With the Olympics set for next month, the WNBA All Star Game is a bit different this year. In 2018 and 2019, team captains would pick from the list of All Stars and form their squads. Most years, the WNBA would use the traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format, with All Star games occasionally being skipped due to Olympic obligations for the players. This year, the All Star Game is in Las Vegas, with a twist.
On one side, it will be the United States Women’s National Team. The star studded team heads into the Tokyo Olympics the favorites to win the gold medal, which would be their SEVENTH in a row. University of South Carolina Head Coach, Basketball Hall of Famer, and former Charlotte Sting legend Dawn Staley will be leading the team from the sidelines. The team is led by Seattle’s Breanna Stewart, Phoenix’s Brittney Griner, and the team stalwarts, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. Team USA also features former New York Liberty legend Tina Charles.
On the other side will be Team WNBA. Led by Basketball Hall of Famers Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson, team W is composed of the best players that aren’t on the US Olympic team. Led by Liz Cambage and Candace Parker, the WNBA team is a mix of veterans and future All Stars that will lead the WNBA into the next generation. The WNBA side features seven first time All Stars, headlined by Arike Ogunbowale of the Dallas Wings.
One of the first time All Stars will be Betnijah Laney of the Liberty! Following on her Most Improved Player win in 2020, the 27-year-old combo guard has gotten even better and has been the Liberty’s best player as they’ve exceeded expectations and hung tough despite injuries affecting two of their best players.
Laney spoke with WNBA Weekly about the selection...
Laney is having the best season of her pro career. She’s averaging a career high 19.7 points and 5.3 assists a night on 50 percent shooting from the field. With Natasha Howard out with a sprained MCL and Sabrina Ionescu nursing a balky ankle, Laney has taken on more scoring and play-making responsibilities and has established herself as one of the league’s brightest stars. More importantly, the Rutgers product has given New York a great chance to make their first playoff appearance since 2017.
From head coach Walt Hopkins:
“We couldn’t be more excited to hear that Betnijah has been selected to join her first WNBA All-Star team. In only a few short months in New York—by way of her tireless work ethic, selfless leadership, and indomitable will to improve and to do whatever the team needs in order to win—B has already made an indelible mark on our organization. You’d be hard pressed to find a player more deserving of this honor, and we’re certain that this is only the first of many such accomplishments to come.”
Joe Tsai tweeted his congratulations Thursday...
The game will take place in Las Vegas on July 14th and will be broadcast on ESPN.