 Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie is the current president of the Women's National Basketball Association .-Prior to the WNBA:Before the WNBA, Richie served as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Girl Scouts of the USA...

 would assume duties as President on May 16, 2011.

The 2011 season began with strong publicity helped by the rising young stars of the league and the NBA lockout. Many news outlets began covering the league more frequently. NBA TV
NBA TV
NBA TV is a television specialty channel that is dedicated to showcasing the sport of basketball in the United States. The network is financially backed by the National Basketball Association , which also uses NBA TV as a way of advertising their out of market package NBA League Pass, and partner...

, the television home of the NBA scheduled over 70 regular season games to be televised (along with a dozen more on ESPN2 and ABC
ESPN on ABC
ESPN on ABC is the brand used for sports programming on the ABC television network. Officially the broadcast network retains its own sports division; however, for all practical purposes, ABC's sports division has been merged with ESPN, a sports cable network majority-owned by ABC's parent, The...

). The new influx of young talent into the league gave many teams something to be excited about. Players like Candace Parker
Candace Parker
Candace Nicole Parker is an All-American basketball player for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks and is also the younger sister of NBA player Anthony Parker. She was drafted to the team from Tennessee in 2008...

 of the Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, Maya Moore
Maya Moore
Maya April Moore is an American basketball forward for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA and Ros Casares Valencia of Euroleague. Moore was the winner of the 2006 and 2007 Naismith Prep Player of the Year. She was selected as the John Wooden Award winner in 2009 after leading Connecticut to the...

 of the Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...

, Angel McCoughtry
Angel McCoughtry
Angel Lajuane McCoughtry is a professional basketball player who completed her college career at the University of Louisville in 2009. She was selected first overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2009 WNBA Draft and is considered its franchise player...

 of the Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

, Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Shaqueria Fowles is an American professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky in the WNBA. She is 6 ft 6 in tall and weighs 200 lbs .-Personal:...

 of the Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

, Tina Charles
Tina Charles (basketball)
Tina Charles is an American women's basketball player with the Connecticut Sun of the Women's National Basketball Association and the Galatasaray Medical Park of the TWBL. Originally from Jamaica, New York, Charles was drafted 1st overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft...

 of the Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

, and Liz Cambage
Liz Cambage
Elizabeth "Liz" Cambage is an Australian basketball player who plays for the Bulleen Boomers of the Women's National Basketball League and the Tulsa Shock of the Women's National Basketball Association . She is also a member of the Australia women's national basketball team.Cambage was born in...

 of the Shock brought a new level of excitement to the game, adding talent to the teams of young veterans such as Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi
Diana Lorena Taurasi is a professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Galatasaray Medical Park from Turkey...

, Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx, WBC Spartak Moscow Region and the US national team...

 and Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the New York Liberty in the WNBA. She was born in Oceanside, California and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Pondexter is known for her scrappy play, quick crossovers and deadly midrange jumpshot...

. The level of play was getting better, as evidenced by higher scoring, better defense, and higher shooting percentages. Fans responded to the new stars in the league; by the end of the 2011 regular season
2011 WNBA season
The 2011 WNBA season is the 15th season of the Women's National Basketball Association. The regular season began on June 3 with the Los Angeles Sparks hosting the Minnesota Lynx, featuring 2011 WNBA Draft top pick Maya Moore, in a game televised on NBA TV...

, nine of the twelve teams in the league had increased attendance over their 2010 averages.

The new influx of talented young players showed that the league's longevity gave young girls something to aspire to. Rookies coming into the league had the luxury of growing up watching veterans like Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia Lynne Cooper is a former American basketball player who has won championships in college, the Olympics, and in the Women's National Basketball Association . She is considered by many as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the...

, Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

 and Teresa Weatherspoon
Teresa Weatherspoon
-Personal:Weatherspoon was born to Charles and Rowena Weatherspoon in Pineland, Texas. Her father, Charles Sr., played minor league baseball in the Minnesota Twins' farm system, and holds the record for the most grand slams in a minor league game. Weatherspoon has two brothers and three sisters...

. For the first time ever, young girls could now look at the WNBA as an opportunity for basketball to continue after college.

The new players delivered in 2011. Connecticut Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

 center Tina Charles
Tina Charles (basketball)
Tina Charles is an American women's basketball player with the Connecticut Sun of the Women's National Basketball Association and the Galatasaray Medical Park of the TWBL. Originally from Jamaica, New York, Charles was drafted 1st overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft...

 set a league record for double-doubles in a season with 23. Also, Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Shaqueria Fowles is an American professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky in the WNBA. She is 6 ft 6 in tall and weighs 200 lbs .-Personal:...

 of the Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 became only the second player in WNBA history to finish a season averaging at least 20 points (20.0ppg) and 10 rebounds (10.2rpg) per game. The San Antonio Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

 experienced boosts from their young players as well; rookie Danielle Adams
Danielle Adams
Danielle E. Adams is an American forward-center. She played college basketball at Texas A&M. She is the first Texas A&M player to be named an Associated Press first-team All-American. She also captured first team All-American honors from the WBCA...

 scored 32 points off the bench in June and fellow rookie Danielle Robinson
Danielle Robinson
Danielle Robinson is a basketball player who most recently played for the San Antonio Silver Stars of the Women's National Basketball Association.-WNBA:Robinson was selected the first round of the 2011 WNBA Draft by the San Antonio Silver Stars....

 had a 36-point game in September. Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

 forward Angel McCoughtry
Angel McCoughtry
Angel Lajuane McCoughtry is a professional basketball player who completed her college career at the University of Louisville in 2009. She was selected first overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2009 WNBA Draft and is considered its franchise player...

 was the first player in league history to average over 20 points per game (21.6ppg) while playing under 30 minutes per game (27.9mpg).

McCoughtry led her team to the Finals
2011 WNBA Finals
The 2011 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2011 season of the Women's National Basketball Association , and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Minnesota Lynx, champions of the Western Conference, swept the champions of the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Dream in three...

 for the second straight year, but despite breaking her own Finals scoring record, the Dream was swept for the second straight year, this time by the Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...

, which won its first title behind a fully healthy Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx, WBC Spartak Moscow Region and the US national team...

.

Other developments

The WNBA Players Association threatened to strike in 2003 if a new deal was not worked out between players and the league. The result was a delay in the start of the 2003 preseason. The 2003 WNBA Draft
2003 WNBA Draft
The 2003 WNBA Draft, both the dispersal draft and the regular WNBA draft, took place on April 24. The dispersal draft involved players from the rosters of the Portland Fire and Miami Sol teams which had both folded after the 2002 season....

 was also delayed and negative publicity was gained from this strike.

