The Women’s National Basketball Association has finalized its revised 2020 schedule, and will begin its quarantined campaign July 25 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Following on previously set plans between the WNBA and Women’s National Basketball Players Association to play an amended 22-game regular season and playoffs, the league will begin with a weekend slate of back-to-back days of nationally televised tripleheaders across ABC, ESPN, and the CBS Sports Network.
The debut game will be the Seattle Storm, led by 2018 league most valuable player Breanna Stewart, against the New York Liberty, who drafted former University of Oregon superstar Sabrina Ionescu with the top overall draft pick, and immediately has become a merchandising force for the league.
“As we build on the momentum for women’s sports and the WNBA from last season, we’re incredibly grateful to our broadcast partners who have shown a continued commitment to bringing the WNBA to fans across the country on their biggest platforms,” said Cathy Engelbert, WNBA commissioner. “This 2020 WNBA season will truly be one unlike any other, and we’re looking forward to using our collective platform to highlight the tremendous athletes in the WNBA as well as their advocacy for social change.”
The regular season will conclude September 12, followed by the league’s usual playoff format of single-elimination first and second rounds, and five-game series for the semifinals and WNBA finals. The 2020 season was originally due to start in May but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
All 12 teams will play during the league’s opening weekend, and the WNBA plans to honor the Black Lives Matter movement throughout its game operations and on player uniforms. During that first weekend, all team uniforms will display the name of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician who in March was fatally shot by Louisville, Kentucky, police in her own apartment.
Players will have the option to continue to wear Taylor’s name for subsequent games. And during the entire season, players will wear warmup shirts reading “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back
In total, the league schedule will include at least 64 national telecasts national across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS and the CBS Sports Network.
“Our continued collaboration with the WNBA has resulted in a schedule that features every team in the league, three appearances by the reigning champion Washington Mystics and the professional debut of No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu, all further spotlighting the amazing talent that is the WNBA,” said Carol Stiff, ESPN vice president of programming and acquisitions.