Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Now playing:
On Air
Listen Live
(Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)
(Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

New professional women's basketball league coming to U.S.

During the WNBA off-season, many players continue playing basketball by competing for European teams. Some in recent years have been hesitant to do so for various reasons. Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier stopped playing overseas when she gave birth to her first child in 2022 but says that was just one of the reasons she stepped away. She added it strains her family having to be away six months out of the year, and finding childcare in a foreign country can be difficult. Last year, New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart suited up for Fenerbahce, a Turkish club. Still, with her wife, Marta Xargay, expecting the couple's second child very soon, she was unsure whether she wanted to continue playing overseas.

To alleviate these issues, Stewart and Collier are creating a new offseason women's basketball league to give WNBA players an option to play domestically during the offseason.

The league, called Unrivaled, will run from January through March and feature the top 30 professional women's players. They will compete on six teams and play games of three-on-three and one-on-one at a soundstage in Miami.

The league's goal is to raise enough money through private funding and sponsorships to ensure players receive the same amount of money as they would during a WNBA season.

Another reason players want to continue to play in the U.S. is due to the WNBA's prioritization rule, created for the 2020 collective bargaining agreement. It states that players must return from overseas by the start of training camp to be eligible for the upcoming season. Overseas seasons often run through mid-May, which conflicts with the start of the WNBA season.

Unrivaled will join Athletes Unlimited as the only other off-season basketball league in the States. Athletes Unlimited completed its first season in Las Vegas from late January to late February. 

The announcement of Unrived isn't the only big news in the league. The WNBA recently approved plans for the Golden State Warriors to own and operate an expansion team in the Bay Area. The Warriors will have them play their games at the Chase Center in San Francisco but practice in Oakland. 

A name for the team has yet to be announced, but it will include Golden State and possibly Warriors. This marks the first time the Bay Area will have a women's professional basketball team since 1998, when the San Jose Lasers of the American Basketball League folded midway through the team's third season. The new Bay Area team will begin play in 2025.

There has also been speculation that the WNBA could expand beyond the border into Toronto, Canada. However, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the NBA's Toronto Raptors and NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, announced they would not pursue an expansion team. If an expansion team ever comes to Toronto, it won't involve MLSE as owners.

Similar Posts