Imperial Valley Press

Griner’s return to WNBA tips off ESPN coverage

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NEW YORK (AP) — Brittney Griner’s return to the WNBA will tip off ESPN’s coverage of the league’s 27th season when the Phoenix Mercury visit the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19 — opening night.

Griner missed all of last season after being arrested at an airport just outside of Moscow on drug possession charges in February 2022. She was brought home in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange in December.

The Mercury’s home opener two days after the opener will also be broadcast nationally as one of 25 regular-season games to be shown on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

“As we get set to tip off our 27th season, ESPN is once again stepping up as an incredibly engaged broadcast partner for the WNBA,” WNBA Commi s s ioner Cathy Engelbert said. “We are grateful that ESPN will provide significan­t opportunit­ies to tell the stories of the incredible players across the league in 2023. From tip-off weekend through the highly anticipate­d postseason, ESPN and Google will continue to serve our growing fan base and deliver a robust national platform for WNBA players with game broadcasts and new, regular-season pregame shows.”

The league will also have it’s All-Star Game in prime time for the first time on Saturday, July 15. The skills challenge and 3-point contest will be the day before.

The New York Liberty, who added former MVPs Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart, as well as Courtney Vandersloo­t, this offseason will be on national television nine times. Defending champion Las Vegas, which added Candace Parker, will appear seven times. Every team will be on at least once.

ESPN will also air a pregame show before at least 10 games during the regular season. The network will air the entire postseason, as well.

The WNBA season will have a record 40 games per team and will again include the Commission­er’s Cup.

 ?? AP PHOTO/PAUL BEATY ?? Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner (42) elbows Chicago Sky’s Stevanie Dolson during the second half in Game 4 of basketball’s WNBA Finals in 2021 in Chicago.
AP PHOTO/PAUL BEATY Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner (42) elbows Chicago Sky’s Stevanie Dolson during the second half in Game 4 of basketball’s WNBA Finals in 2021 in Chicago.

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