After 18 years in the league, Sue Bird has seen franchises dissolve, teams move and fanbases flourish.
With the 25th anniversary season wrapped up, many are ready to see the WNBA expand once again, something the Seattle Storm guard says she is all for.
“I do think the league needs to expand. It doesn’t need to be too fast,” Bird said, “I think one team at a time, even though I’ve heard different interests from different cities.”
Expansion is starting to look more and more like a real possibility, with four-time WNBA All-Star Alana Beard spearheading the proposal for an Oakland-based WNBA team, as announced in October.
Canadian rap superstar Drake threw his hat into the ring as well, addressing the WNBA via Instagram story in November, writing, “I need a Toronto team.” The WNBA has yet to operate outside the United States in its 25-year history.
Bird points to the excess of talent in women’s basketball as the biggest factor in driving WNBA expansion. The league currently features 12 teams and 144 players.
“It’s not that we don’t have the talent, but for so long, we’ve only been able to give the opportunity to 144 players,” said Bird. “Now the good news is, a lot of players who don’t make the WNBA still go overseas, are still playing professional basketball. So they’re ready, but it’s only been offered to 144, so it will take time to continue to build the talent pool.”
Bird adds that the only way to keep fostering and growing talent is to “give them the opportunity so they can taste it, measure themselves up and then go from there.”
The last time the WNBA added a franchise was in 2009 with the addition of the Atlanta Dream.