LeBron James is watching the WNBA, just like the rest of us

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: LeBron James
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: LeBron James /

After concluding one of the finest seasons of his brilliant career, LeBron James has summer plans like the rest of us: to watch the 144 elite women of the WNBA play hoops.

James could be forgiven if he needed some respite from basketball after a long season, but the allure of the WNBA’s 21st season cut through his answer at a postgame news conference following Game 5 of the NBA Finals, even as he expressed his fatigue and need for some distance from his professional life.

“So we will see, but I will get away from the game a little bit, probably watch some WNBA games, though,” James told assembled reporters. “Can’t get away from it. I’ll probably watch—my son’s tournament is this summer, so I’ll be a part of the game. But as far as me actually playing, I won’t. I won’t be a part of the game much this summer.”

For his part, NBA champion Kevin Durant is a longtime fan of the WNBA as well. It’s always a pleasure to speak with Durant about the league, not just because of his admiration for it, but the specificity of why he prefers certain players. He’s no casual observer.

As Durant told me back in February of Breanna Stewart’s senior season, “For a girl that tall, she can do a lot with the basketball. She’s very skilled. She can shoot, she can pass, she can rebound, she can run, she can jump. So there’s something that I haven’t seen—in the women’s game or otherwise—in a long time. So I’m a big fan, a huge fan.”

For a pair of leagues under the same corporate umbrella, the seamless continuity between them hasn’t always been readily apparent. But the attention goes both ways, whether it is the brother-sister combo of JaVale McGee and Imani Boyette…

…or the wry observations of basketball analyst Kelsey Plum.

It’s not as if fans of the WNBA needed reinforcement to justify love for the league. But it is refreshing to hear the upcoming campaign be so top of mind for the NBA’s best, even in the immediate wake of their own season’s end.