In case you were wondering, the NBA’s lockout has no effect on the WNBA. I know that stray thought entered my mind when considering the possible ramifications the lockout might have on the NBA’s other operations.
Six of the 12 teams in the WNBA are owned and operated by NBA teams. For these teams facilities are still open for basketball… just only for the WNBA teams. The NBA lockout has not even crossed their minds.
“I don’t think it really is a concern,” Indiana Fever center Tamika Catchings told The Seattle Times. “We’re keeping the WNBA and NBA separate. It’s definitely one of those things that everybody hopes they can get settled. But as far as the WNBA and NBA, we have to focus on what we’re doing and put out a great product that people will continue to come and support.”
The WNBA is celebrating its 15th season of play and the NBA lockout is only casting a dark shadow on the league. It is difficult to watch the Sparks play basketball at Staples Center while the Lakers and Clippers sit on the sidelines. All NBA players have been stripped from the community service and public service ads on NBATV and during WNBA games. It really means for the first time since its inception, the WNBA is standing largely on its own.
There is little NBA talk for the league to try any cross promotion to help boost up the WNBA. If you are watching the WNBA, it is likely because you want to (no judgments, please).
One thing is known though, the WNBA and NBA despite sharing owners do not share a union. The league has its own collective bargaining agreement and operates on its own despite being under the NBA’s watchful eye and control.
Don’t expect a WNBA work stoppage until the collective bargaining agreement expires in 2013. Catchings said the players have not gotten “down and dirty” yet, but they are moving toward formulating a strategy. I am sure the players will want some fixes to the schedule and perhaps a pay increase. Many of the top women players play year-round and make most of their money playing overseas.
The last NBA lockout occurred during the WNBA’s second season. Back then the NBA was largely keeping the league afloat and putting all its weight behind it. NBC had coverage of the Finals that saw the Houston Comets win their second straight championship in front of a pretty raucous crowd.
The league certainly is nowhere near ready to stand on its own. It just has not hit the mainstream public or even mainstream basketball fans. It needs the support the NBA can bring except in select markets — Seattle, Connecticut and Tulsa most notably.
But basketball is basketball, right? It might be the only basketball we have in the U.S. for a while.
Photo via DayLife.com.