Warriors' Steph Curry expects Bay Area WNBA team to be ‘first-class' originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
Stephen Curry walked over and changed the channel on his personal TV inside the Warriors locker room at Chase Center. Not because he hates preseason NBA highlights but because more captivating highlights were available.
He preferred highlights from the WNBA Finals between the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty. Curry knows the players, some of them personally. He is as much a fan of their game as the world is of his.
So, count him among those who will have seats at Chase when a WNBA team begins play there in 2025. The league announced in October that Warriors CEO Joe Lacob and co-chairman Peter Guber purchased rights to an expansion franchise.
“It's a great opportunity for the WNBA to expand, which is a big deal, to get opportunities, roster spots, money coming into the league, putting these amazingly talented ladies on stage,” Curry told NBC Sports Bay Area on the latest episode of "Dubs Talk," which debuted Thursday. “I know how the Warriors organization has treated us from the time Joe and Peter took over back in 2010 to now, running a first-class organization/operation. They're going to do the same thing with the WNBA team.”
If Lacob and Guber fall short in their commitment, Curry will be the first to let them know. He’s appreciation of the game goes back to his days at Davidson College and increased after he entered the NBA in 2009. He is among the most active NBA players at advocating not just for females competing at the college and professional levels but also those interest in elementary school.
Curry has a close relationship with UConn star Azzi Fudd, a regular during Steph’s offseason workouts and camps. Stanford star Cameron Brink is his “godsister;” Steph’s mother, Sonya, and Cameron’s mother, were roommates at Virginia Tech and became godmothers to each other’s children.
To that end, Curry hopes that either Fudd or Brink can find their way to the San Francisco franchise, which has not yet announced a nickname.
“It's all exciting,” Curry said. “It's about growing the game. It's about bringing great, fresh energy to it. And we can do it in the bay and under this organization. It should be first-class all the way around.”
The WNBA is growing not only in the number of franchises but in the amount of support it is getting from fans. The 2023 season posted the highest TV ratings in the league’s 21-year existence, 21 percent over 2022. Attendance took a 16-percent leap over ‘22.
The back-to-back WNBA champion Aces averaged 9,551 fans per game and drew 17,406 to their regular-season finale against the Phoenix Mercury.
The perks of the NBA – charter flights, five-star hotels etc. – have yet to make it to the women’s league, but the general belief is that will soon change.
“It's what should be happening,” Curry said. “I know there's a kind of a wave of momentum from TV slots and opportunities of how the game is marketed, the number of eyeballs that are on it and the amount of talent that's in the league.”
Curry was quick to point out that a considerable number of college stars – Caitlin Clark, Paige Bueckers, Brink and Fudd to name four – are soon to enter the league with advance hype.
This is engagement not new for Curry. He anticipated growing interest and has been a participant. He was the first marquee athlete in America to request his manufacturer, Under Armour, design basketball shoes specifically for girls.
That was a response to an incident in 2018, when 9-year-old Riley Morrison of Napa clicked on the Under Armour website seeking a pair of Curry 5s, only to discover they did not come in girl’s sizes. She wrote a letter to Steph and his response made history.
Riley, who happens to share the first name of Curry’s eldest daughter, not only got her wish but helped with the design.
Consider Curry among the original fans of the women’s game who soon will enjoy the growth of the WNBA with a team in his own backyard.
“It's exciting,” he said of WNBA expansion. “It is the way it should be.”