While we were still trying to catch our collective breath from the excitement of the NCAA Tournament, the WNBA knocked the wind out of us with an amazing draft presentation. The draft went virtual for the second consecutive year but in true W fashion, they did not deprive the ladies of any of the glitz and glamour they deserve. They upgraded from Cathy’s living room to ESPN Studios and gave the draftees a virtual orange carpet to flaunt their awesomeness. It was a night to remember for all involved. If this event was a clear indication of anything, it’s that the WNBA is a hot commodity.
Anyone who is still questioning the league’s marketability or appeal would have seen that the W has it in spades. The profile of the WNBA and women’s basketball in general is on the rise. Also, the league is taking a more strategic approach to giving the game the platform it deserves. The shift is happening in real time as the WNBA is reaching never before seen heights in popularity. And the world is noticing. When the #1 pick in the draft has her dress designed by the same person who crafted Michelle Obama’s classic inauguration look, please believe that the league’s reach is extending beyond the world of sports. And Charli Collier definitely was stunning in her custom Sergio Hudson look.
Not only did the ladies deliver fashion-wise (as they always do), but with the draft being virtual there was plenty of opportunities for them to have their personality on full display. Aari McDonald had a backdrop that played on her viral moment during the tournament when she had to set the record straight about the pronunciation of her name. Michaela Onyenwere’s grandmother stole the show with her celebratory dance. And Rennia Davis didn’t have time for Holly Rowe, as she was excitedly doing a play by play on her own highlights. It’s great that all of this was captured on the main ESPN network, giving the league full visibility. Last year’s draft, the bubble and the 2021 draft proved that there is an audience that’s clamoring for content. All you have to do is make it accessible to them.
If you were anywhere near social media Thursday night, then you already know what the most important event of the evening was. Everyone from Kevin Durant to Magic Johnson chimed in on the draft. The international crowd was tuned in as Awak Kuier and Iliana Rupert had their names called. The darlings of the NCAA tournament that were drafted will be carrying their fanbases over to the W. It’s an exciting time for the league and the momentum is only getting stronger. With new threads coming this season, teams returning to market, another historic draft night and an infusion of new talent into the league, the 25th season of the WNBA might be one of the greatest in league history. If you’re still not in the fold, it’s never too late to get on the bandwagon.