In 2007, the WNBA and ESPN
ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

 came to an 8-year television agreement. The agreement would be the first to pay television rights fees to the league's teams. Never before has an agreement promised rights fees to a women's professional league. The agreement runs from 2009 to 2016 and is worth millions of dollars.

During the 2008 regular season, the first ever outdoor professional basketball game in North America was played at Arthur Ashe Stadium
Arthur Ashe Stadium
Arthur Ashe Stadium, a part of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center located within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the New York City borough of Queens, is the main tennis stadium of the US Open, the last of each year's four Grand Slam tournaments, and also where the annual Arthur Ashe...

 in New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 between the New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

 and the Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 in front of over 19,000 fans. The Fever won the game 71-55.

Prior to the 2009 season, the maximum team roster size was changed from 13 players (11 active and 2 inactive) to 11 players (all active). Any team that falls below nine players able to play due to injury or any other factor outside of the control of the team will, upon request, be granted a roster hardship exception allowing the team to sign an additional player or players so that the team will have nine players able to play in an upcoming game or games. As soon as the injured (or otherwise sidelined) player(s) is able to play, the roster hardship player(s)—not any other player on the roster—must be waived.

Before the start of the 2011 season, every team announced a new look for their uniforms. The supplier of the uniforms for the league, Adidas
Adidas
Adidas AG is a German sports apparel manufacturer and parent company of the Adidas Group, which consists of the Reebok sportswear company, TaylorMade-Adidas golf company , and Rockport...

, upgraded all teams to new high-tech designs, much like they did for the NBA prior to the start of their season.

The 2011 NBA Lockout
2011 NBA lockout
The 2011 NBA lockout is the fourth lockout in the history of the National Basketball Association . The owners began the work stoppage at 12:01 am EDT on July 1, 2011. The main issues dividing the owners and the players are revenue sharing and the structure of the salary cap...

 began on July 1, 2011. Unlike the previous lockout, which affected the WNBA, president Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie
Laurel J. Richie is the current president of the Women's National Basketball Association .-Prior to the WNBA:Before the WNBA, Richie served as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Girl Scouts of the USA...

 confirmed that this lockout would have no effect on the WNBA. If the NBA season was shortened or canceled, the 2012 WNBA season (including the WNBA teams still owned by NBA owners) would run as planned.

International influence

A number of international players have played in the WNBA, such as: Svetlana Abrosimova
Svetlana Abrosimova
Svetlana Olegovna Abrosimova is a Russian basketball player who has played in college, the Olympics, and in professional leagues. She currently plays for the Seattle Storm in the WNBA. She is usually called by her nickname, "Svet" or "Sveta".Abrosimova was born in Leningrad, Russian SFSR,...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 – won a championship with the Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 in 2010
2010 WNBA Finals
The 2010 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2010 season of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the season's playoffs...

 Elena Baranova
Elena Baranova
Elena Viktorovna Baranova is a Russian professional basketball player. She is a former Women's National Basketball Association player, where she became the first player from Europe in 1997 WNBA inaugural season, the first All-Star from Russia in 2001 and played for the New York Liberty until the...

, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

 – the first international player in the WNBA (1997
1997 WNBA Season
-External links:*...

). Erika de Souza
Erika de Souza
Érika Cristina de Souza is a Brazilian professional women's basketball player with the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA in the United States. Prior to joining the Dream for their inaugural 2008 season, DeSouza was a member of the Los Angeles Sparks in 2002, with whom she played in 11 games...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 – one-time All-Star (2009
2009 WNBA All-Star Game
The 2009 WNBA All-Star Game was played on July 25, 2009 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, home of the Connecticut Sun. The game was the 9th annual WNBA All-Star Game...

) Iziane Castro Marques
Iziane Castro Marques
Iziane "Izi" Castro Marques is a Brazilian professional basketball player. The six-foot forward is a mainstay of the Brazil women's national basketball team, and a starting small forward on the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA.The undrafted Castro Marques was signed by the Miami Sol as a free agent out...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 – one-time All-Star (2010
2010 WNBA All-Star Game
The Stars at the Sun game was played on July 10, 2010 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, home of the Connecticut Sun. This game, unlike previous non-Olympic year games, was a contest between the USA women's national team and a team of WNBA All-Stars. This game is not considered a WNBA...

) Margo Dydek
Margo Dydek
Małgorzata Dydek , known as Margo Dydek in the United States, was a Polish international professional basketball player. Standing tall, she was famous for being the tallest active professional female basketball player in the world...

, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 – tallest woman to play in the WNBA at 7' 2" (2.18 m) Sandrine Gruda
Sandrine Gruda
Sandrine Gruda is a French professional basketball player. She currently plays the center position for the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA.-Before the WNBA:...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Lauren Jackson
Lauren Jackson
Lauren Elizabeth Jackson is an Australian professional basketball player. Jackson began her professional career at the Australian Institute of Sport in the WNBL before moving on to the Canberra Capitals. She is currently a forward/centre with the Seattle Storm of the WNBA and the Australian...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 – two-time champion (2004
2004 WNBA Finals
The 2004 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2004 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Seattle Storm, second-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to one in a...

, 2010
2010 WNBA Finals
The 2010 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2010 season of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the season's playoffs...

), three-time MVP and eight-time All-Star Anete Jēkabsone-Žogota, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 Yelena Leuchanka
Yelena Leuchanka
Yelena Leuchanka is a Belarusian professional women's basketball player with the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA in the United States. Prior to joining the Dream for their inaugural 2008 season, Leuchanka was a member of the Charlotte Sting in 2006 and Washington Mystics in 2007. She began her college...

, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 Mwadi Mabika
Mwadi Mabika
Mwadi Mabika is a Congolese basketball player and an All-Star in the Women's National Basketball Association ....

, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 – won championships with the Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

 in 2001 and 2002
2002 WNBA Finals
The 2002 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2002 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the New York Liberty, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to none in a...

 Hamchétou Maïga-Ba
Hamchétou Maïga
Hamchétou Maïga-Ba is a Malian professional women's basketball player most recently with the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA. She is also a member of the Mali women's national basketball team.-At Old Dominion:...

, Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 – won a championship with the Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 in 2005
2005 WNBA Finals
The 2005 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2005 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Sacramento Monarchs, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to one in a...

 Evanthia Maltsi
Evanthia Maltsi
Evanthia Maltsi is a Greek professional basketball player. In 2007, she played the guard position for the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA.-WNBA career:Maltsi played for the Sun for one season...

, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 Razija Mujanovic
Razija Mujanovic
Razija Mujanović is a retired Bosnian basketball player. She started her career in Jedinstvo Aida, Tuzla, and continued in Italy, Spain, Brazil, USA, Croatia and Hungary...

, Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 Eva Němcová
Eva Němcová
Eva Horáková, née Němcová is Czech professional basketball player. The youngest of three children of Jiřina Němcová and Zdeněk Němec, she began her basketball career at the age of 18. In 1992, she played for the Czech Republic national team in that year's Summer Olympics, which finished at sixth...

, Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

 Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro is a Portuguese professional basketball player who plays for Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA...

, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 – won a championship with the Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 in 2005
2005 WNBA Finals
The 2005 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2005 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Sacramento Monarchs, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to one in a...

 and four-time All-Star Kathrin Ress
Kathrin Ress
Kathrin Ress is an Italian professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx....

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Penny Taylor, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 – two-time champion (2007
2007 WNBA Finals
The 2007 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2007 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to two in a...

, 2009
2009 WNBA Finals
The 2009 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2009 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Indiana Fever, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, faced the Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference...

) and four-time All-Star Tammy Sutton-Brown
Tammy Sutton-Brown
Tamara "Tammy" Kim Sutton-Brown is a Canadian professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. Her primary position is center.-High school years:...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 – two-time All-Star Amaya Valdemoro
Amaya Valdemoro
Amaya Valdemoro Madariaga is a Spanish professional women's basketball player.-WNBA:Valdemoro was selected with the 30th overall pick in the 1998 WNBA Draft by the Houston Comets...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 Ann Wauters
Ann Wauters
Ann Hilde Willy Wauters is a Belgian professional basketball player who currently plays for Ros Casares Valencia in Euroleague Women. Wauters played in the WNBA from 2000 to 2009, most recently with the San Antonio Silver Stars. Her primary position is center.-Personal:Wauters began playing...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 Sophia Young
Sophia Young
Sophia Yvonne Ashley Young is a Vincentian professional women's basketball player with the San Antonio Silver Stars in the WNBA...

, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Lesser Antilles chain, namely in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, which lie at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean....

 – four-time All-Star Haixia Zheng
Haixia Zheng
Zheng Haixia is a Chinese retired professional women's basketball player for the China women's national basketball team and the Women's National Basketball Association.-International career:...

, China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...



Note that some of these players, among them Abrosimova, Leuchanka, Maïga-Ba, Penicheiro, Sutton-Brown, and Young, played U.S. college basketball.

Milestones

{| class="navbox wikitable" style="width: 80%"
!colspan=5|WNBA Milestones
|-
!Milestone
!Player
!Team
!Date
!Information
|-
| First player signed
| Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...


| Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...


| October 23, 1996
| Signed by the WNBA and assigned to Houston
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

.
|-
| First points scored
| Penny Toler
Penny Toler
Penny Toler was a Women's National Basketball Association basketball player. She is currently the general manager of the Los Angeles Sparks.-College years:...


| Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| June 21, 1997
| Scored the league's first points on a baseline jump-shot.
|-
| First triple double
| Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Denise Swoopes is an American professional basketball player who, subsequent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and...


| Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...


| July 27, 1998
| 14 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists
|-
| First goaltending call
| Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Shaqueria Fowles is an American professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky in the WNBA. She is 6 ft 6 in tall and weighs 200 lbs .-Personal:...


| Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...


| June 3, 2008
| Trying to block a layup by Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...

.
|-
| First slam dunk
| Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...


| Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| July 30, 2002
| Dunked on a fast break against Miami
Miami Sol
The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

.
|-
| Most career points
| Tina Thompson
Tina Thompson
Tina Marie Thompson is a professional basketball player in the WNBA for the Los Angeles Sparks. The first draft pick in WNBA history, Thompson was selected first by the Houston Comets. She helped lead the Comets to four WNBA Championships...


| Houston
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

, Los Angeles
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| 1997–present
| 6,751 points
|-
| Most career rebounds
| Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie
Lisa Deshaun Leslie-Lockwood is a former American professional women's basketball player in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner...


| Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| 1997–2009
| 3,307 rebounds
|-
| Most career assists
| Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro is a Portuguese professional basketball player who plays for Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA...


| Sacramento
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

, Los Angeles
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| 1998–present
| 2,560 assists
|-
| Most points in a game
| Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi
Diana Lorena Taurasi is a professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Galatasaray Medical Park from Turkey...


Lauren Jackson
Lauren Jackson
Lauren Elizabeth Jackson is an Australian professional basketball player. Jackson began her professional career at the Australian Institute of Sport in the WNBL before moving on to the Canberra Capitals. She is currently a forward/centre with the Seattle Storm of the WNBA and the Australian...


| Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...


Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


| July 10, 2006
July 24, 2007
| 47 points
|-
| Most rebounds in a game
| Chamique Holdsclaw
Chamique Holdsclaw
Chamique Shaunta Holdsclaw is a professional basketball player in the Women's National Basketball Association most recently under a contract with the San Antonio Silver Stars...


| Washington Mystics
Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics is a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1998 season. The team is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment , who also owns the Mystics'...


| May 23, 2003
| 24 rebounds
|-
| Most assists in a game
| Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro
Ticha Penicheiro is a Portuguese professional basketball player who plays for Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA...


| Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...


| July 29, 1998
| 16 assists
|-
| Most career wins for a coach
| Van Chancellor
Van Chancellor
Van Chancellor is the former Louisiana State University women's basketball coach. He was named head coach on April 11, 2007, replacing Pokey Chatman. In 2001, Van Chancellor was elected to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Knoxville, Tennessee...


| Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...


| 1997–2006
| 211 wins
|-
| Most points scored by a team
| N/A
| Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...


| July 24, 2010
| 127 points in a double overtime win against Minnesota
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


|-
| Largest margin of victory
| N/A
| Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


| August 7, 2010
| 46-point win (111-65) over Tulsa
|-
| Largest attendance for one game
| N/A
| Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...


| September 16, 2007
| 22,076 in game 5 of 2007 Finals
2007 WNBA Finals
The 2007 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2007 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Phoenix Mercury, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to two in a...


|}

Teams

The WNBA originated with 8 teams in 1997, and through a sequence of expansions, contractions, and relocations currently consists of 12 teams. There have been a total of 18 franchises in WNBA history. Most WNBA teams are associated with the NBA team from the same market and are known as sister teams. These teams include the Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers are a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are members of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association...

 and Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

, the Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association...

 and Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, the Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves are an American professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association . Founded in 1989, the team is currently owned by Glen Taylor...

 and Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...

