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The Monarch Times

Golden State Valkyries Join WNBA

Starting in 2025, the WNBA will bring a new women’s professional basketball team to  play at the Chase Center. The Golden State Valkyries will be the second professional women’s basketball team in the Bay Area after the SJ Lasers, and the newest team to join the league since 2008. 

Jess Smith, previously the Head of Revenue for NWSL’s Angel City Football Club, began her role as the president of the WNBA team in February. As president, Smith will be responsible for building the team, their business relationships, and their brand. 

Additionally, Ohemaa Nyanin started her role as general manager of the team on May 13, 2024. Nyanin has experience as assistant general manager for the New York Liberty WNBA team. According to the WNBA, while she will continue reporting directly to Golden State CEO Joe Lacob, “Nyanin will oversee all basketball operations, inclusive of roster construction, team building and player development.”

While the Valkyries have no scheduled games at the moment, season-ticket seat deposits are already available for purchase at a cheaper price than the NBA and 6,400 have been purchased so far. 

While the NBA was founded in 1946, the WNBA was not officially approved until around 50 years later in 1996. Currently, the NBA has 30 teams while the WNBA has only 12 teams—excluding the new Bay Area team. Similar to the gap in team numbers, there is also a significant gap in pay as Caitlin Clark, WNBA’s most recent No. 1 draft pick, is to make $76,535 (base salary, not her complete compensation) in her rookie season while Victor Wembanyama, NBA’s most recent No. 1 draft pick, made $12.2 million in his rookie year. 

The Golden State Warriors had previously attempted drafting Denise Long Rife back in 1969, making them the first NBA team to draft a woman. Although Long was to accept the offer, the draft was unsuccessful after the NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy vetoed it due to long standing NBA rules and her status as a high schooler. 

Following Long, Lusia Harris was the first woman successfully drafted for the NBA in 1977, but she rejected the offer, feeling unprepared for the opportunity. Still, Harris is known as one of the greatest centers in women’s basketball history. Currently, no woman has played for the NBA.

The WNBA commissioner, Cathy Engelbert, has hope for the league to reach their goal of having a total of 16 teams in the WNBA by 2028. This expansion would bring hope for the growth of women’s basketball in an NBA-oriented society.

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Catherine Escoto
Catherine Escoto, Co-Editor
Hello! My name is Catherine Escoto and I am a Co-Editor for The Monarch Times for the 2023-24 school year. This is my first year in the class and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I was born and raised in Hayward, California. I love writing during my free time and working with young kids at my job. I can be contacted through my Instagram or my email. Please sit back and enjoy my articles!
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