State of the game with Rebecca Lobo, broadcaster for WNBA Finals

An interview with the women’s basketball legend

We had a chance to sit down with Rebecca Lobo on the state of the WNBA in 2019 last month. Lobo will be part of ESPN’s broadcast team for the WNBA Finals, which begin on Sunday afternoon.

A season full of surprises

No one expected what we saw in the WNBA this season, not even Lobo.

“I don’t know if people knew exactly what the expectations were going to be because of the roster of teams and the uncertainty. So one of the things that surprised me is how well Seattle has been able to handle not only the loss of Stewie and Sue Bird, but throughout the course of the season, you know, Jordin Canada missing games, Jewell Loyd missing games and the emergence of Natasha Howard as a superstar. I think that’s one of the things, but, you know, it’s been an interesting season to watch and to see all these teams find their identity… Chicago, I think has been a bit of a surprise and how much success we’ve seen from them. Atlanta has been a surprise we thought they would have more wins at this point. But it’s kind of how it is every year in the WNBA.

Favorite teams to watch

Though she enjoys watching every team in the league, there are individual and team styles that stand out in her mind.

“You know, there are certain players that I really enjoyed. Elena Delle Donne being one of them, actually, Washington’s probably one of the teams that I’ve really enjoyed watching this year. Just because they’re so potent on the offensive end, and then sometimes people step up that you don’t necessarily expect in their last game against Seattle. You know, the backcourt played great, even though Kristi Toliver wasn’t out there. But I like the way Connecticut plays, I like how Seattle plays, teams that get up and down the floor better, a little bit less bruising in their style and have a little bit more open play. But, you know, I enjoy watching every team in this league.”

CBA negotiations

Lobo is optimistic about the ongoing CBA discussions, “The biggest thing when it comes to the upcoming CBA is I think everybody hopes that the players get what is fair. I just don’t think anybody on the outside knows what that means. What is fair? What can the league afford? Can they afford charter flights in certain circumstances? What percentage increase in salary can the league afford? Those of us on the outside don’t know. But hopefully, the Players Association will learn those things, that the league will share those things, and a really fair agreement can come and the players can get things that make playing the WNBA the experience that they ultimately want it to be.”

What she would change if she could

Though she is no longer playing, Lobo’s experiences impact how she views the game, specifically the scheduling, from the outside.

“I hope that there is never a situation like we saw last year where they had the amount of games they had in this short amount of time. There were way too many games, you know, in that short period of time. And I think that’s the biggest thing from watching it on the outside. And, you know, having lived it years and years ago, I hope that we never see that again, because that just takes too much of a toll of the players’ bodies.”

How the league has grown since its inception

Lobo wishes that she could tell her younger self, “You’re not gonna believe what this thing’s going to turn into.”

She added, “In the early years, I couldn’t have imagined a franchise in Connecticut because in the first few years of the WNBA it was only teams that were owned by NBA franchises. But I finished my career here so even in a quick seven-year span the league changed in that regard. You know, I certainly would not have thought that in 2019 my second child just turned 13 last week and all she wanted for her birthday was a Napheesa Collier jersey. I mean, not only that, my kid would grow up with the existence of the WNBA, but would want a player’s jersey and be able to get one. The league, it’s been around 23 years, but the impact it’s made on society in general and the sports culture has been enormous.”

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