, the New York Knicks
New York Knicks
The New York Knickerbockers, prominently known as the Knicks, are a professional basketball team based in New York City. They are part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association...

 and Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

, the Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns are a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association and the only team in their division not to be based in California. Their home arena since 1992 has been the US...

 and Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

, the Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are an American professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are part of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association .-The first years:...

 and the Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...

, the San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs are an American professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas. They are part of the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association ....

 and the Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

, and the Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards are a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., previously known as Washington Bullets. They play in the National Basketball Association .-Early years:...

 and Mystics
Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics is a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1998 season. The team is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment , who also owns the Mystics'...

. Of these teams, only the Dream and the Sparks are owned separately. Though located in the same market, the Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...

 are not affiliated with the Bulls
Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls are an American professional basketball team based in Chicago, Illinois, playing in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association . The team was founded in 1966. They play their home games at the United Center...

, as evidenced by the home arena they play (the Sky play at Allstate Arena
Allstate Arena
Allstate Arena is a multi-purpose arena, in Rosemont, Illinois.It is home to the Chicago Rush, of the Arena Football League, DePaul University's men's basketball team, the Chicago Wolves, of the AHL, and the Chicago Sky, of the WNBA.It is located near the intersection of Mannheim Road and...

 in nearby Rosemont
Rosemont, Illinois
Rosemont is a village in Cook County, Illinois, United States located immediately northwest of Chicago. The village was incorporated in 1956, though it had been settled long before that...

, as opposed to the Bulls playing at United Center
United Center
The United Center is an indoor sports arena located in Chicago. It is named after its corporate sponsor, United Airlines. The United Center is home to both the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association and the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League...

). The now defunct Charlotte Sting
Charlotte Sting
The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

, Miami Sol
Miami Sol
The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

, Portland Fire
Portland Fire
The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

, Cleveland Rockers
Cleveland Rockers
This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

, Orlando Miracle
Orlando Miracle
The Orlando Miracle was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Orlando, Florida. They began play in the 1999 WNBA season. The Miracle relocated, in 2003,to Uncasville, Connecticut where the team became the Connecticut Sun...

, Houston Comets
Houston Comets
The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

 and Sacramento Monarchs
Sacramento Monarchs
The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

 were also sister teams of the Hornets, Heat
Miami Heat
The Miami Heat is a professional basketball team based in Miami, Florida, United States. The team is a member of the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association . They play their home games at American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami...

, Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers, commonly known as the Blazers, are an American professional basketball team based in Portland, Oregon. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association . The Trail Blazers originally played their home games in the...

, Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a professional basketball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They began playing in the National Basketball Association in 1970 as an expansion team...

, Magic
Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic is a professional basketball team based in Orlando, Florida. They play in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association and are currently coached by Stan Van Gundy...

, Rockets
Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. The team plays in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association . The team was established in 1967, and played in San Diego, California for four years, before being...

 and Kings
Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are a professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California, United States. They are currently members of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association...

, respectively. The Detroit Shock
Detroit Shock
The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

 was the sister team of the Pistons
Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are a franchise of the National Basketball Association based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The team's home arena is The Palace of Auburn Hills. It was originally founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the Fort Wayne Pistons as a member of the National Basketball League in 1941, where...

 until the teams' owner sold the Shock to investors who moved the team to Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 46th-largest city in the United States. With a population of 391,906 as of the 2010 census, it is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 937,478 residents in the MSA and 988,454 in the CSA. Tulsa's...

. The team is not currently affiliated with Oklahoma's NBA team, the Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a professional basketball franchise based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association ; their home court is at Chesapeake Energy Arena....

, but Shock owners left the door open for a future affiliation. The Shock are also one of two teams sharing a market with an NBA Development League
NBA Development League
The NBA Development League, or NBA D-League, is the National Basketball Association's official minor league basketball organization. Known until summer 2005 as the National Basketball Development League , the NBA D-League started with eight teams in the fall of 2001...

 team, sharing with the Thunder's affiliates, the Tulsa 66ers
Tulsa 66ers
The Tulsa 66ers are an NBA Development League team based in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the minor league affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their logo design is a basketball behind mountains with a road leading up to them, all on a U.S...

; the Sparks also share with the Los Angeles D-Fenders
Los Angeles D-Fenders
The Los Angeles D-Fenders are a NBA Development League team based in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 2006, the team is owned by the Los Angeles Lakers, which became the first National Basketball Association franchise to own a D-League team...

. The Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...

 was the sister team of the now relocated
Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City
The Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City was a successful effort by the ownership group of the Seattle SuperSonics to move the team to Oklahoma City...

 SuperSonics
Seattle SuperSonics
The Seattle SuperSonics were an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington that played in the Pacific and Northwest Divisions of the National Basketball Association from 1967 until 2008. Following the 2007–08 season, the team relocated to Oklahoma City, and now plays as...

.

As of the 2011 WNBA season
2011 WNBA season
The 2011 WNBA season is the 15th season of the Women's National Basketball Association. The regular season began on June 3 with the Los Angeles Sparks hosting the Minnesota Lynx, featuring 2011 WNBA Draft top pick Maya Moore, in a game televised on NBA TV...

, the Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...

, New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...

, Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...

, and the San Antonio Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

 (formerly Utah Starzz
Utah Starzz
The Utah Starzz were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They began play in the 1997 WNBA season as one of the league's eight original teams. The Starzz relocated, in 2003, to San Antonio, Texas where the team became the San Antonio Silver Stars...

) are the only remaining franchises that were founded in 1997.

