Dawn Staley, WNBA stars highlight Warriors women’s basketball

Before the top-ranked South Carolina basketball team took center stage in its Sunday game against No. 2 Stanford, coach Dawn Staley highlighted some of the biggest issues in women’s sports after Friday. Golden State Warriors San Francisco game.

Moderated by Stephen CurryAfter the Warriors’ 111-101 victory over the Knicks, the panel, produced by the empowering campaign, also included South Carolina alum Aja Wilson and fellow Las Vegas ace Chelsea Gray, a native of Hayward and the 2022 WNBA Finals MVP.

The painting was presented in front of a group of more than 40 female high school basketball players from Piedmont, St. Mary’s, Stockton, and Moro Catholics who also participated in a clinic with Gray and Wilson in Oakland earlier in the day.

Among the many topics centered around women’s athletics, the panel reflected on how Article IX affected it during its 50th anniversary.

“As a coach, you see more of what’s going on,” Staley said. “The disparities, which we saw at our NCAA Championships in 2021, the guys had amazing weight rooms and we had dumbbells and a yoga mat. You don’t know what you don’t until you watch and actually try it.”

Wearing a “Free BG” hat while Brittney Grenier remains unjustly detained in Russia for more than 275 days, Staley has long been vocal about equality in women’s athletics.

She talked about Aliyah Boston, the top player in women’s college basketball with South Carolina, who wasn’t invited to the ESPYs, which Curry hosted. Staley admitted the men’s best player wasn’t invited either, but in celebrating the sport all year long, the exclusion of one of the biggest stories in women’s sports was a slight.

“Equality does not mean fair,” she said. “There are some things we want in the women’s game that men don’t want and some things they want that we don’t.”

An invitation has been sent out to Boston, Staley said about 45 minutes after tweeting about ESPY’s humiliation in Boston and how important the show is as a platform for women’s sports.

Gray and Wilson also highlighted accessibility in women’s basketball coverage, particularly how difficult it is to watch WNBA games.

“You have to open three tabs, you have to close them, go back and refresh, go to the home page, and then it’s halftime,” said Wilson, the 2022 WNBA MVP winner. “I really hope we get the vision.”

Staley derided the WNBA League Pass he owes money after being unable to watch most broadcast games, and Gray cited “innovative” ways to stream, such as the deal with Amazon Prime a year earlier.

“These big companies can join the fight,” she said. “I think that’s when you start to see growth.”

South Carolina and Stanford take place Sunday in front of a national audience on ABC, as the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the nation face off for only the 63rd time in the regular season. In her press conference Saturday, Staley said, “Are we excited that we’re playing on ABC against the NFL, men’s collegiate basketball? There’s clearly room for that, otherwise it wouldn’t be broadcast nationally.”

Gray and Wilson brought the first ever title to the Aces professional sports and Las Vegas as a whole, with Gray winning the Finals MVP award after a historic performance. The WNBA enjoyed its highest ratings ever over the course of the 2022 season for its televised games on ESPN.

As the national audience grows, so does the local interest.

In an interview with The Chronicle, Gray said of her home Bay Area potentially getting a future WNBA team, “It would be nice to be able to travel down here and see a team. I think the Bay Area would treat them well and welcome them with open arms.”

The Warriors wore their City Edition uniforms on Friday, which were designed by Auckland artist and muralist Alison Hoyman to honor the women’s suffrage movement, with a golden-yellow rose in the center.

The Warriors and Rakuten are donating $25,000 to the Women’s Sports Foundation, which was present at the game and at the panel.

Marisa Engieme is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: marisa.ingemi@sfchronicle.com

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