Dishin & Swishin 6/11/15 Podcast: Laurel Richie presides over #SummerHoops as the WNBA season kicks off

WNBA president Laurel Richie and Jewell Loyd. Photo: Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images.
WNBA president Laurel Richie and Jewell Loyd. Photo: Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images.

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Laurel J. Richie became the president of the WNBA on On April 11, 2011 succeeding Donna Orender in that position. Orender came from a strong basketball background, Richie has a strong business background. The goal in hiring Richie was to meld the two worlds, and make a niche sport into a strong, vibrant league with security.

Fast forward to today. The game has improved, the players are stronger, faster, and more skilled, and an influx of youthful stars has made the on the court game better than ever. As Richie begins her fifth season as president, though, she has faced unprecedented challenges off the court.

Last year it was the sudden demise and rebirth of the important Los Angeles Sparks franchise. This year, the arrests of Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson in a domestic squabble, and the bizarre naming of Isiah Thomas, named in sexual harassment actions previously, as president of the New York Liberty, followed by the attempt by James Dolan to make Thomas part owner of the WNBA franchise.

Richie thus far has proven to be adept at addressing the challenges. The Sparks look strong with Magic Johnson as part owner, while some players do not like the seven game suspensions given to Griner and Johnson, Richie is satisfied and confident the matter was handled correctly, and a committee of other league owners is currently vetting Thomas’ application for ownership.

In the meantime, corporate investment is high: Boost Mobile became the WNBA’s first league-wide marquee partner in 2011, ESPN has signed on for continued coverage, and several teams have shown profitability or are very close to being profitable.

The upcoming weekend features a doubleheader on ESPN 2 that showcases the league champions from the past three season.

There will always be challenges, especially in the eyes of the hardcore fans, such as players sitting out seasons or demanding trades or problems with But, the league continues to admit their flaws, address them, and move forward to the next day and the next season.

It is a pleasure to have president Richie on Dishin & Swishin this week, as we start a new season of #SummerHoops, the marketing slogan that has been successful in identifying the league. Some of the topics covered on this week’s podcast include:

  • The current state of the game on the court and the marketing of it off the court
  • Parity early in the season, how the predictions are already wrong on some teams
  • Changes and improvements she has seen in the last few years, and what she likes about the game in particular personally
  • The prospects for expansion
  • Profitability, the effect of players sitting out on profitability, the choices of players to play overseas or stay home in the off-season
  • Thoughts on early entrants to the draft, like Jewell Loyd and Amanda Zahui B. did this year
  • Handling the Griner-Johnson matter, in light of players and the union now raising some questions about the suspensions
  • The Isiah Thomas matter, including the creation of the committee, its makeup, and any involvement of Adam Silver, NBA commissioner
  • The remodeling of the WNBA website, its pros and cons, and its completion
  • Raising the banner in Phoenix, and the special awarding of a championship ring to Mercury honorary coach Mia McPoland

Enjoy the podcast!

Upcoming schedule

June Game Time (EST) Local TV National TV Streaming
Thu 11 Phoenix New York  7:00pm MSG LiveAccess
Chicago Connecticut  7:00pm LiveAccess
San Antonio Atlanta  7:00pm FOX Sports South LiveAccess
Seattle Minnesota  8:00pm FS North LiveAccess
Fri 12 Atlanta Washington  7:00pm Monumental, LiveAccess
Phoenix Indiana  7:00pm FSI, FSAZ LiveAccess
Sun 14 Chicago Indiana  1:00pm ESPN 2
Minnesota Phoenix  3:00pm ESPN 2
Atlanta Connecticut  3:00pm ESPN 3
Tulsa San Antonio  4:30pm ESPN 3
Seattle Los Angeles  5:00pm TWC SN / TWC D LiveAccess
Washington New York  6:00pm MSG LiveAccess
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