WNBA Finals

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The WNBA Finals are the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the conclusion of the league's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002. Starting 2016 Verizon is the official sponsor.

The series is played between the winners of the playoff semifinals. At the conclusion of the championship round, the winner of the WNBA Finals is presented the championship trophy. The WNBA Finals has been played at the conclusion of every WNBA season in history, the first being held in 1997.

Since 2005, the winner of the WNBA Finals has been determined through a 2–2–1 format. The first, second, and fifth games of the series are played at the arena of the team who earned home court advantage by having the better record during the regular season.

History[edit]

The WNBA Finals were originally a single championship game to decide the WNBA champion. However, in 1998, after the addition of two teams, the WNBA Finals were turned into a best-of-three games series. In 2005, the WNBA Finals adopted a best-of-five format. This finale series was known as the WNBA Championship from 1997 to 2001, before changing to reflect its NBA counterpart. In 2016, the WNBA changed to its current playoff format seeding teams #1 thru #8 regardless of conference making it possible for two Eastern Conference or two Western Conference teams to meet in the Finals.

Year Winner Result Loser Finals MVP
1997 Houston Comets [a] 65-51 New York Liberty Cynthia Cooper
1998 Houston Comets 2–1 Phoenix Mercury[b] Cynthia Cooper
1999 Houston Comets 2–1 New York Liberty Cynthia Cooper
2000 Houston Comets 2–0 New York Liberty Cynthia Cooper
2001 Los Angeles Sparks 2–0 Charlotte Sting Lisa Leslie
2002 Los Angeles Sparks 2–0 New York Liberty Lisa Leslie
2003 Detroit Shock 2–1 Los Angeles Sparks Ruth Riley
2004 Seattle Storm 2–1 Connecticut Sun Betty Lennox
2005 Sacramento Monarchs 3–1 Connecticut Sun Yolanda Griffith
2006 Detroit Shock 3–2 Sacramento Monarchs Deanna Nolan
2007 Phoenix Mercury 3–2 Detroit Shock Cappie Pondexter
2008 Detroit Shock 3–0 San Antonio Silver Stars Katie Smith
2009 Phoenix Mercury 3–2 Indiana Fever Diana Taurasi
2010 Seattle Storm 3–0 Atlanta Dream Lauren Jackson
2011 Minnesota Lynx 3–0 Atlanta Dream Seimone Augustus
2012 Indiana Fever 3–1 Minnesota Lynx Tamika Catchings
2013 Minnesota Lynx 3–0 Atlanta Dream Maya Moore
2014 Phoenix Mercury 3–0 Chicago Sky Diana Taurasi
2015 Minnesota Lynx 3–2 Indiana Fever Sylvia Fowles
2016 Los Angeles Sparks[c] 3–2 Minnesota Lynx Candace Parker
2017 Minnesota Lynx[d] 3–2 Los Angeles Sparks Sylvia Fowles
  1. ^ Due to the WNBA's playoff structure in 1997, two Eastern Conference teams met in the championship game
  2. ^ Due to the WNBA's playoff structure in 1998, two Western Conference teams met in the championship series
  3. ^ Due to the WNBA's playoff structure in 2016, two Western Conference teams met in the Finals.
  4. ^ Due to the WNBA's playoff structure in 2017, two Western Conference teams met in the Finals.

Highlights[edit]

