WNBA quotes reveal insights about basketball, encourage athletes to believe in themselves, and spread love for the game. So today, let’s take a look at some of the best quips made by all time greats on the court and off, from Lisa Leslie to Barack Obama and Gabrielle Union. Let’s get inspired for greatness by greatness!
Everyone likes to talk about women’s basketball. But these WNBA quotes from iconic hoops stars as Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes, and current stars Sue Bird and Candace Parker, are really worth remembering. We’ll also share some wise words from the late NBA basketball legend, Kobe Bryant, who was a huge proponent of the WNBA.
Whether they’re being interviewed after a hard-won game or just speaking their mind off the court, WNBA players have a lot to say! Here are some impactful WNBA quotes from both current and former superstars.
“For me, being tall was very positive because I thought my mom was the most beautiful person ever.”Lisa Leslie
The 6’5” superstar knew who she was from an early age. And credits her mother for her self-esteem. That confidence went a long way, as the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame-r, WNBA legend and four-time Olympic gold medalist has deftly secured her place amongst WNBA basketball royalty. Watch her read a touching letter to her mother here:
“154M(million)… must.be.nice. We over here looking for a M (million) but Lord, let me get back in my lane.”A’ja Wilson
A’ja Wilson learned how to be more vocal about issues that matter to her during her junior year at USC, as she led the Gamecocks to the 2017 national championship. So when she saw the value top NBA players were being awarded, she tweeted her frustration about LeBron James’ new basketball contract versus the top-paid player’s WNBA salary.
A’ja stood up for addressing the monetary disparity between the sexes. Beyond just their base contracts, she also wanted to equal the percentages out. And you’ve got to agree with her!
“And to be blunt it’s the demographic of who’s playing. Women’s soccer players generally are cute little White girls while WNBA players, we are all shapes and sizes … a lot of Black, gay, tall women … there is maybe an intimidation factor and people are quick to judge it and put it down.”Sue Bird
The ultra-talented Sue Bird doesn’t hold back when talking about the way the W is being perceived and received. She shared her perspective that even though both women’s sports leagues are female athletes playing at a high level, the soccer world and the basketball world are just totally different because of the stars’ demographics. She’d like to see society appreciating and celebrating diversity.
“It didn’t matter how good I was. It was always, ‘You’re a girl. You can’t play with the guys’. It has always been motivation for me.”Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl, one of the GOATs, emphasizes the struggle that female basketball players face. It’s a notion that women have had to contend with since the dawn of time. And they have been, at least since 1946 – when Ethel Merman sang the immortal words, “Anything you can do I can do better!”
“The shorts came in short or extra short. As soon as I heard that — ‘sleek and sexy’ — I was like, ‘Um, excuse me, I play basketball.’Brittney Griner
She’s not afraid to speak her mind, especially when she believes something is objectifying women. So when the WNBA presented the possibility of a new, “sexier” uniform, Brittney was outspoken about her feelings.
“Don’t be so humble. You’re not that good.”Diana Taurasi
That is Diana Taurasi’s motto. And we politely beg to disagree – with her stats, including three WNBA championship titles, two Finals MVP awards, four Olympic gold medals (we could go on and on!) Taurasi is more than good – she’s exceptional. Watch her reveal some of her secrets here:
“You have to love your sport. Your passion and dedication can’t be some-time, part-time or spare-time. It has to be all-time.”Breanna Stewart
Breanna Stewart’s excellent advice is both poetic and commanding. No wonder she is the portrait of a winner. She began with a championship in high school. Then followed it up with four more banners in college. Threw in an Olympic Gold Medal. And capped it off with two WNBA championship rings. And that’s just her story so far!
“As a woman athlete I know that there’s roughly the same amount of guys coming up asking for autographs on my jersey as there are girls. Times are changing. I don’t think my daughter has ever heard ‘You play like a girl’ because that’s not acceptable nowadays. We’re starting with the correct generation. The generation that I believe has it wrong? Well, I don’t have any words for them.”Candace Parker
And the correct generation is tuning in in full force. ESPN’s coverage of the Seattle Storm’s championship-clinching victory in Game 3 of the 2020 WNBA Finals was up 34% year-over-year over Game 3 of the 2019 WNBA Finals. The game averaged 570,000 viewers. Which is also up 27% over the Washington Mystics’ Game 5 championship win last year.
