The Commissioner's Cup returns to the WNBA for a fourth season this month, and it arrives with a slightly new look.

The 2023 champion New York Liberty got their repeat quest off to a comfortable start on Sunday with a 104-68 win over Indiana. Joining them are Connecticut, Phoenix and Minnesota who have all gotten off to winning starts, while Indiana is 1-1 in Cup play.

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This year’s Cup schedule is slightly condensed, with games taking place from June 1st to the 13th. The final will then be played on June 25th, with the team with the best overall record in Cup play acting as hosts.  

While some things about the tournament remain the same — like all games also counting toward the regular season win-loss record — there have been some changes. Previously, teams played 10 qualifying games, but the new format now has teams playing just five throughout the Cup. And during qualifying games, each team plays against in-conference opponents once.

The WNBA also unveiled a new ball specifically designed for the tournament, described in a statement as "a step forward in making our in-season tournament a distinct and recognizable WNBA tentpole."

Similar to past tournaments, Cup teams will play for a $500,000 prize pool, which amounts to around $45,000 per player. The championship game MVP will also receive a bonus.

Each team will also sponsor a nonprofit organization invested in social justice work, with money set to be donated at the conclusion of the Cup. This new charity component is intended to "highlight civic engagement efforts, with an emphasis on the impact of voting on reproductive health matters within communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community."

While the Liberty are looking to capture back-to-back Cups, achieving a repeat is no easy feat. Last year, the 2022 Commissioner's Cup-winning Aces lost in the championship while Seattle, who won the inaugural Cup in 2021, haven’t been back to the championship since.

Commissioner's Cup schedule

Saturday, June 1st

Sunday, June 2nd

Tuesday, June 4th

Wednesday, June 5th

Thursday, June 6th

Friday, June 7th

Saturday, June 8th

Sunday, June 9th

Monday, June 10th

Tuesday, June 11th

Wednesday, June 12th

Thursday, June 13th

The Liberty’s unbeaten streak came to an end on Thursday as Angel Reese and the Chicago Sky got the upset win over New York with a final score of 90-81. 

Angel Reese stood out with a near double-double, registering 13 points and nine rebounds. She’s currently the only rookie this season to exceed 10 points in her first three games, and the first player in Sky history to begin their career with three consecutive double-digit scoring games, per ESPN Stats & Info.

The outcome may not have come as a surprise to Liberty stars Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, who sung Reese’s praises ahead of the game.

"She’s a workhorse," Stewart told The Post. "She doesn’t stop. She’s tough, she’s strong, she’s tough to box out and good at cleaning up for her team offensively and defensively."

"I feel like she’s an energizer bunny," Jones added. "She doesn’t stop moving, she doesn’t stop crashing the boards. Just someone that is gonna be relentless in her approach to getting to the glass and playing tough."

It was the first time Chicago has met New York this season. The game was especially meaningful for new Chicago head coach Teresa Weatherspoon, who led the Liberty for seven years as a player and joined the team's Ring of Honor in 2011.

"This place means a lot to me... I played in that jersey, I adored that jersey, I adored every player that I had an opportunity to play with. The love that I received even today was overwhelming," Weatherspoon reflected after the game.

Following the win, Sky guard Dana Evans had some kind words for her coach.

"I mean, it's just special. She's special," Evans said. "She just breeds confidence in each and every one of us. We love her. We just wanted to go so hard and play hard for her, and I feel like this one was really for her. We really wanted this for her more than anything."

Thursday's victory brings Chicago's record to 2-1, a somewhat unlikely feat given that their offseason featured starter Kahleah Copper getting traded to Phoenix. The Connecticut Sun are now the only undefeated team left in the league this season, and will formidable foes for the Sky as they take their winning streak on the road to Chicago this weekend.

The WNBA continues its historic trajectory one week into the season, with attendance and viewership skyrocketing across the board. 

Indiana’s Saturday game against the New York Liberty was the most-watched WNBA game ever on ABC, drawing 1.71 million viewers. The Sparks vs. Aces matchup that followed became the third most-watched WNBA game broadcast on ABC with 1.34 million viewers.

