There were also some logistics to address. With so much excitement for women’s basketball, an obvious question is when the 12-team WNBA will expand. The Bay Area is getting a team for the 2025 season, and commissioner Cathy Engelbert specifically shouted out Philadelphia, Toronto, Portland, Nashville, and South Florida as places the league has its eyes on, with 16 teams as its near-term goal. There’s definitely enough talent to fill the pool. “I want to step back and say how blessed I feel to be in women’s basketball,” Engelbert said. “It’s not just this class, it’s next year, and the year after. JuJu Watkins, Hannah Hidalgo, Kiki Rice, Paige Bueckers. The list goes on. We’ll have a long run of household names and rivalries in this league.”

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While the league is looking forward, it’s worth remembering that it’s been around long enough to have history, too. This crop of draftees—each of the first 22 picks were born in the 2000s—do not remember a time without the WNBA. Whereas ‘80s babies like Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, who carried the WNBA torch for so long, grew up not knowing if they’d be able to play professionally in the States, the new kids on the block have always been able to dream about draft day. And when it finally arrived, they turned it into a sold-out fashion show in an opulent theater. The W is in good hands, even if the rookies, like anyone their age, have some learning to do. “Obviously, there’s still so much work to do,” Brink said. “But I’m just happy to be here talking to you. It’s nerve wracking, I’m not going to lie. But it’s a good challenge for us. We’re becoming young adults. New steps into a new world!”

The quote of the night, though, went to Engelbert. In six simple words, she summed up what an event like this means for the sport, for women, and for anyone who’s been screaming it for years: “Women’s basketball is not a fad.”

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