“If you don’t have a desire to get better, you won’t be in this league a long time because there’s always somebody coming, trying to get your spot.”Jonquel Jones
Jonquel Jones speaks the truth when it comes to a player’s commitment to the WNBA. Check out a typical day for her during the season, as well as see her amazing ability below. There may be somebody coming around the corner after 6 foot 6 Jonquel, but they’re going to have some really big shoes to fill. Her career totals include 1652 points, 1047 rebounds, 198 blocks, 191 assists and 109 steals, despite sitting out the 2020 season.
“So many have contributed to my journey, it would be all too simple to deem my career a single effort. It is not. I am a product of a village.”Tina Thompson
Tina Thompson’s modesty was on full display during her induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018. Listen to her passionate speech below:
“To be honest, I just want to educate more people about the WNBA, women in sports… empowering women in general… Especially educating other women on how to empower women.”Nneka Ogwumike
Nneka has her work cut out for her. But considering what she was able to help achieve with the new, eight-year collective bargaining agreement, she’s the woman for the job. For the first time in league history, the average WNBA player will earn a six-figure salary while top players are eligible for annual compensation that could push $500,000.
So there’s no doubt she’ll continue to move mountains to help other women worldwide. Watch The Daily Show host interview our WNBA All-Star:
“On the court, everything has to be perfect.”Sabrina Ionescu
If she makes a shot in a drill but it doesn’t feel good to her (not enough backspin, not enough legs, not enough arc), she’ll shoot it again, reports The Ringer. And again and again and again. She expects herself to make every single one. So her coaches try to put her on something like a pitch count—limit the number of times per day she does something that would potentially get her injured. But, of course, she defies it.
“I took control of my own destiny, at age 7, and threw my hearing aids out… I wanted to fit in, and be like everybody else.”Tamika Catchings
Born hearing-impaired, Tamika never let anything slow her down. She found her voice through sports, and had a remarkable playing career. She played for only one WNBA team, the Indiana Fever, during her phenomenal 15 seasons in the league. And today, she serves as its General Manager. Watch her inspirational TEDTalk here:
Now that you know what WNBA players have to say, explore what other notable figures have mused about the league. See WNBA quotes from former WNBA coaches, NBA basketball superstars, and celebrities who love the W.
“There’s no better way to learn than to watch the pros do it. The WNBA is a beautiful game to watch.”Kobe Bryant
Kobe shared this thought at the 2019 opening game between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Las Vegas Aces. He was a huge supporter of the WNBA and often brought his daughter, Gianna Bryant, to games with her basketball team. Gianna wanted to eventually play in the league, a goal which Kobe had supported. Tragically, Gianna’s dream never came to pass, as both lost their lives in a helicopter crash in January of 2020.
“The WNBA changed the equation for a young female broadcaster who wanted nothing more than to remain close to the game, and call basketball games.”Doris Burke
ESPN and ABC sports announcer Doris Burke credits the league for propelling her career. Her incredibly commentary for the New York Liberty propelled her to new heights, as she became the very first female analyst for the NBA.
“Ever since I’ve been in Phoenix I’ve made it a point to support the [Phoenix] Mercury players and support the WNBA as a whole… I’m inspired by them, which made it easy to wear the hoodie and give them the support they deserve.”Devin Booker
Phoenix Suns point guard Devin Booker expresses his heartfelt feelings about his female peers. But he’s not the only one. In a show of solidarity, many NBA superstars wore the orange hoodie with the league’s logo during the start of the WNBA’s 2020 season to draw even more attention to our hoop heroines.
“Watching these women play isn’t just entertaining – it’s empowering. Their athletic ability, hard work and determination are unmatched.”Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle was looking forward to the 2017 WNBA Finals. More and more we’re seeing actresses getting involved in supporting women in sports. In 2019, 26 celebrities endorsed the USWNT’s call for equal pay.
