WNBA Finals

The WNBA Finals are the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the conclusion of the league's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002. Starting 2016 Verizon is the official sponsor.

The series is played between the winners of the playoff semifinals. At the conclusion of the championship round, the winner of the WNBA Finals is presented the championship trophy. The WNBA Finals has been played at the conclusion of every WNBA season in history, the first being held in 1997.

Since 2005, the winner of the WNBA Finals has been determined through a 2–2–1 format. The first, second, and fifth games of the series are played at the arena of the team who earned home court advantage by having the better record during the regular season.

WNBA Finals logo
WNBA Finals logo

History

The WNBA Finals were originally a single championship game to decide the WNBA champion. However, in 1998, after the addition of two teams, the WNBA Finals were turned into a best-of-three games series. In 2005, the WNBA Finals adopted a best-of-five format. This finale series was known as the WNBA Championship from 1997 to 2001, before changing to reflect its NBA counterpart. In 2016, the WNBA changed to its current playoff format seeding teams #1 thru #8 regardless of conference making it possible for two Eastern Conference or two Western Conference teams to meet in the Finals.

Year Winner Result Loser Finals MVP
1997 Houston Comets [a] 65–51 New York Liberty Cynthia Cooper
1998 Houston Comets 2–1 Phoenix Mercury[b] Cynthia Cooper
1999 Houston Comets 2–1 New York Liberty Cynthia Cooper
2000 Houston Comets 2–0 New York Liberty Cynthia Cooper
2001 Los Angeles Sparks 2–0 Charlotte Sting Lisa Leslie
2002 Los Angeles Sparks 2–0 New York Liberty Lisa Leslie
2003 Detroit Shock 2–1 Los Angeles Sparks Ruth Riley
2004 Seattle Storm 2–1 Connecticut Sun Betty Lennox
2005 Sacramento Monarchs 3–1 Connecticut Sun Yolanda Griffith
2006 Detroit Shock 3–2 Sacramento Monarchs Deanna Nolan
2007 Phoenix Mercury 3–2 Detroit Shock Cappie Pondexter
2008 Detroit Shock 3–0 San Antonio Silver Stars Katie Smith
2009 Phoenix Mercury 3–2 Indiana Fever Diana Taurasi
2010 Seattle Storm 3–0 Atlanta Dream Lauren Jackson
2011 Minnesota Lynx 3–0 Atlanta Dream Seimone Augustus
2012 Indiana Fever 3–1 Minnesota Lynx Tamika Catchings
2013 Minnesota Lynx 3–0 Atlanta Dream Maya Moore
2014 Phoenix Mercury 3–0 Chicago Sky Diana Taurasi
2015 Minnesota Lynx 3–2 Indiana Fever Sylvia Fowles
2016 Los Angeles Sparks[c] 3–2 Minnesota Lynx Candace Parker
2017 Minnesota Lynx[d] 3–2 Los Angeles Sparks Sylvia Fowles
2018 Seattle Storm 3–0 Washington Mystics Breanna Stewart
  1. ^ Due to the WNBA's playoff structure in 1997, two Eastern Conference teams met in the championship game
  2. ^ Due to the WNBA's playoff structure in 1998, two Western Conference teams met in the championship series
  3. ^ Due to the WNBA's playoff structure in 2016, two Western Conference teams met in the Finals.
  4. ^ Due to the WNBA's playoff structure in 2017, two Western Conference teams met in the Finals.

