Women’s Basketball Will Never Be Marquee Sport, But It’s Come a Long Way as WNBA Turns 15

Women's Basketball Will Never Be Marquee Sport, But It's Come a Long Way as WNBA Turns 15 This story is about the WNBA.

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I wouldn't call myself a women's basketball fan. I've probably watched fewer than a half-dozen games in the last five years, and they all involved UConn, Baylor or both.

I distinctly remember watching one game while clicking over during commercials of "Con Air" on FX.

Still, it is notable that when the WNBA on Tuesday announced the 30 finalists for its 15th anniversary team, almost every name was recognizable to a casual sports fan.

Sheryl Swoopes? Lisa Leslie? Chamique Holdsclaw? Near-household names.

Sue Bird? Lauren Jackson? Candace Parker? You've heard of them. Admit it.

It says a lot for how far the women's game has come that even a cynical fan can now identify the top players. The 1970s, '80s and early '90s gave us a grand total of three recognizable women's players — Nancy Lieberman, Cheryl Miller, Teresa Edwards — but since the WNBA's inception in 1997, there are more than three dozen who enjoy something approaching stardom. And Rebecca Lobo didn't even make the WNBA's list.

You might be surprised to learn that the WNBA season is under way. (I was.) You probably won't set your DVR to cue up the New York Liberty take on the San Antonio Silver Stars. (I wouldn't.) You may rather watch a rerun of the curling competition from the last Olympics than buy a ticket to the Connecticut Sun. (I definitely would.)

And I'd still rather watch a bad Nicholas Cage movie on cable.

There are enough people out there who care, though, and enough little girls who idolize Swin Cash and Becky Hammon for women's basketball to be relevant nowadays. That in itself shows the game has come a long way.

Given time, who knows how much farther it will go?

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