WNBA stars launch new pro women's basketball league in the US
The GIST: The women’s professional basketball landscape is leveling up. NY Liberty star Breanna Stewart and the Minnesota Lynx’s Napheesa Collier announced the launch of a new women’s league called Unrivaled yesterday, creating another domestic alternative for WNBA players during the offseason.
The details: Unrivaled will host 3x3 and 1-on-1 games from January to March in Miami, although no official start date has been announced. The league will field six franchises stacked with the top 30 WNBA stars, and plans to offer the players competitive salaries.
- The 3x3 game is on the rise. From WNBA teams investing in the format to the recent U.S. domination on the growing global court, three seems to be the magic number.
The context: Unrivaled joins Athletes Unlimited (AU) as a U.S. offseason alternative for WNBA players. AU Basketball runs for five weeks in the winter and features 44 of the best pros competing as individuals within a unique scoring system.
- In its first season, AU athletes made about $1.3K per game, comparable to a WNBA rookie salary, while top athletes earned around $3.3K — only half of a top W contract.
Zooming out: Especially after the horrifying and wrongful imprisonment of Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, finding ways for WNBA athletes to supplement their income while staying home during the offseason is more important than ever — even if it means some friendly competition.
- While the WNBA, Unrivaled, and AU might be competitors on paper, giving athletes multiple offseason opportunities is a huge step forward for player safety, and a win for fans and sponsors interested in women’s basketball.