“We will look at when we play, how we play, who are our fans, and how do we broaden the pool that is already aggregated. From top to bottom, everything is on the table for how we improve the business.”Lisa Borders
At the start of the 2018 season, the WNBA was determined to increase their exposure and bring more attention to the market. They began working on a new logo and re-branding the league to propel it forward long-term. Looks like that strategy is working.
“For me, this opportunity is not a step down, sideways, backwards, somehow different than the men’s game. Basketball is for everyone. It’s for everybody. That’s what makes it such a beautiful game.”Derek Fisher
Upon landing the head coaching job for the Los Angeles Sparks, former NBA champ Derek Fisher told the world that he was proud of his new position and was looking forward to the challenge. And he proved to be just the spark that the Sparks needed – having taken the team to the playoffs in his first two seasons at the helm.
“Team playing, that’s what I see when I’m out there watching the WNBA games. All the girls play as a team, and they have each other’s backs, and that’s great”.Keke Palmer
The multi-hyphenate actress/singer toured with the WNBA during their 2007 season and became a huge fan of the league! Read her blog post on the experience here.
“The way the editors decided on what to cover was, they said, part art and part science… I used to always tweak them. I’d say that sounded like excuses, and I reminded them that’s the way the old boys’ network always cut down on minorities and women getting jobs.”David Stern
Former Commissioner Stern always went to bat for the league and its ladies, especially when it came to how the Associated Press would cover WNBA stories. It was always great to have him in your court.
Because it all starts with the draft, the WNBA Draft has sparked some insightful quotes from players and celebrities over the years. Here are a few of our favorites.
“Draft Day, when we drafted Elena. Honestly, I didn’t watch her play that much… just knowing that she wanted to be here with the Sky made me feel a whole lot better… she’s that package that we’ve been needing.”Sylvia Fowles
Sylvia Fowles was excited when she learned that (future) superstar Elena Delle Donne would be joining the Chicago Sky during the 2013 WNBA Draft. With the addition of Elena, Fowles anticipated that her team had a winning formula. And she was right, because that season the Sky won the Eastern Conference title.
“I’m just happy to take on that ‘Mamba’ mentality into the next phase of my life.”Sabrina Ionescu
While being interviewed by ESPN on Draft Day 2020, Sabrina recollected about the impact Kobe Bryant had on her game play. Of course the number one draft pick will live up to Kobe’s high standards, once she recovers from the ankle injury that unfortunately kept her on the sidelines for most of her rookie season. In the meantime, enjoy watching her work some of her magic during her incredible 33-point game against the Dallas Wings here.
“I know you’re going to go out there and kill it.”Lil Wayne
WNBA fan Weezy showed his love for Chennedy Carter after she was chosen as the Number 4 draft pick. The rap superstar couldn’t wait to interview the future WNBA superstar and chatted with her about her college career, what she’ll bring to the Dream, and why Sue Bird is her idol.
Now you know what celebrities have to say about the WNBA. And have greater insight into the players hopes and hoop dreams. Let’s see what folks have to say about their love for basketball and what the game means to them.
Not only do the ladies of the WNBA have great insights – they’ve also shared inspirational basketball quotes that will get you moving and motivated. Check out uplifting WNBA quotes by the stars.
“You cannot achieve unless you believe… in yourself. You are more capable than you think.”Elena Delle Donne
Washington Mystics star power forward Elena Delle Donne bets on herself, given the incredible feats she has accomplished on the basketball court. Elena was drafted by the Chicago Sky with the second overall pick of the 2013 WNBA draft, eventually leading them to the 2014 WNBA Finals, though they lost to the Phoenix Mercury. Later, after joining the Washington Mystics, Elena led the team to their first WNBA Championship in franchise history in 2019. As a result she’s been awarded two WNBA Most Valuable Player Awards (2015, 2019), has been selected to six all-star teams, and became the first WNBA player to join the 50-40-90 club.
