It's the creativity of the whirling dervish that is Lindsay Whalen driving through the lane. Or the way Taurasi manages to exude a mix of grace and cockiness in an act as simple as dribbling the ball up court.
It's Helen Darling's giving birth to triplets and returning to the court the next season to play for less money than it probably takes to keep those kids in diapers. And it's Dawn Staley's annually coaching Temple to the NCAA Tournament, only to hang up the suit every summer and show her college charges how it's really done.
It's arenas full of kids, some of whom even watch the game between seven or eight trips to the souvenir and concession stands. And rows of good seats devoid of people wearing sunglasses and talking to clients, agents or managers. It's professional sports where the athletes aren't bigger than the game, and the fans respect them a heck of a lot more because of it.
And hey, it's even about the shortest lines you've ever seen in a men's restroom at a sporting event.
But none of those charming anecdotes may resonate with you as reasons to tune in on Friday night when the Connecticut Sun look to knock the Detroit Shock out of the playoffs. To each his own. There's a whole continent of seemingly rational people who might substitute rugby and vegemite for baseball and apple pie, and I have no idea what they see in such a brutal and nasty endeavor. And rugby's no easy task, either.
And that's the point. You're entitled to not like the WNBA. You're even entitled to dislike the WNBA. But do it for reasons that go beyond lame jokes, misogynistic insecurities and tired talking points. Do it for what's on the court. Because there's way too much time spent debating what the WNBA is off the court.
The truth is that the WNBA makes for both a weak villain and a weak victim. Picking on the league is the equivalent of scheduling Sam Houston State and Indiana State for your nonconference football schedule (not to cast any aspersions on the good folks at Texas Tech). It excites the alumni and angers the opposing coach when you put up 70 points on the scoreboard, but nobody else pays much attention.
But on the flip side, sticking up for the corporate side of the WNBA is about as much fun as sticking up for Burger King against McDonald's. While it's home to some wonderful players and compelling basketball, there's nothing glorious or altruistic about the WNBA. It's a business ultimately out to make money, and that means marketing. Lots of marketing.
Just like every other business.
You're tired of having the WNBA forced down your throat? You would be content to ignore the league, if only the folks on television would let you? Welcome to the United States, the line for complaints forms to the right.
Sorry, but since when have we been squeamish about promotion in this society? We live in a world saturated with people selling things. Have you ever heard a NASCAR driver manage to give equal weight to Jesus Christ and the guys at AC Delco in a postrace interview? And the whole talking duck bit has gotten a little old at this point, but I'm not ready to beat down the doors of a certain insurance company just because they keep running the ads.