WNBA Unveils 2012 Game Schedule as part of WNBA Tip-Off presented by Boost Mobile
Minnesota Begins Quest for Second Consecutive Championship May 20 on ABC
Game Schedule Will Break in Late July/Early August for 2012 Olympics in London
NEW YORK, Jan. 19, 2012 The WNBA will tip off its 16th season as part of Boost Mobile WNBA Tip-Off 2012 on Friday, May 18, when two of the league's top stars square off as Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks visit Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm. The defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, led by 2011 Rookie of the Year Maya Moore and Finals MVP Seimone Augustus, begins its title defense when scoring champion Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury visit on Sunday, May 20, in a nationally televised game on ABC.
Showcasing the leagues most talented players and competitive rivalries, combined coverage of the WNBA regular season, Playoffs, and Finals on ABC, ESPN2 and NBA TV, the leagues 24-hour television network, will feature over 80 contests.
ESPN2 will air 11 regular-season games nationally throughout the season and cap the season with an expanded number of telecasts during the WNBA Playoffs presented by Boost Mobile. All games will be available in high definition and telecasts on ESPN and ESPN2 will be simulcast on ESPN3.
The 2012 WNBA season marks the fourth year of the leagues eight-year deal that allows ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 to televise games through 2016. The agreement provides the WNBA a rights fee, a first in U.S. womens professional sports league history, and will extend the leagues relationship with ESPN, which commenced in 1997, to 20 years.
NBA TV will broadcast more than 40 games throughout the regular season and provide additional post-season coverage. The networks popular GameTime will air after select games complementing the broadcast and providing highlights of the action. The NBA TV schedule will be announced at a later date.
As the WNBA heads into its 16th regular season, it will build on the positive momentum that saw a fifth consecutive year of league-wide attendance growth, the highest ESPN2 viewership since 2005, increased viewership during the WNBA Finals, and the 2011 signing of a landmark multiyear deal with Boost Mobile as the first league-wide marquee partner.
With as many as 20 WNBA players likely to represent their respective countries in a quest for the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London (July 27-Aug. 12), the league has not scheduled any games between July 14-Aug. 15. Similar to the 2004 and 2008 seasons that also saw a break in the schedule for the Olympics, WNBA teams and players will remain active in their local communities during the hiatus. Players not competing in the Olympics will participate in a variety of community-based events and activities designed to give fans a unique opportunity to interact with their favorite WNBA teams.
Following the 2012 Summer Olympics, in which the United States looks to earn its fifth consecutive gold medal in womens basketball, the WNBA will tip off the second half of its season on Thursday, Aug. 16. The regular season schedule concludes on Saturday, Sept. 23, with the WNBA Playoffs presented by Boost Mobile scheduled to begin on Thursday, Sept. 27.
Other key television match-ups during the 2012 WNBA regular season will put MVPs and All-Stars front and center:
Parker, the WNBAs MVP and Rookie of the Year in 2008, will lead the Sparks (owners of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft), into Phoenix to face Taurasi, the 2009 MVP, and the Mercury Saturday, June 23 (ESPN2, 8:00 p.m. ET)
A pair of star-laden teams will square off Tuesday, Aug. 21, when the Lynx, who return four All-Stars from last season (Moore, Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, and Rebekkah Brunson), visit Lauren Jackson, Bird and the Storm. (ESPN2, 10:00 p.m. ET)
The defending Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Dream and All-Star Angel McCoughtry, the leagues second-leading scorer last season, will look to exact a measure of revenge against the defending champion Lynx when Atlanta hosts Minnesota Saturday, Aug., 25 (ESPN2, 7:00 p.m. ET)
The last three league MVPs will be featured when the playoff races heat up in the closing weeks of the season. Jackson (the 2008 MVP) and the Storm travel to Indiana to face the Fever and reigning MVP Tamika Catchings Wednesday, Sep. 12 (ESPN2, 7:00 p.m. ET). Seattle then pays a visit to Taurasi (2009) and the Phoenix Mercury Saturday, Sep. 23, the final day of the regular season (ESPN2, 3:00 p.m. ET)
The 2012 WNBA regular season runs from Friday, May 18, to Sunday, September 23. The regular season and game telecast schedules follow.