“Before the WNBA, America didn’t have basketball players to look up to if they were girls. Now they can see us and dream of being like us.”Ticha Penecheiro
Hall of Fame inductee and former WNBA assists record-holder Ticha Penecheiro emphasized the way the league helps girls aspire to reach higher. And former President Obama condones the idea WNBA players are “wonderful role models” too. As he hosted WNBA champions the Indiana Fever at the White House, he noted that his daughter, Sasha, plays basketball and talked about how the league set a standard for her.
“For [Sasha] to have wonderful role models like this, who work hard, know how to play like a team, are incredibly poised…that’s the kind of models you want for your children.”Barack Obama
“You don’t have to be the best… but you have to be YOUR best.”Skylar Diggins-Smith
Phoenix Mercury 5’9″ point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith really takes her own words to heart. Which is apparent through her incredible basketball accomplishments. We’re talking earning a WNBA All-Star spot four times, being an All-WNBA Team member three times, and winning the 2014 WNBA Most Improved Player award, incredible. She’s a do-it-all playmaker, ranking in the top-10 in scoring, assists, and total steals in a season three times throughout her WNBA career (2014, 2017, 2018)
“Never let the fear of failing discourage you from trying.”Sue Bird
Nothing has stopped the phenomenal Sue Bird from reaching for the stars, when you consider her enviable basketball stats. She’s secured 4 WNBA Championship rings, is an 11-time WNBA All-Star, has earned 4 Olympic gold medals, and won the NCAA Championship twice. Plus, she’s still making history at 40 years old!
“I play with the mentality that no one can stop me, and no one ever will be able to stop me.”Liz Cambage
That was certainly true when Liz Cambage scored the highest number of points in a WNBA game. She notched up 53 points when she played center for the Dallas Wings in 2018. She was also the first woman to even slam dunk in the Olympic Games.
But basketball doesn’t just inspire, it’s also a way of life. And players never hesitate to speak their minds on how much they love the game.
Read on to see a few basketball love quotes that show how WNBA players truly feel about the game that catapulted them into the spotlight.
”You have to not only love the game, you have to love the training, the practice, and the competing. You have to love everything about it.”Maya Moore
If anyone’s an expert on women’s basketball, it’s the extremely accomplished Maya Moore. Certainly she knows a thing or two about dedication to the game, as she’s earned accolades such as 2011 Rookie of the Year, All-Star MVP, and Finals MVP. Plus, she won four WNBA Championship titles with her team the Minnesota Lynx.
“I started playing basketball at age 15, so I was a little late playing basketball, but the love of the sport is what drove me, and I wanted to learn everything there was about it.”Cynthia Cooper
It’s hard to believe that WNBA legend Cynthia Cooper was ‘late to the game’ in years, because she certainly wasn’t in talent. Cynthia (aka the Michael Jordan of women’s hoops) dominated the game during her five-year career playing for the Houston Comets. She led the league in scoring per game (22.7 avg) in her second season, and was also voted the MVP. You can still see the passion she has for the hoops in this recent interview:
“I’ve worked my whole life to become a great basketball player. When I see that jersey go up, I’m sure I’m gonna have flashbacks to when I was 4 and 5 years old playing in my driveway because I loved it. I still love it to this day. It’s been one of my first loves in life: basketball.”Becky Hammon
Former superstar Becky Hammon was named one of the 20 greatest players in WNBA history. And is also the first female to coach in the NBA as the current Spurs assistant coach. Her retired jersey (#25, San Antonio Stars) is a true testament to her love of the game. And today, her love story continues.
“I’ve learned a lot of lessons. Basketball has taught me a lot. Basketball has taken me a lot of places. I think it’s about people, about teams, the dynamics of teams. Obviously, I’ve learned how to run a pick-and-roll, read screens, call offenses and defenses, and read all those kinds of things. But I think for me, the greatest blessing of all of this has just been the people I’ve been able to meet, the friendships, the impact that I’ve been able to have in my community and with other people.” she shared with ESPN in 2016.
No doubt, basketball is a lifelong love for many of us. So commit to the game and trust that it will give back to you.
We hope you’re feeling more inspired to ball out because of these WNBA quotes. From basketball to family to feminism and life, players and coaches have spoken their minds to keep improving things for the next generation and share their love of the game.
Written by Cynthia Cohen, writer/producer and basketball fan.
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