It also marks the return of 2018 league MVP Breanna Stewart, the 2016 No. 1 pick who tore her Achilles in EuroLeague play after winning the 2018 championship with the Storm. She returned to basketball with Team USA in January.
Veteran point guard Sue Bird, the 2002 No. 1 pick and three-time Storm champion, will also make her return after a knee injury sidelined her last season.
WNBA’s opening day national tripleheader
The tripleheader continues when the Los Angeles Sparks, led by Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike, face the Phoenix Mercury at 3 p.m. ET on ABC. Diana Taurasi is expected to be back at full strength after dealing with injuries the majority of 2019. The Mercury also added Skylar Diggins-Smith in free agency to add to a stacked team that includes Brittney Griner.
“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,” commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.
There will also be national tripleheader coverage on Sunday. The 2019 runner-up Connecticut Sun will face the Minnesota Lynx at noon ET on ESPN. The Chicago Sky and Las Vegas Aces will play at 3 p.m. ET on ABC, and the Dallas Wings and Atlanta Dream will finish the weekend at 5 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.
How can I watch the WNBA?
The season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, will consist of 22 games for each of the 12 teams. The regular season will conclude Sept. 12.
ESPN and CBS Sports Network hold rights to the WNBA games. ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 will air 12 doubleheaders, comprising 24 games total. Three will be on ABC and six on ESPN.
Carol Stiff, ESPN’s vice president of programming and acquisitions, said in a statement:
“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.”
CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network will air 40 games, including 11 doubleheaders and one tripleheader. For the first time in league history a game will be played on CBS proper.
Other games will be on NBA TV and the WNBA League Pass.
Black Lives Matter featured in opening weekend
The league gave more details on how it will focus on social justice initiatives this season, beginning with the opening weekend of games.
As part of “The WNBA Justice Movement,” team uniforms will feature the name of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police while sleeping in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment in March.
Players can individually decide to continue wearing her name in ensuing games. Warm-up shirts will feature “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back. The league wants to raise awareness for women and girls who are forgotten victims of police abuse.
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