Highlights

  • In 2001, the #4 seed Charlotte Sting was the lowest seed to make the WNBA Finals.
  • The 2003 Finals was best known for rekindling a heated rivalry between the two teams' head coaches, Los Angeles Sparks head coach Michael Cooper and former Detroit Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer. Both coaches were fierce NBA competitors who played in the NBA Finals against each other in 1988 and 1989.
  • 2006 marked the first time that a #1 seed did not participate in the WNBA Finals. Detroit and Sacramento were both #2 seeds.
  • The New York Liberty have the most Finals appearances (4) without winning a championship.
  • The Minnesota Lynx are the 6th team to win multiple championships (following Houston, Los Angeles, Detroit, Phoenix and Seattle, respectively).
  • 2006 marked the first time that the team with the best point-differential in the regular-season did not win the WNBA Finals or even advance to the WNBA finals. The Connecticut Sun had the best point differential in '06 but was ousted by the Shock in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • The Detroit Shock hosted the three largest crowds in Finals History (22,076 in Game 3 of 2003 WNBA Finals, 19,671 in Game 5 of 2006 WNBA Finals and 22,076 in Game 5 of the 2007 WNBA Finals)
  • Only three Eastern Conference franchises have won the WNBA Finals: the 1997 Houston Comets (who moved to the Western Conference the following year); the Detroit Shock (who are now in the Western Conference first as Tulsa, now as Dallas) and the Indiana Fever in 2012.
  • The 2007 game-five win by the Phoenix Mercury marked the first time in WNBA history that a team won the Finals while playing on their opponent's home court.
  • In 2008 the San Antonio Silver Stars became the first team in the history of the WNBA Finals to be swept in a five-game series losing to the Detroit Shock.
  • The 2009 Finals series saw around a 60% increase in viewership from the previous season's series.
  • The 2011 WNBA Finals was the first coached by two women.
  • In 2014, the Chicago Sky became the first team to appear in the WNBA Finals with a sub-.500 record.
  • In 2016, the Los Angeles Sparks won by one point despite a later announcement by the WNBA that officials missed an earlier shot-clock violation at 1:14, which should not have counted.[1]

Finals appearances

Statistics below refer to series wins and losses, not individual game wins and losses. Teams in red have folded and can no longer reach the WNBA Finals.

Records

This table shows a list of records through the history of the WNBA Finals.

See also

References

  1. ^ WNBA Ogwunikes' shot should not have counted October 21, 2016

External links

1997 WNBA Championship

The 1997 WNBA Championship was the championship game of the 1997 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Houston Comets, top-seeded team of the league, defeated the New York Liberty, second-seeded team, 65-51 to win the league's inaugural championship.

The Comets' 18–10 record gave them home court advantage over New York (17–11).

For the playoffs, the top four teams overall in the league were seeded one to four. Top seed Houston played the four seed Charlotte and the two seed New York played number three Phoenix.

2000 WNBA Championship

The 2000 WNBA Championship was the championship series of the 2000 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Houston Comets, second-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the New York Liberty, first-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to none in a best-of-three series. This was Houston's fourth title.

The Comets made their fourth appearance in the Finals in franchise history. The Liberty also made their third Finals appearance.

Going into the series, no other team except the Houston Comets had won a WNBA championship (1997–1999).

The Comets had a 27–5 record (.844), good enough to receive home-court advantage over the Liberty (20–12). It did not matter, however, as the Comets swept the Liberty.

2001 WNBA Championship

The 2001 WNBA Championship was the championship series of the 2001 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Charlotte Sting, fourth-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to none in a best-of-three series. This was Los Angeles' first title.

The Sparks made their first appearance in the Finals in franchise history. The Sting also made their first Finals appearance.

Going into the series, no other team except the Houston Comets had ever won a WNBA championship (1997-2000).

The Sparks had a 28–4 record (.875), good enough to receive home-court advantage over the Sting (18–14). It did not matter, however, as the Sparks swept the Sting.

2002 WNBA Finals

The 2002 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2002 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the New York Liberty, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, two games to none in a best-of-three series. This was Los Angeles' second title. As of 2017, this is the last time a WNBA franchise won back to back championships. Coincidentally 2 months before the finals, the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA would win their 14th title by sweeping a New York Metro team, the New Jersey Nets 4-0.

The Liberty made their fourth appearance in the Finals in franchise history. The Sparks made their second straight Finals appearance.

