It’s Time for the WNBA Finals, You Gays!

Welcome to the WNBA Finals! We did it, folks. Tonight, the number two seeded Las Vegas Aces take on the number one seeded Seattle Storm in Game 1, airing on ESPN2.

The Storm got here by sweeping the Minnesota Lynx, while the Aces went five games with the Sun. The Sun’s defense nearly shut down Vegas’ offense, but the Sun struggled to make shots and ultimately, you can’t win a game if you don’t score points. So here we are.

Seattle is a well-oiled machine and, judging by how they looked in the semis, they’re going to be hard to beat, especially with Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart locked in together. But the Aces have MVP A’ja Wilson and vet Angel McCoughtry who has just as much playoff experience as Bird.

Instead of a standard matchup preview, because that’s not really my thing, I thought we’d recap some of the out players on each team and what to watch for from each of them.


Seattle Storm

The Storm have Sue Bird. The last time the Storm were in the Finals, in 2018, they won. That was when we had masked Sue, doing superhero shit. She’s been in the WNBA since 2003 and any season now could be her last. She’s been plagued by knee injuries the last two years, but when she’s on the court she brings a quiet confidence and steady leadership to her team. Speaking of Sue Bird, maybe you’ve heard of her girlfriend?

Breanna Stewart returned from an Achilles injury this season looking like no time at all had passed. Her on-court chemistry with Bird is key to the team’s offensive flow and she was in the MVP conversation this year. There’s not really anything Stewie can’t do, and I lack the ability to break down her game in words other than “yes” and “wow.”

Natasha Howard is a key part of the Storm’s defense and when she’s also making shots on the other end of the floor, adds a lot to their game (Howard faced allegations of domestic violence from her wife last year.)

The team will be without Sami Whitcomb off the bench, as she went back to Australia to await the birth of her first child.


Las Vegas Aces

There are two players (both queer) to keep an eye on for the Aces, who will be difference makers for their team if they can get going. The first is Angel McCoughtry. McCoughty is a veteran who is in her first year with Vegas after spending 12 years with the Atlanta Dream, where she took them to several WNBA Finals appearances. She has more playoff experience than the rest of her team combined. She didn’t get a ton of minutes during the regular season and she was out last year with a knee injury so perhaps people forgot about Angel. But she reminded everyone why she is one of the best of all time in the semis, where she came out in Game 4 and casually dropped 29 points. If Angel is hot, watch out.

The other player who is sometimes overlooked but should not be underestimated is Danielle Robinson. She was insulted after the Sun hardly guarded her at all in the first game and came back determined to show she was a threat. Robinson is quick and can be quietly lethal. Don’t sleep on her. And, just because, here she is being very very cute with her wife:


Fun Stuff from the W This Week

Turns out viewership was up 68 percent this season, proving that a) there is an audience for women’s sports and b) if you put it on TV, people will watch it. LIKE WE’VE BEEN SAYING.

Last week, the Aces’ Kayla McBride opened up to The Players’ Tribune about her struggles with mental health. It’s vulnerable and real and worth a read.

There was some good trash talking on WNBA Twitter this week now that players are out of the Wubble. Candace Parker, who was named Defensive Player of the Year (voted on by media) failed to make a first or second defensive team (voted on by coaches), the first time in WNBA history that’s happened. She let the world know how she felt about it:

View this post on Instagram

#Unbothered

A post shared by Candace Parker (@candaceparker) on

Meanwhile, while watching the ~questionable~ officiating in the Aces-Sun series, players shared their own experience with the refs in the Wubble.

The Aces Liz Cambage may have sat out the 2020 season, but she granted us with a Finals Week gift anyway: she posed for Playboy and talked about being 6’8” and enjoying sex. “Me doing Playboy is me celebrating my sexuality like, ‘Yeah, I am a straight six-foot-eight woman who likes to have sex.’ I’m a human; it’s what we do. As a female athlete, I feel like I’m not allowed to be sexy and I’m not allowed to be that person. All society wants from me is to sit down, shut up, go to training and play my sport.”

