Two WNBA stars are founding a new offseason winter league to give players an alternative to playing overseas.
New York Liberty star Breanna Stewart, 28, and Minnesota Lynx star Napheesa Collier, 26, are founding their league called Unrivaled this winter. The season will run from January through March in Miami, Florida and will be different than the normal format.
Unrivaled Will Change The Offseason For WNBA Players
The new league is not meant to compete with the WNBA, but rather give players another option to play in the United States during the offseason. It will consist of 30 of the top women’s players competing in three-on-three and one-on-one games.
Stewart told ESPN, “It’s the ability for players to stay home. To be in a market like Miami where we can just be the buzz and create that with the best WNBA players. We can’t keep fighting [the WNBA’s prioritization rule]. It is a rule that takes away our choices, which should never be a thing, especially as women, but it’s still a rule.”
Her statement went on to say that the players have all been talking and realized they are “missing a moment.” She said she thinks top players want to be playing during the offseason.
Collier explained how her own personal experience of playing overseas impacted her decision to help create this new league.
“I think it just really opened my eyes even more to the problem that we have going overseas,” she said. “It’s really hard to be away from family for so long, but unfortunately, it’s like really the only option we have if we wanna make money in the offseason, we want to continue to grow our game, and it just leaves a huge hole marketing wise, so we just saw a lot of issues that we wanted to try to find a solution for.”
Collier also talked about choosing a non-traditional route for this league with three-on-three and one-on-one formats.
“Three-on-three is just so fun. It’s really fast pace, and it’s still gonna be a full court but it’s about two-thirds the size of a regular court,” she explained. “So, you still get that up and down, but I think it’s gonna be really fun to watch and then you also see, like we said the premise is the 30 best players in the league, so you get to see them playing more offense, doing what they do best and why they became the best that they are so I think it’s just gonna be highly entertaining.”
Choosing teams will be something different with this league. It will be more like a pickup game with team captains who will choose their team like a draft.
“That’s kind of the vibe that we wanted,” she said. “In men’s sports especially, you see them playing one-on-one all the time, you see in the offseason the men have, it’s like another season. They’re playing pickup in the gym, they’re playing one-on-one and that’s broadcasted everywhere, so we kind of wanted to bring that to the women’s side because we have talented players too and want to showcase what we have.”
Collier said the feedback has been great on this new league idea. Being able to stay home while making money and building your brand is appealing to WNBA players.
“Everyone that we’ve talked to has been so positive and just really fired up about it,” Collier added.
Unrivaled Is Something That’s Never Been Done Before
Collier said the name Unrivaled was chosen for the league because this is something that’s never been done before. And she also explained that the league is not competing with the WNBA and would actually like to partner with them.
“It’s Unrivaled, there’s been nothing like this done and there’s no competition in our opinion. Not that we’re going against the WNBA or anything,” she continued. “We are actually looking to have a partnership with them. We’ve had many conversations with them so it’s not in that sense, but it’s something new we’re bringing to the table and so the title fit.”
The Lynx star said that this league will help players grow the brand and the WNBA, “because as the player grows, the team grows” by showcasing the players and putting them in the spotlight in the media.
Unrivaled has a new Twitter page so fans can keep up with what’s going on with this new league.
— Unrivaled (@Unrivaledwbb) July 6, 2023
A follow up tweet answered that question…