The Sparks went into the series as defending champions. 2002 marked their second WNBA championship. (The Houston Comets hold the record with four championships won.)

The Sparks had a 25–7 record (.781), good enough to receive home-court advantage over the Liberty (18–14).

To date, this is the last time the New York Liberty have reached the WNBA Finals.

2003 WNBA Finals

The 2003 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2003 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Detroit Shock, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, defeated the Los Angeles Sparks, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, two games to one in a best-of-three series. This was Detroit's first title.

The Shock made their first appearance in the Finals in franchise history. The Sparks made their third straight Finals appearance.

Going into the series, the Sparks had won two WNBA championships (2001, 2002). The Houston Comets hold the record with four championships won.

The Shock had a 25-9 record (.735), good enough to receive home-court advantage over the Sparks (24-10).

2005 WNBA Finals

The 2005 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2005 WNBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Sacramento Monarchs, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Connecticut Sun, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, three games to one in a best-of-five series. This was Sacramento's first title.

The Monarchs made their first appearance in the Finals in franchise history. The Sun appeared in the Finals for the second straight time after having lost to Seattle in 2004.

Going into the series, neither team had won a WNBA championship. The Houston Comets hold the record with four championships won.

The Sun's 26-8 record gave them home court advantage over Sacramento (25–9).

2010 WNBA Finals

The 2010 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2010 season of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The champions of the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Dream, faced the champions of the Western Conference, the Seattle Storm.

The WNBA Finals were under a 2–2–1 rotation, with the Storm holding home-court advantage as they had a better regular season record (28–6) than the Dream (19–15). This was the 1st time the teams have met in the championship round. The Dream made their first ever appearance in the Finals while the Storm made their second appearance, after winning the 2004 championship series.

This was the second straight year in which neither team advancing to the Finals had been there the previous season. Seattle had not won a playoff series since their Finals victory in 2004, when they defeated the Connecticut Sun 2–1. Betty Lennox, who played with Atlanta after leaving the Storm (now with L.A.) was named series MVP in 2004. Only two players remain from the championship roster–all-stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson. To advance to the Finals, the Storm defeated Diana Taurasi and the defending champion Phoenix Mercury 2–0 in the Western Conference Finals.

This was the first WNBA Finals appearance for both head coaches. Each coach had been with their respective team since the 2008 season. Seattle's Brian Agler had been involved with the WNBA since 1999, when he was head coach of the Minnesota Lynx. Atlanta's Marynell Meadors was one of the league's original eight head coaches, leading the Charlotte Sting to a 15–13 record in their inaugural season. This was the first ever Finals series to feature the two most recent Coach of the Year award winners; Meadors won the award in 2009 and Agler won in 2010.

This series featured 9 international players (most notably Lauren Jackson) from 6 different backgrounds. Seattle's roster boasted five foreign-born players hailing from Australia, the Czech Republic and Russia. Atlanta had four, representing Belarus, Brazil and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This was a WNBA record for the championship series; eight international players were featured in the 1998 Finals.

The series ended with the Storm beating the Dream in Atlanta in a three-game sweep. This was only the second time in WNBA history that a team won the Finals three games to none (previously done by Detroit in 2008).

2011 WNBA Finals

The 2011 WNBA Finals was the championship series of the 2011 season of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Minnesota Lynx, champions of the Western Conference, swept the champions of the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Dream in three games.

The WNBA Finals was under a 2–2–1 rotation. The Lynx held home-court advantage as they had a better regular season record (27–7) than the Dream (20–14). The 2011 Finals marked the first time the teams met in the championship round. The Lynx made their first ever appearance in the Finals while the Dream were making their second consecutive appearance, after appearing in the 2010 championship series.

