Women's National Basketball Association: History and Growth

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It certainly seems unfair that WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson, highest paid WNBA player, can make a maximum of $87,000 per year, while perennial NBA disappointment Shawn Bradley is guaranteed a minimum of $1,100,000. Many people believe it isn’t fair that males playing basketball should receive higher pay than the females playing basketball at the professional level. In the USA, employees completing the same job are supposed to have equal pay because the USA is based on gender equality. NBA players are among the highest paid employees on the planet, while WNBA players are earning an average between $46,000 to $60,000 a year. Even though the WNBA has only recently been established, the NBA receives more attention than the WNBA in several different ways. The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) will hopefully grow in the next few years (Issaquah Par. 1-3).

The National Basketball Association created the Women’s National Basketball Association. The idea behind the WNBA began in 1996 when the Olympics were held in the United States. The United States Women’s Basketball Team traveled across America meeting fans. The women’s team won the gold medal in the Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia. The American people wanted to see these new basketball stars play in there own league in the United States. The NBA decided to start WNBA teams in the cities that already possessed NBA teams. The women would play while the men were on summer vacation (Owens 6).
The WNBA began in 1996 and originated with eight teams. One of the first teams in the league was the Los Angeles Sparks. They had Lisa Leslie on their team, who was famous before the Women’s National Basketball Association. She was one of the best United States basketball players. There were players from other countries coming to play in the United States in order to take advantage of the opportunity (Owens 9-13). The other WNBA teams formed to start the season in 1997 were the Phoenix Mercury, Utah Starzz, Sacramento Monarchs, Cleveland Rockers, New York Liberty, Houston Comets, Miami Sol, and the Portland Fire (The Associated Press 1-14).

There are now 14 teams total in the WNBA. As of 2008, the teams consisted of the Detroit Shock, Los Angeles Sparks, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Houston Comets, Indiana Fever, Minnesota Lynx, New York Liberty, Sacramento Monarchs, Phoenix Mercury, San Antonio Silver Stars, Seattle Storm, Washington Mystics, and, the newest team joining the WNBA, is the Atlanta Dream. The WNBA is split into two conferences the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each conference consists of 7 teams. Teams in the Eastern Conference are the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Detroit Shock, Indiana Fever, New York Liberty, and Washington Mystics. The Western Conference is made up of Houston Comets, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, Sacramento Monarchs, San Antonio Silver Stars and the Seattle Storm. Having conferences helps decided the top teams in the WNBA (WNBA Enterprises 1-10).

The Women’s National Basketball Association began with eight teams in 1997 and expanded to 16 teams in 2002; three franchises folded by the start of the 2004 season. Cleveland, Miami, and Portland no longer exist as WNBA teams. In 2003, the Utah Starzz moved to San Antonio to become the Silver Stars. Chicago became a team in 2006 (The Associated Press 1-14). The Women’s National Basketball Association will tip off its 12 season of play on Saturday, May 17. Twelve of the 14 teams will play on the opening day (WNBA Enterprises Par. 1).

The WNBA has established itself since 1996 and with its first season in 1997. There are now higher salaries; the league minimum was $5000 in 1997. Now, everyone in the WNBA makes at least five figures. No one has yet brought home a million dollars. There is a feeling that this milestone is not too far away. There has been a vast move forward in salaries since the league started...
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