  • In 2001, the #4 seed Charlotte Sting was the lowest seed ever to make the WNBA Finals.
  • The 2003 Finals was best known for rekindling a heated rivalry between the two teams' head coaches, Los Angeles Sparks head coach Michael Cooper and former Detroit Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer. Both coaches were fierce NBA competitors who played in the NBA Finals against each other in 1988 and 1989.
  • 2006 marked the first time that a #1 seed did not participate in the WNBA Finals. Detroit and Sacramento were both #2 seeds.
  • The New York Liberty have the most Finals appearances (4) without winning a championship.
  • The Minnesota Lynx are the 6th team to win multiple championships (following Houston, Los Angeles, Detroit, Phoenix and Seattle, respectively).
  • 2006 marked the first time that the team with the best point-differential in the regular-season did not win the WNBA Finals or even advance to the WNBA finals. The Connecticut Sun had the best point differential in '06 but was ousted by the Shock in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • The Detroit Shock hosted the three largest crowds in Finals History (22,076 in Game 3 of 2003 WNBA Finals, 19,671 in Game 5 of 2006 WNBA Finals and 22,076 in Game 5 of the 2007 WNBA Finals)
  • Only three Eastern Conference franchises have won the WNBA Finals: the 1997 Houston Comets (who moved to the Western Conference the following year); the Detroit Shock (who are now in the Western Conference first as Tulsa, now as Dallas) and the Indiana Fever in 2012.
  • The 2007 game-five win by the Phoenix Mercury marked the first time in WNBA history that a team won the Finals while playing on their opponent's home court.
  • In 2008 the San Antonio Silver Stars became the first team in the history of the WNBA Finals to be swept in a five-game series losing to the Detroit Shock.
  • The 2009 Finals series saw around a 60% increase in viewership from the previous season's series.
  • The 2011 WNBA Finals was the first coached by two women.
  • In 2014, the Chicago Sky became the first team to appear in the WNBA Finals with a sub-.500 record.
  • In 2016, the Los Angeles Sparks won by one point despite a later announcement by the WNBA that officials missed an earlier shot-clock violation at 1:14, which should not have counted.[1]

Finals appearances[edit]

Statistics below refer to series wins and losses, not individual game wins and losses. Teams in red have folded and can no longer reach the WNBA Finals.

Finals Team Wins Losses Pct. Years Won Years Lost
6 Minnesota Lynx 4 2 .667 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 2012, 2016
5 Los Angeles Sparks 3 2 .600 2001, 2002, 2016 2003, 2017
4 Houston Comets 2 4 0 1.000 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
4 Detroit Shock 3 3 1 .750 2003, 2006, 2008 2007
4 Phoenix Mercury 3 1 .750 2007, 2009, 2014 1998
4 New York Liberty 0 4 .000 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002
3 Indiana Fever 1 2 .333 2012 2009, 2015
3 Atlanta Dream 0 3 .000 2010, 2011, 2013
2 Seattle Storm 2 0 1.000 2004, 2010
2 Sacramento Monarchs 4 1 1 .500 2005 2006
2 Connecticut Sun 0 2 .000 2004, 2005
1 Charlotte Sting 1 0 1 .000 2001
1 Chicago Sky 0 1 .000 2014
1 San Antonio Silver Stars5 0 1 .000 2008

Active franchises with no Finals appearances[edit]

Records[edit]

This table shows a list of records through the history of the WNBA Finals.

Finals records
Milestone Player Team Date Information
Points, individual Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream October 5, 2011 38 points
Rebounds, individual Sylvia Fowles Minnesota Lynx October, 4, 2017 20 rebounds
Assists, individual Nikki Teasley
Diana Taurasi
Los Angeles Sparks
Phoenix Mercury
August 29, 2002
September 7, 2014
11 assists
Steals, individual Kristin Haynie Sacramento Monarchs August 30, 2006 5 steals
Blocks, individual Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury September 7, 2014 8 blocks
Points, team N/A Phoenix Mercury September 29, 2009 120 points vs. Indiana (OT)
Rebounds, team N/A Detroit Shock September 8, 2007 50 rebounds vs. Phoenix
Assists, team N/A Los Angeles Sparks September 1, 2001 24 assists vs. Charlotte
Steals, team N/A Connecticut Sun October 8, 2004 15 steals vs. Seattle
Blocks, team N/A Minnesota Lynx October 2, 2011 11 blocks vs. Atlanta
Career wins, coach Van Chancellor
Cheryl Reeve
Houston Comets
Minnesota Lynx
1997-2000
2011-2017
4 wins
Margin of victory N/A Phoenix Mercury September 9, 2014 29-point win (97-68)
over Chicago
Attendance, one game N/A Detroit Shock September 16, 2003
September 16, 2007
22,076

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]