Women’s basketball is thriving in the United States of America. The WNBA Finals between the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces has fans more excited than ever.
There is certainly no shortage of opportunities to have a good time in Las Vegas. Competition for the Strip’s audience heats up every night of the week between Cirque de Soleil, David Copperfield and Golden Knights hockey games. So the fact that Game 1 of the WNBA Finals last Sunday was sold out to last place was an accolade for women’s basketball.
Anyone who was lucky enough to get a ticket to the New York Liberty vs. Las Vegas Aces match at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where Pavarotti actually performed, had no sense of being relegated to an undercard — a second-tier event.
The fact that the home team won the match 99:82 enhanced the good mood in the stadium. This year’s WNBA Finals feel like prime time.
This included celebrity appearances. Football star Tom Brady arrived and sat just a few seats away from fellow NBA player LeBron James. Half of the Brooklyn Nets men’s team flew across America to support their teammates in New York. Pop singer Ashanti sang the national anthem.
The league celebrates the biggest growth in its history
A lot of it seems like the sport’s breakthrough into big-time entertainment. The WNBA celebrated record viewership and the largest increase in its history this season.
The All-Star game was watched by 850,000 people on screens, and the exciting semifinal match between New York and Connecticut attracted 920,000 viewers even on an NFL Sunday. The league’s earnings situation is so good that it has announced a one-team expansion for the 2025 season.
Over the course of at least two more games in the final series, it can be assumed that the number of spectators will exceed the one million mark for the first time. The hype surrounding the series exceeds anything that has existed in women’s basketball. There is talk of an epic confrontation between two “super teams”, which could be compared to the final between football teams Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
Both New York and Las Vegas owners, including Tom Brady since the beginning of the year, have invested heavily in recent years. Joseph Tsai, owner of the New York Liberty and founder of Chinese internet giant Alibaba, brought WNBA champions Natasha Howard and Sammy Whitcomb to New York after last season. However, he pulled off his major coup in February by signing the exceptional Brianna Stewart.
He competed like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson
Thus Liberty became the only real competitor to defending champion Las Vegas around better player A’ja Wilson. Both teams dominated the season to the point that fans were looking forward to the big showdown.
The marketing of the Finals has been aided by the fact that Aja Wilson and Brianna Stewart have dominated the league as captains of their team for ten years now. Four of the last six MVP awards have gone to one of the two, including this year’s award to Stewart.
Fans and commentators are interested in great rivalries like the one between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Like that classic comparison, the Wilson/Stewart duo has black/white and East Coast/West Coast components, both of which have fans excited.
The first match in Vegas lives up to the hype. The Aces’ clear win at the end masked the fact that the game was tied for a long time, with a great performance from Breanna Stewart. But regardless of who wins the title in the end: women’s basketball has already won.
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