June 21, 1997 will forever be etched in stone as the date of the inaugural WNBA game.
The sold-out crowd of 14,284 fans gathered at the Great Western Forum – the longtime home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers – to watch the New York Liberty versus the Los Angeles Sparks.
Among the honorees are Sparks forward, Candace Parker, and Minnesota Lynx forward, Maya Moore, who were adolescents at the time of the league’s founding, are now the WNBA’s brightest stars.
In Parker’s eight WNBA seasons, she was named the 2008 Rookie of the Year and voted as a two-time regular season MVP (2008, 2013).
Moore has won a WNBA championship in three out of five seasons (2011, 2013, 2015), in addition to being voted as the 2013 WNBA Finals MVP and the 2014 regular season MVP.
Their upcoming matchup will once again place June 21st in the record books as it is the first time in the WNBA, NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL that two teams with ten or more wins, no losses, and no ties will meet during the regular season.
In addition to being two of 20 most influential WNBA players on the court, Moore and Parker have also cemented themselves as vocal off the court leaders who are championing increased exposure for the league.
In 2015, Moore penned the Players’ Tribune essay – (In)Visibility – where she called for celebrating the female athlete and the WNBA product. Moore described growing up without a local WNBA team, so instead she chose to admire the Houston Comets – the dominant team at that time – and WNBA pioneers Tina Thompson, Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl Swoopes.
Women whom she said, “I saw myself in them and them in me.” Today, Moore stands next to them as one of the league’s greatest players.
When asked what changes she has seen since writing her essay, Moore said, “In general media coverage has improved. This a good year for women’s basketball with the Olympics coming around and our 20th season. I am confident that the piece that I wrote was a good part of the conversation that has led to more conversations. I think we are heading in the right direction so far in 2016.”
While a lot of sports fans still wonder where the league is headed, the consensus among WNBA players and coaches is that in its 20th season the league is on an upward trajectory.
For more information on the WNBA’s Top20@20 presented by Verizon visit WNBA.com.
The full list includes nine current players: Maya Moore, Candace Parker, Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Cappie Pondexter, Diana Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen. Eleven former players are also among the honorees: Cynthia Cooper, Yolanda Griffith, Becky Hammon, Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, Deanna Nolan, Ticha Penicheiro, Katie Smith, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson and Teresa Weatherspoon.