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2011/12/29

Women Basketball League

The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) is not only the longest running women's basketball league in North America, it is also the longest running women's team sport league in United States history. The league began in 1996 with its first full season starting in 1997.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) supported the WNBA in their beginning as both the US Men's and Women's basketball teams were gold medal winning in the Summer Olympics of 1996. The WNBA runs on many of the same league rules as the NBA. Both have Eastern and Western Conferences. These conferences have playoffs at the end of their regular seasons, building to an ending series between the two conference champions.

The women's basketball league season has 34 games played from June to October. In the middle of the season, there is a WNBA all star game with the top stars of the Eastern Conference facing the top stars of the Western Conference. The fans of the WNBA vote through the season to make sure the most popular stars make it to the All Star game.

In 1997, the women's basketball league started with eight teams. By the 2000 season the number had grown to 16. Still, the teams were owned by the NBA until 2002 when they were sold to the franchises in their particular cities or to third party owners. Also in 2002, there was a threatened strike by the players because they wanted to plot out a new agreement with the WNBA. This strike stopped the beginning of the 2003 season. Two teams relocated and at the end of 2003 the Cleveland Rockers went out of business.

Val Ackerman, who was the first president of this women's basketball league, made it known in 2004 she would be resigning. Donna Orender, the Senior Vice President of the PGA was her replacement. Orender had in fact played in the former Women's Basketball League. In 2005, the expansion team the Chicago Sky began. Also in 2005, the rules of the WNBA were changed to mimic the NBA. In this way, the WNBA more so than any women's basketball league became and is still becoming more like their male counterparts.

Discussion: Do you watch the WNBA? What interests you about it?

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