History in the Making

The Formation of the WNBA

Next season, the WNBA will enter its tenth season. In celebration of this big anniversary, the league is planning a number of things that will be unveiled in a few months. But in the meantime, here is a look back at how things developed and the best women's professional basketball league in the world came to be.

April 24, 1996 The NBA Board of Governors approves the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) concept.
June 27, 1996NBC Sports is announced as the WNBA's first national broadcaster.
July 16, 1996ESPN and Lifetime Television join NBC as WNBA broadcasters.
August 7, 1996Val Ackerman is named WNBA President.
October 23, 1996Rebecca Lobo and Sheryl Swoopes become the first players to sign to play in the WNBA. They are soon followed by Olympic teammates Lisa Leslie and Ruthie Bolton-Holifield.
October30, 1996 Eight cities are selected as the WNBA's charter teams: Charlotte, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Sacramento and Utah.
January 22, 1997The league's first 16 players are assigned to their teams. They own 11 Olympic gold medals and nine NCAA championships. All 16 have been members of All-America teams.
February 27, 1997The WNBA holds its Elite Draft for 16 signed veteran players. Dena Head is the first selection.
April 19 - 22, 1997The first-ever WNBA WNBA Pre-Draft Camp is held in Orlando, Fla., with more than 60 participants battling for spots on WNBA rosters.
April 28, 1997The WNBA holds its draft for college players and unsigned veterans. Tina Thompson of USC is the first pick
May 21, 1997The eights WNBA uniforms are unveiled at Madison Square Garden. In conjunction with General Motors and Champion, the WNBA also announces a joint effort to raise funds and awareness for the National Association of Breast Cancer Organizations.
May 22, 1997The finals two active roster spots and four developmental players on each team are allocated. By season's tipoff, the four developmental players will be down to two.
May 28, 1997 Individual team training camps open.
June 10, 1997Preseason exhibition games begin with Charlotte facing Houston at Rice University and Cleveland taking on New York at the University of Connecticut.
June 21, 1997The inaugural WNBA season begins.


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