Unique season: August reserved for Athens

Updated: January 21, 2004, 3:59 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- The WNBA season will last four weeks longer than usual when the league takes a break in August to allow its top players to compete in the Athens Olympics.

The league released its schedule Wednesday, with three games on opening day May 20, and a rematch (televised by ABC) between 2003 WNBA title finalists Detroit and Los Angeles on May 29.

The Sparks won back-to-back titles before the Shock rallied after losing the series opener last year.

The Olympic break is Aug. 2-31, with the games scheduled for Aug. 13-28. The league said about 30 WNBA players will represent their countries at the Olympics.

ABC will televise seven regular-season Saturday games in the WNBA's eighth season, beginning with the Phoenix Mercury at the Connecticut Sun on May 22.

On opening day, four-time WNBA champion Houston plays host to the San Antonio Silver Stars, the Sacramento Monarchs visit the Phoenix Mercury and the Seattle Storm play host to the Minnesota Lynx.

The regular season ends Sept. 19. The playoffs are scheduled to begin Sept. 24, while the finals start Oct. 8.

ESPN2 will televise 10 games, the Oxygen network will show five games, and a total of 40 regular-season and playoff game will air on NBA TV.

The New York Liberty will play six games at Radio City Music Hall as Madison Square Garden will be used for the Republican National Convention.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.