{| class="navbox wikitable" style="width:100%; text-align:left"
|-
! style="width:9%" | Conference
! style="width:18%" | Team
! style="width:15%" | City/Area
! style="width:18%" | Arena
! style="width:18%" | Colors
! style="width:9%" | Joined WNBA
! style="width:16%" | Head Coach
|-
! rowspan=7 style="background-color: #D0E7FF; text-align: center;" | Eastern Conference
Eastern Conference (WNBA)
The Eastern Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Eastern Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Western Conference...


|-
| Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream is a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2008 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Dream Too LLC, which is composed of two Atlanta...


| Atlanta, GA
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...


| Philips Arena
Philips Arena
Philips Arena is an indoor arena in Atlanta, Georgia.Completed in 1999 to replace The Omni, at a cost of $213.5 million, it is home to the Atlanta Hawks, of the National Basketball Association, and the Atlanta Dream, of the Women's National Basketball Association...


| Sky Blue, Red, White
| align=center | 2008
| Marynell Meadors
Marynell Meadors
Marynell Meadors is a women's basketball coach at the college and professional level. She is currently the head coach and general manager of the Atlanta Dream of the Women's National Basketball Association and was one of the original eight head coaches when the WNBA started in...


|-
| Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...


| Rosemont
Rosemont, Illinois
Rosemont is a village in Cook County, Illinois, United States located immediately northwest of Chicago. The village was incorporated in 1956, though it had been settled long before that...

, IL
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...


| Allstate Arena
Allstate Arena
Allstate Arena is a multi-purpose arena, in Rosemont, Illinois.It is home to the Chicago Rush, of the Arena Football League, DePaul University's men's basketball team, the Chicago Wolves, of the AHL, and the Chicago Sky, of the WNBA.It is located near the intersection of Mannheim Road and...


| Sky Blue, Yellow, White
| align=center | 2006
| Pokey Chatman
|-
| Connecticut Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...


| Uncasville
Uncasville, Connecticut
Uncasville is an area in the town of Montville, Connecticut. The area traditionally known as Uncasville is a village in southeastern Montville, at the mouth of the Oxoboxo River...

, CT
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...


| Mohegan Sun Arena
Mohegan Sun Arena
The Mohegan Sun Arena is a 10,000 seat multi-purpose arena in Uncasville, Connecticut located inside Mohegan Sun. The arena facility features of configurable exhibition space and a clear span...


| Navy Blue, Gold, White, Red
| align=center | 1999*
| Mike Thibault
Mike Thibault
Mike Francis Thibault is an American basketball head coach, most recently of the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.-Career:Upon his graduation from Saint Martin's University in 1979, Thibault entered into the employ of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association, for whom he worked...


|-
| Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


| Indianapolis
Indianapolis
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, IN
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...


| Conseco Fieldhouse
Conseco Fieldhouse
Conseco Fieldhouse is a multi-purpose arena located in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. Opened in November 1999 to replace Market Square Arena, it is home to the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association and the Indiana Fever of the Women's National Basketball Association...


| Navy Blue, Red, Gold, White
| align=center | 2000
| Lin Dunn
Lin Dunn
Lin Dunn is an American longtime women's basketball coach. She is most known for being the first coach and general manager for the Seattle Storm. She has more than 500 wins to her name....


|-
| New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...


| Newark
Newark, New Jersey
Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

, NJ
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...


| Prudential Center - thru 2013
| Blue, Orange, White, Green
| align=center | 1997
| John Whisenant
John Whisenant
John Whisenant is currently head coach for the New York Liberty in the Women's National Basketball Association . He graduated in 1966 with a B.S. degree in physical education from New Mexico State University and earned an M.A. in history from Pittsburg State University.-Career:Whisenant's nickname...


|-
| Washington Mystics
Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics is a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C., playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1998 season. The team is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment , who also owns the Mystics'...


| Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....


| Verizon Center
Verizon Center
Verizon Center is a sports and entertainment arena in Washington, D.C., USA, named after telecommunications sponsor Verizon Communications, and has been nicknamed the "Phone Booth" because of its association with telecommunications companies...


| Blue, Gray, White, Red
| align=center | 1998
| Trudi Lacey
Trudi Lacey
Trudi Lacey is an American basketball head coach, most recently of the Washington Mystics of the Women's National Basketball Association .-References:*...


|- style = "border-top:2px solid black;"
! rowspan=7 style="background-color: #FFCCCC; text-align: center;" | Western Conference
Western Conference (WNBA)
The Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association is made up of six teams.The Western Conference playoffs is divided into two playoff rounds, The Conference Semi-Finals and The Conference Finals with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Eastern Conference...


|-
| Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks is a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began...


| Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, CA
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...


| Staples Center
Staples Center
Staples Center is a multi-purpose sports arena in Downtown Los Angeles. Adjacent to the L.A. Live development, it is located next to the Los Angeles Convention Center complex along Figueroa Street. Opening on October 17, 1999, it is one of the major sporting facilities in the Greater Los Angeles...


| Purple, Gold
| align=center | 1997
| Joe Bryant
Joe Bryant
Joseph Washington "Jellybean" Bryant is a retired American professional basketball player, current coach, and the father of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Bryant was the head coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks from August 22, 2005 until April 4, 2007...


|-
| Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


| Minneapolis, MN
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...


| Target Center
Target Center
The Target Center is an arena in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is sponsored by Target Corporation. The arena has a capacity of 20,500 people. It contains 702 club seats and 68 suites....


| Blue, Green, White, Silver
| align=center | 1999
| Cheryl Reeve
Cheryl Reeve
Cheryl Reeve is an American basketball head coach, currently the head coach of the reigning Women's National Basketball Association champion Minnesota Lynx.-Career:...


|-
| Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...


| Phoenix
Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix is the capital, and largest city, of the U.S. state of Arizona, as well as the sixth most populated city in the United States. Phoenix is home to 1,445,632 people according to the official 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data...

, AZ
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...


| US Airways Center
US Airways Center
US Airways Center is a sports and entertainment arena located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. It opened in 1992, and is the home of the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association, the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association, and the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena...


| Purple, Yellow, Orange, White
| align=center | 1997
| Corey Gaines
Corey Gaines
Corey Yasuto Gaines is an American former professional basketball player and the current coach of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury....


|-
| San Antonio Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...


| San Antonio, TX
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...


| AT&T Center
AT&T Center
AT&T Center is an indoor arena, located in San Antonio, Texas, USA. It seats 18,581, for basketball , 13,800, for ice hockey and 19,000, for concerts or religious gatherings and contains 2,018 club seats, 50 luxury suites and 32 bathrooms .It was completed in 2002, as the SBC...


| Black, Silver
| align=center | 1997*
| Dan Hughes
Dan Hughes
Dan Hughes is an American basketball head coach, most recently of the San Antonio Silver Stars of the Women's National Basketball Association .-Career:...


|-
| Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


| Seattle, WA
| KeyArena
KeyArena
KeyArena at Seattle Center , is a multipurpose arena, in Seattle, Washington. It is located north of downtown in the entertainment complex known as Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 World's Fair, the Century 21 Exposition...


| Green, Red, White, Gold
| align=center | 2000
| Brian Agler
Brian Agler
Brian Agler is a basketball coach, currently the head coach of WNBA's Seattle Storm. He has been the head coach of two other professional women's teams, and won two professional titles as coach....


|-
| Tulsa Shock
| Tulsa
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 46th-largest city in the United States. With a population of 391,906 as of the 2010 census, it is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 937,478 residents in the MSA and 988,454 in the CSA. Tulsa's...

