How to Include WNBA Stars in NBA All Star Weekend

I love NBA All Star weekend! It is honestly one of my favorite events in sports. I watch the live practices during the day Saturday, rookie and celebrity games on Friday, all of Saturday night’s events and of course, the game itself on Sunday night. I find it all very entertaining.

But you know what it’s missing though? Women.

I’m not just saying this for gender equality and all of that, I am saying that the NBA would benefit from include WNBA stars in some of their events.

There are more eyeballs on NBA All Star weekend than any non-Finals event during the season. Despite being over 20 years old, the WNBA is still a growing entity. You want to grow it? This is one way to it.

There are a couple of women playing in the celebrity game on Friday, but that game’s purpose is mostly comedic entertainment. That’s not the best way to portray the stars.

It’s NBA All Star Weekend, so you don’t want to take away from the NBA guys on Saturday, but what if they did several events throughout the weekend leading up to “finals” during Saturday night’s events.

Here me out. NBA Fan Jam/Experience is a cool event that allows fans to interact with players, play games, win prizes and do all kinds of activities. Always held at the nearby convention center and is a huge hit for fans, especially families with kids (I would know, I enjoyed this more than the events as a kid). What if they had the skills competition and three point shootout for the ladies during the Fan Jam? You can set up a meet-and-greet/autograph session afterwards, to allow fans to get to know the women.

Allow the 2 finalists to compete on Saturday night in both activities. Two women face off in the Skills Competition and than the winner faces the NBA winner. And do the same for the three point competition.

It won’t add much time to the overall amount, it gives the WNBA exposure and allows casual (or non-viewing) WNBA fans to learn about some of the players and perhaps give them a reason to tune in this summer.

What’s the harm? College basketball treats their three point shootout this way, where men and women compete separately and than face each other.

I know, the WNBA has their own set of events over the summer but given the obvious overlap in the leagues and the target audiences, what better way to introduce new fans to your players than by doing it during All Star Weekend.

Doing it this way doesn’t feel forced. People always debate the superiority of men vs women, so why not let them battle it out in two competitions that really doesn’t favor one gender or the other.

Side note – you know what I miss? They used to do a “Shooting Stars” competition which featured one active NBA player, one “legend” or older player and one WNBA player. I loved that! It was a great way to mix NBA, WNBA, and history into one simple event. It also allowed a broader range of teams to participate. For example, the Knicks never had a three point shooter or dunker but always had a team in this, so it got me excited. It’s an easy way to shoe-horn the home team into an event too. I wish they would bring that back.

Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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