by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
WNBA All-Star Game
July 22 @ 12:30pm
The WNBA's top players will face off against each other this weekend here in Seattle, as the Emerald City hosts the league's annual All-Star Game for the very first time. Divided into two teams, East and West, a total of 24 players will participate in Saturday afternoon's game in front of a seated audience at Key Arena and millions more tuning into the live telecast.
Representing the host city, Sue Bird (Guard) and Breanna Stewart (Forward/Center) were selected from the Seattle Storm. Joining them on the West squad are Diana Taurasi (Guard) and Brittney Griner (Center) from the Phoenix Mercury, Maya Moore (Forward), Sylvia Fowles (Center), Seimone Augustus (Forward/Guard) and Rebekkah Grunson (Forward) from the Minnesota Lynx, Candace Parker (Forward), Nneka Ogwumike (Forward) and Chelsea Gray (Guard) from the Los Angeles Sparks and Skylar Diggins-Smith from the Dallas Mercury. The starting lineup is Bird, Taurasi, Moore, Parker and Fowles. The West team is coached by Cheryl Reeve from the Minnesota Lynx.
Playing for the East team are Tiffany Hayes (Guard), Layshia Clarendon (Guard) and Elizabeth Williams (Center) from the Atlanta Dream, Jasmine Thomas (Guard), Jonquel Jones (Forward/Center) and Alyssa Thomas (Forward) from the Connecticut Sun, Tina Charles (Center) and Sugar Rodgers (Guard) from the New York Liberty, Stefanie Dolson (Center) and Allie Quigly (Guard) from the Chicago Sky, Elena Delle Donne (Forward/Guard) from the Washington Mystics and Candace Dupree (Forward) from the Indiana Fever. Hayes, Thomas, Delle Donne, Jones and Charles are on the starting lineup. The East team is coached by Curt Miller from the Connecticut Sun.
Of the players chosen to compete in the WNBA All-Star Game, staged at the midpoint of the ongoing season, four are openly lesbian: Griner, Augustus and Delle Donne, who announced her engagement last year to longtime girlfriend Amanda Clifton, and the Storm's own Bird, who publicly announced she was gay on the morning of July 20 and is currently dating another Seattle lesbian athlete, Megan Rapinoe of the Seattle Reign women's pro soccer team.
'I'm gay. Megan's my girlfriend. ...,' Bird told ESPNW during an interview that broke Thursday just before the noon hour. 'These aren't secrets to people who know me. I don't feel like I've not lived my life. I think people have this assumption that if you're not talking about it, you must be hiding it, like it's this secret. That was never the case for me.'
Earlier this year, retired player Candice Wiggins created controversy within the league when she said during an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune that '98% of the women in the WNBA are gay women' and that she was bullied during her eight-year professional career because she was heterosexual. However, several players, both retired and active, contradicted her statement, including Chicago Sky star Imani Boyette, who responded by blog that 'There is literally a woman from every walk of life in the league, which is why I love it so much. I have never experienced the bullying you spoke about, and I hope no one else ever does.'
Ticha Penicheiro, a member of the 2005 Sacramento Monarchs championship team and now an agent, further stated, 'I played in the league for 15 years - for three different franchises - and never experienced it personally, or witnessed any other player being bullied.'
Bird incidentally won the popular pre-game event, the Three-Point Shootout, by sinking 36 of 84 three-point shots, followed closely by Maya Moore who made 33 of 82. The Storm guard, who is 36 year-old, is the oldest player in the entire league and the most decorated, having won two WNBA titles with Seattle and earned four gold medals as a member of the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Team USA women's basketball program.
ABC will televise the game, which gets underway at 12:30pm on Saturday, July 22 inside Key Arena. For tickets, go to www.StormBasketball.com or www.keyarena.com.
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!