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A Historic Slam Dunk This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


Lisa Leslie made history in 2002 when she scored the first dunk in a WNBA game. I remember watching the replay nearly 10 years later. Leslie sprinted down the court after catching a pass, soared up to the rim and slammed the ball through the net. When I saw that, I felt the same joy and pride that I saw on her face. As her feet landed on the ground, I knew I was watching a legend.

Based on the popularity of women’s basketball in the Olympics, the idea of a U.S. professional women’s basketball league began to grow. In 1996 the NBA Board of Governors approved the idea of a Women’s National Basketball Association.

In 1997, the first ever WNBA game was played – New York Liberty against the Los ­Angeles Sparks. WNBA president Val Ackerman threw up the legendary first tip at the game for L.A.’s Lisa Leslie and New York’s Kym Hampton. All eyes were on the ball as it soared into the air. As soon as it descended into arm’s reach, both players were on the scene, eager to win the first WNBA ball possession. The first basket in a WNBA game was scored by Penny Toler of the Los Angeles Sparks. Just days after that first game, the Utah Starzz was the first women’s team to score more than 100 points in a game. However, it took many years for other records and milestones in WNBA history to be made; it was nearly five years later when Lisa Leslie made that first WNBA dunk.

The WNBA and NBA are often compared to each other. Many WNBA teams are based in the same cities as NBA teams, and they wear similarly colored uniforms, so fans often pair them together. If an NBA team starts losing money, it is common for a city to stop endorsing its sister WNBA team. Unfortunately, if an NBA team goes down, it often brings the WNBA team with it.

Based on merchandise and ticket sales, the WNBA has about 25 million fans, and basketball is one of the most popular women’s sports. Sadly, it is slowly growing less popular over the years, though fans’ attention remains focused on the NBA.

More than just a group of sports teams, the WNBA supports many charities. For example, “Read to Achieve” is a program that stresses the importance of reading and online literacy. The initiative donates more than 20,000 books through book fairs and reading events each year and has created reading and learning centers. Breast cancer awareness is also a crucial issue for the WNBA. The Breast Health Awareness program intends to teach the public about the importance of early detection and to educate and screen women all over the country.

The WNBA may be just another sports franchise for some, but for me and many others, it’s an inspiration. The players show every game that they have the same skills and ability as men and that a sports career for girls is possible if you put in the effort and believe that you can do it. Former New York Liberty player Sue Wicks states, “There’s a lot of room to grow, and the women who believe they’re worth it are the ones who are going to make good things happen during the next period of WNBA growth.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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tsha said...
Oct. 30, 2013 at 7:07 pm:
I really love this article and the way it depicts the WNBA, I can't believe a child wrote this! They"re going to grow up to do great things.:)
 
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