On Monday, the tense finish between Indiana and Connecticut drew 1.56 million viewers to ESPN, the second most-watched WNBA game to ever air on cable.

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Outside of the league’s viewership, both in-person attendance and merchandise sales have also been on a meteoric rise. On Saturday, the game between New York and Indiana shattered the single-game ticket revenue record in the WNBA, with the Liberty pulling in $2 million in sales. 

New York and Indiana played their home openers in front of more than 17,000 fans, with attendance up 14% year-over-year, according to the league. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Aces, the Liberty, the Wings, the Dream, and others have already sold out of their 2024 season ticket allotments.

Since April’s WNBA Draft, revenue from the WNBA’s official online store is up 2,260%, already blowing past total sales for the entire 2023 season.

While the numbers may cool somewhat as teams settle into their seasons, the pop in demand has already overwhelmingly delivered for the WNBA in 2024.

The New York Liberty are 4-0 on the season for the first time since 2007. 

The 2023 WNBA title finalists notched a 74-63 win over Seattle on Monday night, with Sabrina Ionescu dropping 20 points alongside eight assists. After the game, Ionescu told reporters she thought the team was coming together a bit easier than they did last year.

"I think having a year together, we don't nearly have to communicate as much on the court anymore," she said. "Because we can just play off one another and read. And that's obviously been the growth of this team, is being able to play a season together last year."

The team’s defense has also contributed heavily to the season's winning start. Last night, the Liberty held Jewell Loyd to just 13 points and nine rebounds. Loyd let the Storm in scoring, with only two other players in double digits, while Nneka Ogwumike missed her second straight game with an ankle injury. 

Storm free agency acquisition Skylar Diggins-Smith had eight points, and is averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 assists per game this season. In her postgame remarks, Storm head coach Noelle Quinn called on others to give her grace in her return. 

"There needs to be respect about the fact that she's had two children and hasn’t played in 20 months," said Quinn. "She’s not going to come overnight and be who she was 20 months ago and we have to respect that and honor that. And I do.

"My grace as a coach is to know she’s working her butt off every day. You guys don’t see it. Every single day. Two children. Not one, two. Not many can do that."

The New York Liberty dominated Indiana on Thursday night, winning by a whopping 36 points in the Fever's home opener. 

A sold-out crowd of 17,274 was in attendance to watch as star rookie Caitlin Clark finished the 102-66 defeat with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It’s the first time since January 2021 — her freshman season at Iowa — that Clark's been held to single-digit scoring. 

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"The physicality is definitely up there... I'm easily pushed off screens," she told reporters after the loss. "The game seems a little fast for me right now. The more I play and the more comfortable I get, it's going to slow down a little bit. It will be easier for me to make reads, see things develop."

The Fever were outscored by a combined margin of 57 points in their first two games — the largest two-game point deficit in WNBA season-opening history, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.

"We've got to get to a level of toughness," Fever coach Christie Sides in her own postgame remarks. "When things are going south on us, we're not stopping the bleeding."

"I have great perspective on everything that happens," Clark added. "It was the same in my college career. There were some moments that were absolutely amazing. And there were some moments I was not happy with how I played and how my team performed. That's just life, that's just basketball."

Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who herself experienced a rocky rookie season following a much-hyped college career, offered up some insight on the matter.

"In this league, there are tough defenses all centered around not letting you get the ball, trapping, not letting you score," Ionescu said. "There were many factors that played into what was a tough first season for me in the league, but it helps you be able to figure it out. You have to have those experiences."

But it was reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart that truly stole the show, racking up 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks on the night.

"In general, I just wanted to come out more aggressive coming off of last game," Stewart said after putting up the 24th 30-point game in her career.

Stewart she also commended the fans inside Indianapolis's packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, noting that she hopes that level of support to continue across the WNBA.

"This is how you want every game to be and when it's a sell-out crowd, it gives you a similar playoff atmosphere feel," she said. "People want to be a part of this and the thing now is to continue to sustain it, continue to take the momentum that we have and turn it into something more."

The Chicago Sky showed up in a big way on Tuesday night, taking down 2023 WNBA Finals runners-up New York Liberty by an impressively wide margin. 

The Sky walked away with a 101-53 win, boasting a 48 point swing that still looms large despite the fact that it's only preseason. Perhaps the team felt extra pressure to perform — not only did WNBA League Pass follow through on their promise to stream the game for free, but Chicago Bears rookies Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze also happened to be watching on from the stands.

“I’m gonna just say — it’s about time," said Sky guard Dana Evans in response to the star-studded turnout at Wintrust Arena. "Everybody wants to watch women’s basketball. I feel like we’ve been doing a really good job of doing stuff on the court and off the court. So just having them support us is great — but keep bringing them out."

Chicago's Marina Mabrey was lights out with four threes and 20 points on the night, while training camp addition Chennedy Carter racked up 11 points and two steals. 

Sky rookie Angel Reese proved that she can do it all, putting up 13 points, five rebounds, and two steals in 19 minutes — all less than 24 hours after she walked the Met Gala red carpet in New York. The 6-foot-3 top draft pick out of LSU even knocked down a layup over 2023 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart in one of the night's many highlights.

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"So now yall can delete them drafts & tweets saying i shouldn’t have gone to the met gala & i can’t do both," she later wrote on social media

While some may chalk it up to preseason coaching choices and the fact that it was the Liberty’s first real game outside of training camp scrimmages, New York head coach Sandy Brondello still voiced disappointed in her team’s result.

"We just got our butts kicked, everywhere. I mean everything. It’s an embarrassing effort, I don’t care that it’s preseason," she said in a postgame press conference. "Our starters didn't get us off to a good start. We missed a lot of layups early, but they just took us out of everything."

On a lighter note, the third-year Liberty coach had some kind words for undrafted rookie Jaylyn Sherrod, who showed real effort on defense.

"She has speed," remarked Brondello. "She could guard Dana Evans. No one else could."

Expansion team WNBA Golden State has officially brought on New York Liberty assistant GM Ohemaa Nyanin as general manager, the team announced in a Monday afternoon statement.

The move marks one of the first major personnel hires for the highly anticipated franchise, set to begin league play in 2025. Nyanin will oversee all basketball operations for the Bay Area addition, including building out the roster, shaping the team, and developing talent. 

Nyanin joins team president Jess Smith and senior vice president of marketing and communications Kimberly Veale in the WNBA Golden State front office.

"Ohemaa is the perfect fit to lead our WNBA basketball operations as we prepare for our inaugural season in 2025," Warriors co-executive chairman and CEO Joe Lacob said in the release. "As we moved through the GM hiring process, it became more apparent each day how impressive and well-versed Ohemaa is in all facets of the business, and as a person."

Nyanin was with the Liberty for more than five years, most recently serving as the team’s assistant general manager. Prior to that, she spent five years as the assistant director of the women’s national team at USA Basketball, helping to oversee team operations through gold medal wins at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and the 2018 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup.

"I am truly honored to be chosen as the first general manager of WNBA Golden State," Nyanin said. "Throughout the interview process, it was clear that bringing a WNBA team to the Bay Area was meticulously thought out and those involved are motivated changemakers who will be proactive in growing the league. I look forward to joining this franchise and building a competitive basketball team that the fans deserve."

In a July 2023 profile published by The Next, Liberty assistant coach Roneeka Hodges described Nyanin as the New York team's “Ms. Make-it-Happen."

"She’s a jack of all trades," added Hodges, while Liberty GM Jonathan Kolb paid Nyanin a particularly prophetic compliment.

"She needs to be a general manager in this league," Kolb said. "Full stop, it needs to happen, and that’s her goal."

Jonquel Jones intends to return to the New York Liberty, her agent told ESPN on Tuesday.

The 2021 WNBA MVP was a key piece in the Liberty’s WNBA Finals run last season, which was the team’s first appearance in the Finals since 2002.

Jones was an offseason acquisition by the Liberty last year, having been traded from the Connecticut Sun at her request. She had one year left on her contract at the time, which made her an unrestricted free agent in this offseason.

During exit interviews, Jones wasn’t ready to commit to returning to the Liberty, but noted that she was “definitely trending towards coming back here.”

Jones, according to Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb, was “arguably our best player, just in terms of consistency” in the postseason. He had stressed that the team “definitely” wanted to try and keep Jones in the wake of her free agency.

Last season, Jones averaged 11.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in the regular season. She became even more instrumental in the playoffs, averaging 16.8 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. She was also named MVP of the Commissioner’s Cup championship last season.

The Liberty also had 2023 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart as a free agent this offseason, but she was cored by the franchise last week.

The 2024 WNBA season will bring a new Commissioner’s Cup format, another opportunity for a Las Vegas Aces title defense and an Olympic break.

The schedule tips off with four games on May 14, including the Aces hosting the Phoenix Mercury in their opener and the Indiana Fever potentially showing off the No. 1 overall draft pick against the Connecticut Sun. All 12 teams will play 40 games, and the season will end on Sept. 19 with every team in action.

“We eagerly anticipate tipping off the 2024 season and building on the success of last season, our most-watched in 21 years and a record-setter for social media engagement, digital consumption, All-Star merchandise sales and sports betting,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.

No games will take place from July 18 through Aug. 14 due to the Paris Olympics, which will feature many WNBA players competing for their national teams. The All-Star game will be held on July 20 in Phoenix, and it will also serve as a send-off event for the U.S. Olympic team.

The revamped Commissioner’s Cup tournament will take place before the Olympic break, with the in-season tournament games taking place from June 1-13. The best two teams from that two-week qualifying period will face off in the championship game on June 25.

The Aces will go up against the New York Liberty, who the two-time reigning champions defeated in the 2023 WNBA Finals, three times in the regular season: June 15 and Aug. 17 in Las Vegas and Sept. 8 in New York.

The complete 2024 schedule can be viewed here.

Sabrina Ionescu’s signature shoe hit the market in 2023 as an instant hit, including among NBA players.

But for the New York Liberty guard, the sneaker was a long-held secret. In an essay for Boardroom, Ionescu writes about keeping that secret – and also what it has been like since the launch of the Nike Sabrina 1s.

Among the more startling experiences since the release was seeing a woman wearing the shoes in the grocery store.

“It was the first time I saw someone outside my team or my family repping Sabrina gear,” Ionescu wrote. “The feeling was just surreal. It made this whole journey toward getting a signature line that people all over could get their hands on feel … real.”

Just 11 WNBA players had signature shoes before Ionescu. So when Nike announced the deal, it made headlines.

Before that, Ionescu had to keep the secret of the shoe for an entire year – including from her own family. That made debuting the Sabrina 1s, and wearing them in a WNBA game, feel all the better.

“That day, and every day since, there’s just this feeling of awe, to be honest, of being able to play a game in my own sneaker,” she continued. “I felt rooted in the shoe, knowing what it stood for and the story I wanted to tell.

“Trust me: Keeping a signature shoe — one of your biggest dreams — a secret from your family for an entire year was hard.”

Even still, Ionescu had to explain the importance of a signature shoe to her family, including how having her name on the box and the details – some which are important to her Romanian heritage – set a signature shoe apart.

“It’s been funny these last couple of months because there is nobody from my family or my fiancé’s family that is not in Sabrina gear or Sabrina shoes … to everything that we go to,” she wrote. “It’s like a 30-person Romanian mob that walks around, all reppin’!”

Ionescu has watched as Nike decked out its first floor in New York City, as kids at her camp donned the shoes, and as NBA players including Jrue Holiday, Mikal Bridges and Jordan Poole started wearing them. It’s a testament to the nature of the shoe, which was designed for people of all genders and as a push for equality and bridging the gap in basketball.

Holiday was one of the first players, which Ionescu says is a testament to “where his heart is at in supporting women’s sports.”

“I’m not gonna lie – every NBA game that’s on, that’s all I’m watching for. Who’s wearing my shoes? Who’s got ’em on?” she wrote. “Every game, I just look for the vertical Swoosh that’s on the inside of the shoe.

“It’s crazy to think about now, but the vision that Nike and I had together has really come to life. The fact that the Sabrina 1 is existent now in the NBA, in college basketball, and in high school is what we were going for all along.”