WNBA national TV schedule features Brittney Griner's return, heavy dose of super-teams Liberty, Aces
The WNBA announced its national TV slate on Wednesday with an emphasis on super-teams.
The New York Liberty will enter the season as championship favorites following a banner offseason that saw them add Breanna Stewart, Courtney Vandersloot and Jonquel Jones to a roster already featuring All-Star Sabrina Ionescu. Stewart, Vandersloot and Jones are each four-time All-Stars and both Stewart and Jones are former league MVPs. The Liberty are scheduled to play a league-leading 12 nationally broadcast games on ABC and the ESPN networks.
The defending champion Las Vegas Aces are next up with seven games games on national TV. After securing their first WNBA title, they added six-time All-Star and two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker to their lineup. The Aug. 6 Aces-Liberty matchup in Las Vegas will air on ABC, while the Aug. 28 rematch in New York will be shown on ESPN2.
Brittney Griner's scheduled debut to tip off national TV slate
The first national broadcast of the season is scheduled to feature the return of seven-time All-Star Brittney Griner after she missed last season while incarcerated in Russia. Griner spent 10 months in Russian custody after allegedly carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil into the country last February.
The U.S. classified Griner as "wrongfully detained." She returned to the U.S. via a prisoner swap in December and has since vowed to return to the Phoenix Mercury lineup this season.
The Mercury open their season against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19 in a game that will be featured on ESPN.
All 12 WNBA teams will get at least one turn on national TV. A Chicago Sky team that tied the Aces for the league's best regular season record last year will only be featured twice. The Sky ended up on the wrong end of high-profile player movement while losing Vandersloot to the Liberty and Parker to the Aces.
The WNBA also announced on Wednesday the July 15 All-Star Game will be featured in prime time on ABC for the first time, and that ESPN’s "WNBA Countdown" pregame show will now air before regular season games.
The full WNBA schedule was previously announced. The national TV schedule is as follows: