SBD/May 24, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

WNBA Counting On No. 1 Pick Brittney Griner To Drive League Ratings, Ticket Sales

Griner's dunking ability makes her one of the more well-known players in the league
Mercury C Brittney Griner, the No. 1 overall pick in the most recent WNBA Draft, not only is “being counted on to lead the Mercury to a third WNBA title, she's expected to open a gateway from the WNBA to new fans across the U.S. and beyond,” according to John Marshall of the AP. Griner’s "dunking dexterity has made her a celebrity, a regular on the sports highlight shows and a recognizable name even to casual sports fans.” Lynx G Seimone Augustus said, "Even if people don't know her or know about her game, they've heard about the girl that can dunk." Mercury GM & coach Corey Gaines said, "It's our responsibility (to watch out for her), but it's also our responsibility to help the league." The WNBA, which opens its season on Monday, has had “its share of players who came into the league with plenty of hype," from former WNBAer Chamique Holdsclaw to Mercury G Diana Taurasi to Sparks C Candace Parker. But few have “generated the kind of buzz Griner has circulating around her.” The Phoenix market “seems to have embraced Griner's arrival, with her image repeatedly splashed across local newspapers, not to mention a multi-story banner of her dunking hanging from a downtown building" across from U.S. Airways Center. The Mercury, "not surprisingly," have "crafted their marketing and ticketing promotions around Griner, but so have other teams.” In addition, Griner and the Mercury will appear on “six of the 14 games on ESPN and ABC, starting with Monday's home opener” (AP, 5/23). USA TODAY’s Scott Gleeson noted Griner on Monday “plays her first game in a league she's projected to bring to life behind her never-before-seen athleticism on the court and her effervescent personality off the court.” ESPN analyst Carolyn Peck said, "This is the most anticipated season other than when the league started" (USATODAY.com, 5/23).

NEW LOOK FOR LOGO: The WNBA unveiled a new league logo for this season, and Commissioner Laurel Richie said, "As we sat and looked at the athleticism and diversity of our players, we wanted to make sure that we were presenting ourselves in the marketplace in way that reflected that." The biggest change was "updating the silhouette in the logo." Richie: "We call her 'Logo Woman' and she's really a composite of that 11-12 current WNBA players. We love the fact that their athleticism, taking it to the hoop versus dribbling -- we think that is a better reflection of the level play and level of competition in the league today" ("WNBA Preview Show," NBA TV, 5/23).
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