Top (Get It?) Moments From Inside the WNBA Draft

Monday night I had the honor of sitting amongst basketball legends at the 2024 WNBA Draft. The event, hosted at the BAM center in Brooklyn, had sold out in 15 minutes and was buzzing with crowd of fans ignited by the rapidly growing fervor for women’s basketball. Oh, and it was pretty fucking gay. The highlights are of course available online, but there were also many magical moments happening off camera. Some of the top moments from this year’s draft:

The “Three Musketeers” Award

Before the draft officially started, Jake From State Farm, LSU coach Kim Mulkey, and USC coach Dawn Staley walked into the draft…. and they all sat together! I couldn’t believe it when I turned to find legendary red suit wearer, Jake from State Farm, standing next to us. He was giving straight corporate icon! Then Kim Mulkey walked down to say hello to her fellow straight. Minutes later, the audience erupted in cheers for this year’s National Championship winner, Dawn Staley, who hugged Mulkey then sat in front of her. The three of them in a row looked like they formed a mad libs three musketeers, and there’s just something queer about an unexpected trio.

The Number 1 Pick

As they announced Caitlin Clark as the first pick of the night, the entire audience jumped to their feet cheering. It was truly electric energy in the room as she walked to the stage in head-to-toe Prada. She said this was the first time Prada had dressed a basketball star (men’s or women’s) for a draft, but that’s only because she couldn’t see me in the audience writing “Prada” on all of my clothing. In the audience, Clark’s fellow Iowa teammate Kate Martin cheered her on, unaware that later in the draft she would be asked to move to the aisle as a camera stood nearby for “no reason.” Showing up to support your friend and then getting drafted yourself? Iconic!

The Holly Rowe Chant

Holding down the night with the post-pick interviews was sports commentator Holly Rowe. And let me just say, it appears the gays love Rowe! Something magical happened in the audience… At one point, a fan in the front row stood up and led a chant of “When I say Holly, you say Rowe! Holly! Rowe!” The moment held cinematic parallels to the AMC Nicole Kidman promo beloved by gays, where it was clear Rowe had been chosen as a queer icon of the night despite not being intended as the main attraction.

Aaliyah Edwards and Her Fan Section

The love in the room for UConn star Edwards erupted as she got called as the draft’s sixth pick. In what’s already been given the meme treatment, fellow teammates Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd proudly filmed like two gay moms cheering on their prodigal child. Even before the draft started, Edwards spent what I think was a record amount of time signing whatever fans held up in front of her (I saw one person take their shoe off and have it signed. Edwards is a hero for signing that in my opinion).

The Fashion

Everyone looked stunning, with Clark’s Prada look and Angel Reese’s incredible silver dress leaving big impressions. But a few other fashion moments stuck out for me.

First, Dyaisha Fair stood out as the only player rocking a tux. She paired the sequined black tux with a red bow tie that matched the flower in her pocket, which was a subtle nod to her hometown of Rochester, New York being a Flower City.

Second, Alissa Pili’s worked with designer Jason Wu to create tribal print that honored her Samoan and Indigenous Alaskan heritage. In her post-pick interview she discussed the lack of representation for indigenous and Polynesian girls, and how she was looking forward to getting to be a role model for them as she joins the league for the Minnesota Lynx.

And finally, Rickea Jackson walked the orange carpet in a red two piece, but when she accepted her Sparks jersey onstage she had a new stunning silver sparkling suit look. The event was tightly timed and spaced, so making an outfit change work feels legendary!

Honoring Past and Future Stars

While it seems like the WNBA has exploded this year, the night was full of the draft stars taking time to honor and recognize the people who helped get them here. Projected on the screen at one point was Clark’s elementary school dream goals, which included joining the WNBA and meeting legend Maya Moore (mission accomplished). Angel Reese, after getting drafted to the Chicago Sky, thanked her family as she talked about how she couldn’t wait to be coached by another legend, Teresa Weatherspoon, before hugging and thanking former coach Mulkey. Also going to Chicago, Kamilla Cardoso gave a beautiful speech spotlighting her sister for inspiring her to play basketball as she talked about leaving Brazil at 15 with the goal of giving her family a better life. Evident throughout the night in every player’s post-pick interview was the idea that it truly does take a village.

The Gayest Thing in the Room?

The crowd!

Outside the venue, I watched fans come together to boo OutKick, the rightwing media site that recently asked Dawn Staley before the national championship if transgender athletes should be allowed to play (which she answered with a resounding “duh!”). Seated inside, there was a group of lesbians in front of me that included multiple ex-girlfriends attending together. Some absolutely stunning suits and chains were on display fashion wise. And long time fans cheered alongside newer fans in a very queer tradition of intergenerational connections. The atmosphere is always welcoming, so if you haven’t fully jumped into watching women’s basketball now is your time. You can also learn more about the league by following all the gay players online and reading Autostraddle’s 101 guide. Long live the W!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Tina Sieben

Tina Sieben is a stand up comedian based in New York City. They delight audiences regularly at clubs and bars with a laid back, sarcastic perspective on life. They are a contributor for Reductress, have been featured in Newsweek, and have had their tweets appear in the Huffington Post.

Tina has written 1 article for us.


Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!