Changing Of The Guard | WNBA Celebrates Title IX Success, Iconic All-Star Game Starters, Honors Brittney Griner

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

This week, the sports world commemorated and celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX, one of the most significant pieces of civil rights legislation in American history as it pertains to opportunities for women and girls in sports.

The WNBA, the league that has most benefited from Title IX and is an example of the possibilities that the legislation created for equality in sports, announced the starters for AT&T WNBA All-Star 2022, revealing them on ESPN’s “NBA Today.”

Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, a four-time WNBA champion and the league’s career assists leader, has extended her record number of All-Star selections to 13. 

Bird, along with a trio of former Kia WNBA Most Valuable Players — Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles, Las Vegas Aces’ forward A’ja Wilson, and Seattle forward Breanna Stewart — highlight the list of 10 players, including four guards and six frontcourt players from across the WNBA, who were selected by fans, current WNBA players and media to start in the game. 

The WNBA All-Star Game will be played at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, home of the defending WNBA Champion Chicago Sky, on Sunday, July 10 (ABC, noon CT/1 p.m. ET), and will be the centerpiece of a weekend full of WNBA activities.

Wilson and Stewart, by virtue of being the two All-Star starters who finished with the most fan votes, will serve as official team co-captains. They will be joined as co-captains by Fowles and Bird, who both have announced their retirement upon conclusion of the 2022 season after legendary careers spanning almost two decades. 

 AT&T WNBA All-Star 2022 Starter Pool

Two WNBA Legends will be playing in their final WNBA All-Star Game, so the activities and atmosphere will be festive and reflective. 

  • Sue Bird, Storm (13th All-Star selection): The legendary NYC guard via Syosset Long Island announced that she will retire following the 2022 WNBA season. Bird has been selected to more WNBA All-Star Games than any player in league history. Only Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi, each of whom was selected 10 times, have earned double-digit selections. Bird is the league’s career leader in assists (3,122) and games played (561). She’s represented the women’s game as an elite ambassador all around the world. She’s the epitome of what Title IX has made possible. 

 

  • Sylvia Fowles, Lynx (8th All-Star selection): The WNBA’s career leader in total rebounds (3,835), defensive rebounds (2,743), and field goal percentage (.598), Fowles has also announced that 2022 will be her final season. The 2017 WNBA MVP and two-time Finals MVP is averaging 16.5 points per game and a league-leading 10.3 rebounds per game. The 36-year-old post player is still balling like she’s fresh out of LSU. 
 “For icons like Sylvia and Sue to be voted into the AT&T WNBA All-Star Game as starters in their 15th and 19th seasons, respectively, is extraordinary,” said WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “And when you see the starting lineups dotted with first-time All-Stars like Sabrina Ionescu, Kelsey Plum, and Jackie Young, it just seems right that Sylvia and Sue – who have said this will be their final season – join A’ja and Breanna as co-captains for an All-Star event that will in some ways symbolize the passing of the torch to a new generation of WNBA stars.”
  • Sabrina Ionescu, Liberty (1st All-Star selection): Ionescu, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2020 WNBA draft makes her All-Star debut. Ionescu leads the Liberty in scoring and assists with career-best figures of 16.7 ppg and 6.1 apg.  On June 12, Ionescu became the youngest player in WNBA history to record multiple triple-doubles in a career.

 

  • Jonquel Jones, Sun (4th All-Star selection): The reigning WNBA MVP and winner of the 2018 Kia WNBA Sixth Player of the Year and 2017 WNBA Most Improved Player award, Jones will play in the All-Star Game for the fourth time. Jones is pacing the Sun with 15.1 points per game and ranks third in the league with 9.4 rebounds per game.

 

  • Nneka Ogwumike, Sparks (7th All-Star selection): Ogwumike, the 2016 WNBA MVP and champion, also is a three-time winner of the WNBA’s Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award. Ogwumike leads the Sparks in scoring (18.1 points per game) and rebounding (7.7 rebounds per game).

 

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  • Candace Parker, Sky (7th All-Star selection): A two-time WNBA MVP and two-time WNBA champion, Parker is the only player in WNBA history to win MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season (2008). Some consider The MVP of the 2013 WNBA All-Star Game the GOAT. Parker, also a popular NBA analyst, is averaging 12.7 points per game and 8.1 rebounds and will play in front of her hometown Chicago crowd.

 

  • Kelsey Plum, Aces (1st All-Star selection): Plum, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2017 WNBA draft and the WNBA Sixth Player of the Year in 2021, makes her All-Star debut. It’s probably long overdue. Her career-high and team-leading 20.3 points per game have helped the Aces generate the league’s No. 1 scoring offense (91.5).

 

  • Breanna Stewart, Storm (4th All-Star selection): One of the greatest players to ever do it, “Stewie” is the 2018 WNBA MVP, a two-time WNBA Finals MVP and a three-time league champion. She’s leading the WNBA in scoring with a career-high-tying 21.8 points per game and contributing 7.6 rebounds per game. 

 

  • Aja Wilson, Aces (4th All-Star selection): The 2020 WNBA MVP and 2018 WNBA Rookie of the Year is playing in her fourth consecutive WNBA All-Star Game. She previously served as an All-Star captain when Team Wilson defeated Team Delle Donne in the 2019 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game. Wilson, probably the most skilled post player in the league, is averaging 18.4 points per game and ranks second in the league at 9.6 rebounds per game.

 

  • Jackie Young, Aces (1st All-Star selection): The first overall pick in the 2019 WNBA draft, Young is one of eight No. 1 overall picks selected as starters, along with Bird (2002), Parker (2008), Ogwumike (2012), Stewart (2016), Plum (2017), Wilson (2018), and Ionescu (2020). Young is averaging a career-best 18.2 points per game and contributing 4.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. 

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In addition, Engelbert named Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, who was selected to seven prior WNBA All-Star Games, an honorary All-Star and starter.

“During each season of Brittney’s career in which there has been an All-Star Game, she has been selected as an All-Star,” said Engelbert. “It is not difficult to imagine that if BG were here with us this season, she would once again be selected and would, no doubt, show off her incredible talents. So, it is only fitting that she be named as an honorary starter today and we continue to work on her safe return to the U.S.” 

Voting has begun for the 12 reserves for AT&T WNBA All-Star 2022, which will be selected by the league’s head coaches, and will be announced on Tuesday, June 28. The co-captains will select their respective All-Star rosters during ESPN’s broadcast of the “WNBA All-Star Team Selection Special” on Saturday, July 2 (3 p.m. ET), choosing first from the remaining pool of eight starters and then from the pool of 12 reserves.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.