President Richie Comes to Indy

By Greg Rappaport | June 12, 2014

There was no shortage of excitement on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Between a special congratulatory ceremony for Fever head coach Lin Dunn’s induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame; a Diversity Night, which celebrated the league’s LGBT fans; and of course, a game between the Indiana Fever and Seattle Storm, it’s of little wonder WNBA President Laurel Richie showed up for the festivities.

Richie made herself available to the media and the community. She spoke at the Indianapolis Urban League Luncheon on Tuesday and visited with the Fever and Pacers’ marketing staffs on Wednesday morning. She even participated in a “Chalk Talk” question-and-answer session with Fever broadcaster Chris Denari in front of season ticket holders prior to Wednesday’s game. Richie spoke proudly about the health of the WNBA, while also congratulating Dunn on her Hall of Fame induction.

“I think she is a terrific example of all that is really good about the WNBA,” Richie said. “She has lived the history of this game, and I think that’s incredibly valuable for young players coming in to realize the history, and realize what it was like in the beginning, in contrast to right now.”

The game itself was a back-and-forth affair, showcasing exactly what Richie believes is one of the attributes serving to strengthen the league: young talent.

“27 rookies made rosters this year and seven rookies were in the starting lineup. We just haven’t seen that level of ability in a rookie class,” Richie explained. “And we still have these wonderful veterans like the two we’re gonna see tonight,” she said, alluding to the Fever’s Tamika Catchings and the Storm’s Sue Bird.

When Richie speaks about the WNBA, she describes it as a league on the rise, powered by new partnerships, exceptional on-court talent, and of course, “a robust and diverse fan base.”

That fan base was acknowledged with Diversity Night, an evening that celebrated inclusion for all. The Fever partnered with Indy Pride and Indiana Equality Action, two groups that campaign for LGBT rights, to help make the event a success.

“I think it is very symbolic of who we are as a league,” Richie told reporters before the game, “One of our core values is supporting diversity and inclusion, and [Diversity Night] is an example of that.”

When the game came to an end, a 76-68 victory for the Indiana, Dunn and Fever guard Layshia Clarendon participated in a panel discussion about equality andPr LGBT rights.

“I’m extremely grateful for the role that she has played as an ambassador of the WNBA and of women’s basketball in general,” Richie said of Dunn. “There’s just no one like Lin.”

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