WNBA Coach Cheryl Reeve Talks About The Past, Present, And Future Of Women’s Basketball

Cheryl Reeve has been around the WNBA for a long time. Throughout her 15-plus years coaching in the league, she’s witnessed the evolution of professional women’s basketball firsthand from its early beginnings to Saturday night’s 130-121 victory of the West, coached by Reeve, over the East in the WNBA All-Star Game. As the fiery head coach of the Minnesota Lynx and one of the most successful and outspoken coaches in the game, Reeve has a lot to say about the WNBA’s early days, where the league is at now, the need for more consistent media coverage, and how she handles a conversation with the average naysayer who says, “women’s basketball is boring.”

Deadspin: You were an assistant coach in the WNBA for seven years and head coach for the Lynx since 2009. What was it like in the early days of the league as far as the naysayers go, what you had to put up with, the quality of basketball, and the overall lack of support—monetary or otherwise?

Reeve: During my early days coaching in the WNBA—2001 through roughly 2005—because of the naysayers, I spent each offseason concerned about the uncertainty of whether there would be a next season for our league. During that time, the naysayers were not only those who disparaged women in sports in general but some of the franchises themselves. Back in 2001, every team in the league had a brother franchise, an NBA counterpart. Many teams did not receive overall support from its own franchise, including the one I worked for in Charlotte. The folks running the NBA team viewed the WNBA team as second, heck, even third-class citizens. In Charlotte, the Hornets brass did not want the Sting in the building when they were there. Resources provided for the Sting operation were minimal, meaning minimal sales and other support staff, salaries, etc.

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