, OK
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...


| BOK Center
BOK Center
The BOK Center, or Bank of Oklahoma Center, is a 19,100-seat multi-purpose arena and a primary indoor sports and event venue in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States. Designed to accommodate arena football, hockey, basketball, concerts, and similar events, the facility was built at a cost of $178 million...


| Black, Red, Gold
| align=center | 1998*
| Teresa Edwards
Teresa Edwards
-External links:******...


|-
| colspan=7 align=left |
An asterisk (*) denotes a franchise move. See the respective team articles for more information.
|}

Former teams

  • Charlotte Sting
    Charlotte Sting
    The Charlotte Sting was a Women's National Basketball Association franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was one of the league's eight original teams. The team folded on January 3, 2007....

     – 1997–2006 (folded)
  • Cleveland Rockers
    Cleveland Rockers
    This article is about the defunct WNBA team; for the American Basketball Association team, see Cleveland Rockers .The Cleveland Rockers were a Women's National Basketball Association team that played from 1997 until 2003. The Rockers were one of the original eight franchises of the WNBA, which...

     – 1997–2003 (folded)
  • Detroit Shock
    Detroit Shock
    The Detroit Shock was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA champion...

     – 1998–2009 (relocated; became the Tulsa Shock)
  • Houston Comets
    Houston Comets
    The Houston Comets were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Houston, Texas, United States. Formed in 1997, the team was one of the best original eight WNBA teams and won the first four championships of the league's existence. The Comets were the first dynasty of the WNBA and...

     – 1997–2008 (folded)
  • Miami Sol
    Miami Sol
    The Miami Sol was a women's basketball team which joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000. They played their games at American Airlines Arena. The team folded after the 2002 season because of financial problems...

     – 2000–2002 (folded)
  • Orlando Miracle
    Orlando Miracle
    The Orlando Miracle was a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Orlando, Florida. They began play in the 1999 WNBA season. The Miracle relocated, in 2003,to Uncasville, Connecticut where the team became the Connecticut Sun...

     – 1999–2002 (relocated; became the Connecticut Sun
    Connecticut Sun
    The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...

    )
  • Portland Fire
    Portland Fire
    The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers. They played their games at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The team folded after the 2002 season, after just three seasons in the league...

     – 2000–2002 (folded)
  • Sacramento Monarchs
    Sacramento Monarchs
    The Sacramento Monarchs were a basketball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until folding on November 20, 2009...

     – 1997–2009 (folded)
  • Utah Starzz
    Utah Starzz
    The Utah Starzz were a Women's National Basketball Association team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They began play in the 1997 WNBA season as one of the league's eight original teams. The Starzz relocated, in 2003, to San Antonio, Texas where the team became the San Antonio Silver Stars...

     – 1997–2002 (relocated; became the San Antonio Silver Stars
    San Antonio Silver Stars
    The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...

    )

Potential additions

In 2007, investors took steps to re-create the Colorado Chill
Colorado Chill
The Colorado Chill were a professional women's basketball team playing in the National Women's Basketball League from 2004-2006. Based in Loveland, Colorado, they were Colorado's second and longest-lived women's pro basketball team...

, a previously successful franchise in the now-defunct NWBL
National Women's Basketball League
The National Women's Basketball League, often abbreviated to the NWBL, was an organization governing professional basketball leagues for women in the United States. The league was founded in 1997 and began play in the Fall of that year. The league used to have its own season during the off-season...

, as a WNBA expansion team. In September 2007, Chill backers announced that they had not raised enough money to join the WNBA for the 2008 season.

In August 2008, Norm Freedman, whose history with basketball dates back about 35 years, headed a group of investors interested in bringing a WNBA franchise to play out of the Ricoh Coliseum
Ricoh Coliseum
Ricoh Coliseum is an ice hockey and agricultural arena at Exhibition Place in Toronto. It serves as the home arena of the Toronto Marlies, the American Hockey League farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Toronto Triumph of the Lingerie Football League. It was formerly known as the CNE...

 in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. "The prospects are better than 50%," Freedman said. "The WNBA is quite positive, and so am I, that a team in Toronto will do well."

In 2008, news surfaced that the WNBA was focusing on Nashville
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 as a possible site for expansion. Former President Donna Orender
Donna Orender
Donna Orender is a sports executive and a former collegiate and professional basketball player. She was recently president of the WNBA. She grew up on Long Island, New York and was a five-sport athlete in high school, lettering in basketball, field hockey, volleyball, softball, and tennis. She is...

 claimed that "Tennessee is so logical" referring to the success of women's college basketball in that area.

The city of Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 may see a WNBA team in the future. Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon announced that the WNBA said Baltimore may be a location for a WNBA expansion team if a new arena is built in the city.

Former President Orender announced that the league would attempt to secure ownership for a team in the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

 in the near future.

The WNBA Draft

Every spring, the WNBA Draft
WNBA Draft
The WNBA Draft is an annual draft held by the WNBA through which WNBA teams can select new players from a talent pool of college and professional women's basketball players. The first WNBA draft was held in 1997...

 is held at ESPN headquarters in Bristol
Bristol, Connecticut
Bristol is a suburban city located in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States southwest of Hartford. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 61,353. Bristol is primarily known as the home of ESPN, whose central studios are in the city. Bristol is also home to...

, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

. From 2005 to 2008, the draft was held in the city that hosted the NCAA Women's Final Four
NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship
The NCAA Women's Division I Championship is an annual college basketball tournament for women. Held each April, the Women's Championship was inaugurated in the 1981–82 season...

. In 2009 and 2010, the draft was held at league headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey
Secaucus, New Jersey
Secaucus is a town in Hudson County, New Jersey. As of the 2010 United States Census, the town population was 16,264. Located within the New Jersey Meadowlands, it is the most suburban of the county's municipalities, though large parts of the town are dedicated to light manufacturing, retail, and...

