NEW YORK (660 NEWS) — Another milestone for the Women’s National Basketball Association.
The recent draft was the most-watched WNBA draft in nearly two decades and the second most-watched in ESPN’s history (It was shown in Canada on both Sportsnet and TSN).
The New York Liberty selected Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon with the first overall pick. The 22-year-old put the sports world on notice in February when she became the first player in NCAA history to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds in a career.
— WNBA (@WNBA) April 17, 2020
“I kind of like the pressure,” she told Sportsnet earlier this week of joining the Brooklyn-based franchise. “I like feeling that it’s me that has to come in and help this program and help this team. And not only for us, for women’s basketball as a whole. I definitely don’t let it consume me and don’t overthink about it. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, and everything else just falls into place.”
And her selection by the Liberty will make her a teammate of Canada’s Kia Nurse for the first time.
“We’re both really excited to be able to join forces and play together,” Ionescu said. “She’s super nice, and I love her game. I’m excited to learn from her.”
During her interview with Sportsnet, Ionescu also touched on the relationship between the WNBA and NBA — one she says is crucial for the WNBA’s success.
“They’re where we’re striving to be,” she offered. “Those arenas fill up. Everyone’s watching those games, everyone’s buying those jerseys and buying those shoes, so I think the WNBA does need the NBA.
“But I think the roles can also be switched. I think the NBA needs the WNBA as well. Because I think those men end up finding a lot of inspiration and a lot of support through the females that they’re watching. And it kind of just unites us.”
The success of the draft is just another feather in the WNBA’s cap in 2020.
Earlier this year, the league signed a new labour deal, dubbed historic by commissioner Cathy Engelbert. The agreement allows top players to earn more than $500,000, while the average annual compensation is surpassing six figures for the first time.
The deal also includes expanded travel and child care benefits, more off-season career development opportunities, a more liberal free agency system, and a more robust and equitable revenue-sharing model based on league revenue growth.
– with files from The Associated Press