Britni is a freelance writer whose work sits at the intersection of sports, gender, & queerness. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Vogue, The Atlantic, Vox, and many more.

Britni has written 11 articles for us.

22 Comments

  1. After I had already filed this column, Megan Rapinoe dropped some TRUTH over at the Players’ Tribune (something we’ve talked about in this very column and in the comments sections, too!):

    “I think we need to be careful about calling the support that we [the USWNT] got a “feminist” breakthrough, when it’s only part of the way there. Because when the support only extends to “white girls next door” sports? That’s not feminism — or at least it’s not the kind of feminism that I’m here for. I don’t have time for any kind of feminism that’s not real and total — from race to class to religion to gender identity to sexual orientation to everything in between.

    And I guess I just have to wonder, when I see the millions of viewers we’re getting, and the shine on SportsCenter, and the talk show appearances and the endorsement deals and all of that…..

    Where’s that same energy for the best women’s basketball players on the planet?? Where’s that energy for the women’s sports that — instead of scanning cute and white and straight — scan tall and black and queer??

    Where’s that conversation?

    As far as I’m concerned, there’s no conversation worth having without it.”

    Read the whole thing:https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/megan-rapinoe-seattle-storm-wnba-finals

    And then admire this tweet: https://twitter.com/tobinmindpalace/status/1312059822418939904

  2. other outlets are reporting different numbers for WNBA viewership, but it’s not clear to me that we are looking at apples:apples (https://www.sportsmediawatch.com/tag/wnba-ratings/); i’m not sure where to find the actual numbers. if season viewership was down there are some bright spots, even so.

    i watched 242/264 games, and got friends to tune in as well. the only ones i skipped were the LVA games because their coach is everything I dislike about sports. congratulations to the women on the team, but that guy ruins it for me. i’m sorry to miss the finals because the storm are really fun to watch, but rooting for them even harder despite not watching.

    thank you again for the fantastic coverage!

    • I was thinking of you and rooting for the Sun to win so you could watch the finals. I’m sorry you have to miss them. It sucks that BL will likely be around awhile because his team is doing so well and he’s a white man so he is less likely to be fired anyway.

      • appreciate your kind thought. while i was rooting for them, too, mostly did for Dewanna Bonner. also their coach seems like a pretty decent guy and it would have been cool for him to return.

        super glad that you will be watching! going be great basketball. hoping Epiphany Prince will slot in for Sami Whitcomb without missing a beat, and w/b nice for her to beat her old team.

  3. It’s kind of hilarious that people were trying to act like the refereeing was biased against the Aces because of…what? One T against A’ja? While CT got a mere 9 free throws in a closeout game (against 22 for LV) and a big contributor to their shooting struggles was AT getting mugged with no calls and indeed having multiple questionable offensive fouls called against her. She normally shoots 5.6 FTs a game (5th most in the league) and didn’t get a single one in this game. But a ref got his feelings hurt by a swear word and gave CT one (1) point so I guess it all evens out.

    • their coach also had complaints that the rescheduled games, where his team had to play the 1 and 3 teams back-to-back the last weekend of regular play, were in particular trying to disadvantage his team. every other coach seemed pretty clear that the work stoppage was necessary for the players to discuss Jacob Blake’s shooting.

        • They’re a good team and they are making themselves a thing. Yeah their coach is a dick, but the players are making themselves a thing by what they did on the court this year. I say this as someone who also can’t bring herself to actively root for them because of Laimbeer.

    • Yeah, I haven’t been able to celebrate her playing since I found out even though I like the Storm a lot.

      In general I have also found WNBA media and fans very quiet about DV in the league despite being very vocal about other things.

  4. I don’t have the subscriptions to see the full games but thanks to this coverage I watched some of the highlight reels and (string of positive exclamations) I’m gobsmacked.

    I’ve never been a fan of basketball before but now I realize it’s the dudes I didn’t like. Call me captain obvious…

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