2023 WNBA All-Star Game preview
📖 The history
MLB hosted the first-ever All-Star Game in pro sports back in 1933 with great success, inspiring the NBA to launch its own edition in 1951, five years after the league’s inception. It was a no-brainer for the W to get in on the fun, and the inaugural WNBA ASG was held in 1999, two years after the league’s first season.
- That first W ASG featured a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden, a national anthem performance from Whitney Houston, and a matchup featuring W legends Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper, and Lisa Leslie. It’s giving nostalgiacore.
- With the exception of Olympic years, 2010 (replaced by the exhibition Stars at the Sun event) and 2020 (canceled due to COVID-19), the contest has been held annually ever since.
⚙️ How it works
This year, 10 All-Star starters were selected by a mix of 50% fan, 25% WNBA player, and 25% media vote. 12 additional reserves (aka substitute players) were then chosen by the WNBA head coaches (who cannot vote for their own players).
- The Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson and the New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart received the highest fan vote totals, making them team captains for the second consecutive year.
- Team Wilson came out on top in 2022, so you can bet Stewie’s looking for revenge in the rematch.
From there, captain Wilson and Stewie each drafted from the player pool (of starters and reserves) regardless of conference, meaning today’s squads each include a mix of hoopers from East and West. Best of both worlds, baby.
♠️ Team Wilson
The captain: Reigning WNBA MVP Wilson led the league in fan votes, which is no surprise considering she’s averaging 19.7 points per game this season and leading the league in blocks. Even better — Wilson is a three-time, undefeated All-Star captain who has never missed an ASG in her six seasons in the league. Sheesh.
The starters: Wilson used the first pick of the draft to ensure her Aces teammate and Finals MVP Chelsea Gray was by her side, but she didn’t stop there, snagging another member of the Aces squad, sharpshooter Jackie Young. What happens in Vegas…stays on Team Wilson.
- Making her All-Star debut is Indiana Fever’s Aliyah Boston, whose breakout year propelled her to become the eighth rookie ever selected as a starting All-Star. Smash Mouth could never.
A player to watch: Record-setting triple-double queen Alyssa Thomas, who was snubbed for a starting role in the ASG, but is on a tear for the Connecticut Sun. Thomas is second in the league in assists per game and minutes played, not-so quietly making a case for MVP in her 10th season.
🗽 Team Stewart
The captain: Two-time WNBA champion Stewart is thriving in her home state NY, with the most rebounds and second-highest points average (23.1) in the W this season. The record-setter (and emoji-lover) is a five-time All-Star, but she’s never won the ASG as a captain, adding a spicy bit of drama to this showdown.
The starters: Stewart chose none other than the Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner as the No. 2 overall pick. Selected to her ninth ASG, Griner’s return comes a year after she was named an honorary All-Star starter last season while wrongfully detained in Russia. No. 42 on the court, and always No. 1 in our hearts.
- Since Stewie left Seattle for the Big Apple, the Storm have struggled, but their fearless leader Jewell Loyd is shining, grinding it out as the top-scorer in the W. Unfortunately, a recent ankle injury could keep her on the sidelines at the ASG.
Players to watch: Much like Wilson, Stewart stuck to what she knows, drafting her fellow Liberty teammates, Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot, from the reserves. With Loyd possibly out, either of these guards could jump to a starting spot — Ionescu relishes her hero role in NY, while Vandersloot leads the league in assists per game. Can’t go wrong.
📺 How to tune in
The festivities tip off tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC in the U.S., and Sportsnet in Canada. Happy hoopin’ to all and to all a good night.