Prior to 2011 the Minnesota franchise had not won a playoff series. They had not qualified for the postseason since 2004. Only four players had postseason experience: Rebekkah Brunson, Alexis Hornbuckle, Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Lindsay Whalen. To advance to the Finals, the Lynx defeated Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury 2–0 in the Western Conference Finals. Atlanta won its second straight Eastern Conference championship by defeating the top-seeded Indiana Fever 2–1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

This was the first time in WNBA history that both Finals teams were coached by women. Minnesota's Cheryl Reeve had been involved with the WNBA since 2001; she won championships with the Detroit Shock in 2006 and 2008 as an assistant to Bill Laimbeer. This was the second consecutive Finals series to feature the most recent Coach of the Year; Reeve won the award in 2011 (Seattle's Brian Agler won in 2010). Atlanta's Marynell Meadors, the 2009 Coach of the Year, was one of the league's original eight head coaches, leading the Charlotte Sting to a 15–13 record in their inaugural season.

The 2011 WNBA Finals were the first since 2005 to feature two teams that have not previously won a WNBA championship.

The Lynx won the opening game of the series 88-74, using a 13-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to break open a close game. They then won their second home game 101-95 behind 36 points from Seimone Augustus. Dream forward Angel McCoughtry scored 35 points in Game 1 and 38 in Game 2, matching and surpassing her finals scoring record from 2010.

In Game 3, the Lynx trailed the Dream at halftime again, but shut down the Dream in the third quarter, holding them to eight points and taking a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Dream closed to within one point in the fourth quarter, but never retook the lead; the Lynx won the game 73-67, clinching their first title.

2012 WNBA Finals

The 2012 WNBA Finals was the series for the 2012 season of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Minnesota Lynx, champions of the Western Conference, faced the Indiana Fever, champions of the Eastern Conference. The Fever defeated the Lynx three games to one becoming only the second Eastern Conference franchise to capture a WNBA title.

The WNBA Finals were under a 2–2–1 rotation. The Lynx held home-court advantage as they had a better regular season record (27–7) than the Fever (22–12). The Lynx were defending their 2011 WNBA Championship. The Fever appeared in the 2009 Finals.

2013 WNBA Finals

The 2013 WNBA Finals was the playoff series for the 2013 season of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Minnesota Lynx, champions of the Western Conference, defeated the Atlanta Dream, champions of the Eastern Conference.

The WNBA Finals were under a 2–2–1 rotation. The Lynx held home-court advantage as they had a better regular season record (26-8) than the Dream (17-17). The meeting is a rematch of the 2011 WNBA Finals, in which the Lynx defeated the Dream in three games.

The Lynx won the first game of the series 84-59, and the second 88-63. They finished the sweep with an 86-77 win in Atlanta, becoming the second WNBA team to sweep through the playoffs since the best-of-five finals format was adopted.

2014 WNBA Finals

The 2014 WNBA Finals was the playoff series for the 2014 season of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Phoenix Mercury, champions of the Western Conference, faced the Chicago Sky, champions of the Eastern Conference.

The WNBA Finals were under a 2–2–1 rotation. The Mercury held home-court advantage as they had a better regular season record (29–5) than the Sky (15–19). The Mercury swept the Sky in three games to win their third title in franchise history.

2015 WNBA Finals

The 2015 WNBA Finals was the championship series for the 2015 WNBA season of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). On August 26, vegasinsider.com projected that the Minnesota Lynx has the highest odds to win the series (11/10).The WNBA Finals were under a 2–2–1 rotation. The Lynx held home-court advantage as they had a better regular season record (22–12) than the Fever (20–14).

2016 WNBA Finals

The 2016 WNBA Finals was the best-of-five championship series for the 2016 season of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). The top-seeded Minnesota Lynx held home court advantage in the Finals, but lost three games to two to the second-seeded Los Angeles Sparks. The series followed a 2–2–1 format, and eschewed from the previous tradition of having the Western Conference champion face the Eastern Conference champion. Instead, in the 2016 season, the top eight teams qualified for the playoffs, regardless of conference. Both WNBA Finals teams were from the Western Conference. The Sparks won a semifinal series against the Chicago Sky to determine one of the Finals berths; the first-seeded Lynx defeated the Phoenix Mercury to earn the other. Candace Parker was named the 2016 WNBA Finals MVP. Renee Brown, outgoing Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations of the WNBA, issued statements following games 4 and 5 saying the referees had made an error in each game. Nevertheless, the Sparks won the series 3 games to 2.