. The draft is currently three rounds long with each of the 12 teams in the league (trades aside) getting three picks each. Draft order for teams that made the playoffs the previous year are based on team records. The team with the highest previous record will pick last. Since eight teams qualify for playoffs
WNBA Playoffs
The WNBA Playoffs is a best-of-three elimination tournament between eight teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association , ultimately deciding the final two teams who will play in the WNBA Finals....

, the bottom eight picks are determined by this method. For the remaining top four picks, a selection process similar to the NBA Draft Lottery
NBA Draft Lottery
The NBA Draft Lottery is an annual event held by the National Basketball Association in which the teams who had missed the playoffs in the previous season, or teams who hold the draft rights of another team that missed the playoffs in the previous season, participate in a lottery process to...

 is conducted for the four teams that did not qualify for the playoffs.

Regular season

Following the winter break, teams hold training camps in May. Training camps allow the coaching staff to evaluate players (especially rookies), scout the team's strengths and weaknesses, prepare the players for the rigorous regular season, and determine the 11-woman roster with which they will begin the regular season. After training camp, a series of preseason exhibition games are held. The WNBA regular season begins in May.

During the regular season, each team plays 34 games, 17 each home and away. Each team plays three in-conference teams 4 times each (12 games) and two in-conference teams 5 times each (10 games). Each team then plays the six out-of-conference teams twice (12 games). As in the NBA, each team hosts and visits every other team at least once every season.

WNBA All-Star Game

In July, the regular season pauses to celebrate the annual WNBA All-Star Game. The game is part of a weekend-long event, held in a selected WNBA city each year. The actual game is played on the selected WNBA team's home court. The All-Star Game features star players from the Western Conference facing star players from the Eastern Conference. During the season, fans get to vote for the players they would like to see start the game. In 2004, The Game at Radio City was in held in place of a traditional All-Star Game. The 2006 All-Star Game was the first game to feature custom uniforms that match the decade anniversary logo. Due to the Olympics, there was no WNBA All-Star Game in 2008. In 2010, an exhibition game (Stars at the Sun) was held.

Shortly after the All-Star break is the trading deadline. After this date, teams are not allowed to exchange players with each other for the remainder of the season, although they may still sign and release players. Major trades are often completed right before the trading deadline, making that day a hectic time for general managers.

Awards

Around the beginning of September, the regular season ends. It is during this time that voting begins for individual awards. The Sixth Woman of the Year Award
WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Sixth Woman of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 2007 WNBA season to the league's most valuable player for her team coming off the bench as a substitute . A panel of sportswriters and broadcasters...

 is given to the best player coming off the bench (must have more games coming off the bench than actual games started). The Rookie of the Year Award
WNBA Rookie of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Rookie of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 1998 WNBA season, to the top rookie of the regular season. The winner is selected by a panel of sportswriters throughout the United States, each of whom...

 is awarded to the most outstanding first-year player. The Most Improved Player Award
WNBA Most Improved Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Most Improved Player Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 2000 WNBA season, to the most improved player of the regular season. The winner is selected by a panel of sportswriters throughout the United States,...

 is awarded to the player who is deemed to have shown the most improvement from the previous season. The Defensive Player of the Year Award
WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Defensive Player of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season, to the top defensive player of the regular season...

 is awarded to the league's best defender. The Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
The Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season, to the player who most "exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court—ethical behavior, fair play and integrity." This is the same criterion used by the...

 is awarded to the player who shows the outstanding sportsmanship on and off the court. The Coach of the Year Award
WNBA Coach of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Coach of the Year is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. The winner is selected at the end of regular season by a panel of sportswriters from the United States, each of whom casts a vote...

 is awarded to the coach that has made the most positive difference to a team. The Most Valuable Player Award
WNBA Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. MVP voting takes place immediately following the regular season. The award recipient is decided by a panel of sportswriters and...

 is given to player deemed the most valuable for (her team) that season.

Also named are the All-WNBA Teams, the All-Defensive Teams
WNBA All-Defensive Team
The WNBA All-Defensive Team is an annual Women's National Basketball Association honor given since the 2005 WNBA season to the best defensive players during the regular season. Voting is conducted by the WNBA head coaches who are not allowed to vote for players on their own team...

, and the All-Rookie Team
WNBA All-Rookie Team
The WNBA All-Rookie Team is an annual Women's National Basketball Association honor given since the 2005 WNBA season to the top rookies during the regular season. Voting is conducted by the WNBA head coaches, who are not allowed to vote for players on their own team. Each coach selects five...

; each consists of five players. There are two All-WNBA teams, consisting of the top players at each position, with first-team status being the most desirable. There are two All-Defensive teams, consisting of the top defenders at each position. There is one All-Rookie team, consisting of the top first-year players regardless of position.

2011 Award Winners

{| class="navbox wikitable" style="width: 80%"
!colspan=2 width=150|Award
!width=125|Winner
!width=125|Position
!width=125|Team
!width=125|Votes/Statistic
|-
|colspan=2| Most Valuable Player Award
WNBA Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. MVP voting takes place immediately following the regular season. The award recipient is decided by a panel of sportswriters and...


| Tamika Catchings
Tamika Catchings
Tamika Devonne Catchings is an American professional basketball player for the Indiana Fever of the WNBA and Turkish team Galatasaray. She is a prolific scorer close to and far from the basket, as well as a capable rebounder, ball handler, and defender. After playing at Adlai E...


| Forward
| Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever is a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


| 292 out of 1,071
|-
|colspan=2| Finals MVP Award
| Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx, WBC Spartak Moscow Region and the US national team...


| Guard/Forward
| Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


| Unanimous
|-
|colspan=2| Rookie of the Year Award
WNBA Rookie of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Rookie of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 1998 WNBA season, to the top rookie of the regular season. The winner is selected by a panel of sportswriters throughout the United States, each of whom...


| Maya Moore
Maya Moore
Maya April Moore is an American basketball forward for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA and Ros Casares Valencia of Euroleague. Moore was the winner of the 2006 and 2007 Naismith Prep Player of the Year. She was selected as the John Wooden Award winner in 2009 after leading Connecticut to the...


| Forward
| Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


| 38 out of 40
|-
|colspan=2| Most Improved Player Award
WNBA Most Improved Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Most Improved Player Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 2000 WNBA season, to the most improved player of the regular season. The winner is selected by a panel of sportswriters throughout the United States,...


| Kia Vaughn
Kia Vaughn
Kia Vaughn is a professional women's basketball player for the WNBA's New York Liberty. She attended high school at St. Michael's All Girls High School in New York, and later went on to star at Rutgers University....


| Center
| New York Liberty
New York Liberty
The New York Liberty is a professional basketball team based in New York City, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was one of the eight original franchises of the league...


| 15 out of 40
|-
|colspan=2| Defensive Player of the Year Award
WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Defensive Player of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season, to the top defensive player of the regular season...


| Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Shaqueria Fowles is an American professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky in the WNBA. She is 6 ft 6 in tall and weighs 200 lbs .-Personal:...


| Center
| Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. The team is owned by Michael J. Alter and Margaret Stender...


| 19 out of 40
|-
|colspan=2| Sixth Woman of the Year Award
WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Sixth Woman of the Year Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the 2007 WNBA season to the league's most valuable player for her team coming off the bench as a substitute . A panel of sportswriters and broadcasters...


| DeWanna Bonner
DeWanna Bonner
DeWanna Bonner is an American professional basketball player. She currently plays the forward position for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA.-Personal life:...


| Guard/Forward
| Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...


| 20 out of 40
|-
|colspan=2| Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
The Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season, to the player who most "exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court—ethical behavior, fair play and integrity." This is the same criterion used by the...


| Sue Bird
Sue Bird
Suzanne Brigit "Sue" Bird is an American professional women's basketball player for the Seattle Storm and WBC Spartak Moscow Region....


Ruth Riley
Ruth Riley
Ruth Ellen Riley is an American professional basketball player for the San Antonio Silver Stars in the Women's National Basketball Association . Her Notre Dame team won the NCAA women's championship in 2001, and her Detroit Shock team won the WNBA championship in 2003 and 2006...


| Guard
Center
| Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm is a professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the 2000 season began...


San Antonio Silver Stars
San Antonio Silver Stars
The San Antonio Silver Stars are a professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; the team moved to San Antonio...


| 8 out of 39
|-
|colspan=2| Peak Performer: Points
WNBA Peak Performers
The Women's National Basketball Association Peak Performer Awards are given each year to players who lead the WNBA in scoring, rebounding, and assists...


| Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi
Diana Lorena Taurasi is a professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Galatasaray Medical Park from Turkey...


| Guard/Forward
| Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury is a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded before the league's inaugural 1997 season began; it is one of the eight original franchises...


| 21.6 PPG
|-
|colspan=2| Peak Performer: Rebounds
WNBA Peak Performers
The Women's National Basketball Association Peak Performer Awards are given each year to players who lead the WNBA in scoring, rebounding, and assists...


| Tina Charles
Tina Charles (basketball)
Tina Charles is an American women's basketball player with the Connecticut Sun of the Women's National Basketball Association and the Galatasaray Medical Park of the TWBL. Originally from Jamaica, New York, Charles was drafted 1st overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft...


| Center
| Connecticut Sun
Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun is a professional basketball team based in Uncasville, Connecticut, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded in Orlando, Florida before the 1999 season began; the team moved to Connecticut before the 2003 season...


| 11.0 RPG
|-
|colspan=2| Peak Performer: Assists
WNBA Peak Performers
The Women's National Basketball Association Peak Performer Awards are given each year to players who lead the WNBA in scoring, rebounding, and assists...


| Lindsay Whalen
Lindsay Whalen
Lindsay Marie Whalen is an American professional basketball player for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA. She began her pro career as a point guard for the Connecticut Sun...


| Guard
| Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


| 5.9 APG
|-
|colspan=2| Coach of the Year Award
WNBA Coach of the Year Award
The Women's National Basketball Association's Coach of the Year is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season. The winner is selected at the end of regular season by a panel of sportswriters from the United States, each of whom casts a vote...


| Cheryl Reeve
Cheryl Reeve
Cheryl Reeve is an American basketball head coach, currently the head coach of the reigning Women's National Basketball Association champion Minnesota Lynx.-Career:...


| Coach
| Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing in the Western Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association . The team was founded prior to the 1999 season...


| 36 out of 40
|}

Olympic-year seasons

During years in which the Summer Olympics are held, the WNBA takes a month off in the middle of the season to allow players to practice and compete with their respective national teams. Most recently for the 2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

 held in Beijing, China
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, most of August was taken off. The regular season ran from May 17, 2008 to September 14, 2008 (the Olympic break was from July 28, 2008 to August 27, 2008). The WNBA Playoffs
WNBA Playoffs
The WNBA Playoffs is a best-of-three elimination tournament between eight teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association , ultimately deciding the final two teams who will play in the WNBA Finals....

 and WNBA Finals
WNBA Finals
The WNBA Finals is the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association and the conclusion of the sport's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002....

 led into October.

The WNBA Playoffs

The WNBA Playoffs currently begin in late September, with four teams in each conference qualifying for the playoffs. Having a higher seed offers several advantages. Since the first seed plays the fourth seed, and the second seed plays the third seed, having a higher seed generally means one will be facing a weaker team. The team in each series with the better record has home court advantage.

The first two playoff rounds follow a tournament format with each team playing a rival in a best-of-three series, with the first team to win two games advancing into the next round, while the other team is eliminated from the playoffs. For the first round, the matchups by seed are 1st vs 4th and 2nd vs 3rd. In the second round, the successful team plays against the other advancing team of the same conference. This leaves one surviving team from each conference. In both rounds, the best-of-three series follows a 1-1-1 home-court pattern, meaning that the higher-seeded team will have home court in games 1 and 3 while the other team plays at home in game 2. This pattern has been in place since 2010 (changed from 1-2 format, where the lower seed hosted the opening game).

The WNBA Finals

The final playoff round, a best-of-five series between the victors of each conference, is known as the WNBA Finals, and is held annually, currently scheduled for October. Each player on the winning team receives a championship ring. In addition, the league awards a WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
The Women's National Basketball Association Finals Most Valuable Player is an annual Women's National Basketball Association award given since the league's inaugural season....

. For this round, the series follows a 2-2-1 pattern, meaning that one team will have home court in games 1, 2, and 5, while the other plays at home in games 3 and 4. The 2-2-1 pattern in the WNBA Finals has been in place since 2005.

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! colspan=2 style="background:#FFE6BD; color:#000000" | The WNBA Finals
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