2017 WNBA Finals

The 2017 WNBA Finals was the best-of-five championship series for the 2017 season of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), tipping off on September 24. It was a rematch of last year's finals matchup. The top-seeded Minnesota Lynx held home court advantage in the Finals, and won three games to two against the second-seeded Los Angeles Sparks. The Sparks won a semifinal series against the Phoenix Mercury to determine one of the Finals berths; the first-seeded Lynx defeated the Washington Mystics to earn the other. Sylvia Fowles was named the 2017 WNBA Finals MVP.

2018 WNBA Finals

The 2018 WNBA Finals was the best-of-five championship series for the 2018 season of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). It featured the top-seeded Seattle Storm and the three-seeded Washington Mystics. The series began on September 7, 2018 and ended on September 12, 2018. After winning the first two games at home, the Storm went on the road and completed the 3-0 series sweep. It was the franchise's first title in eight years and third overall.

List of WNBA Finals broadcasters

The following is a list of the television networks and announcers that have broadcast the WNBA Finals.

WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award

The Women's National Basketball Association Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) is an annual Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) award given since the league's inaugural season.

During the first four years of the league's existence, the Houston Comets reigned. With each Comets championship, Cynthia Cooper was named Finals MVP. As the team's leading scorer, Cooper, along with Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes, led Houston to four consecutive WNBA championships.

In 2001, the Comets' dynasty ended by the hands of the Los Angeles Sparks. The Sparks won back-to-back, and dominant center Lisa Leslie was crowned as the Finals MVP both years.

As of the 2017 finals only one non-American player, Lauren Jackson of Australia, has won a WNBA Finals MVP.

From 2003 to the present, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles are the only players to win multiple Finals MVP awards. This is mainly because no team has won back-to-back championships. While some teams have won multiple championship since the dynasty years of the Comets and the Sparks, the match-up usually resulted in different MVPs. An example of this is the Detroit Shock. Despite winning three titles within a six-year span, three different players – Ruth Riley, Deanna Nolan, and Katie Smith – won the Finals MVP award.

WNBA on ESPN

The WNBA on ESPN refers to the presentation of Women's National Basketball Association games on the ESPN family of networks. Under the title of WNBA Tuesday, games are broadcast throughout the WNBA season on Tuesday nights on ESPN2.

In June 2003, the WNBA signed a new six-year agreement with ABC Sports and ESPN to televise regular-season games and playoff games from 2003 through 2008. It was also announced that ESPN2 would televise a half-hour pre-game show before each broadcast.

In June 2007, the WNBA signed another contract extension with ESPN. The new television deal runs from 2009 to 2016. A minimum of 18 games will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 each season. Additionally, a minimum of 11 postseason games will be broadcast on any of the three stations.Along with this deal came the first ever rights fees to be paid to a women's professional sports league. WNBA president Donna Orender and John Skipper, ESPN vice president for content, gave no exact figure but said it was worth "millions and millions of dollars".Beginning with the 2009 WNBA season, all nationally broadcast WNBA games are shown in high definition.

On March 28, 2013, ESPN and the WNBA announced they had extended their agreement through 2022. Under the agreement, there will be up to 30 games a year televised on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 each season, including the Finals. Although the financial terms of the deal were not stated by ESPN or the WNBA, Sports Business Daily reported that sources said the deal was worth $12 million a year. In 2014 ESPN and the WNBA renegotiated the television rights deal to $25 million per year.

WNBA playoffs

The WNBA Playoffs is an elimination tournament between 8 teams in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), ultimately deciding the final two teams who will play in the WNBA Finals. Since 2016, Verizon is the official sponsor.

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