This past weekend, July 9-10, the 2022 WNBA All-Star weekend occurred in Chicago for the first time. Saturday, July 9, consisted of the skills challenge and three-point contest. Sunday, July 10, team Wilson and team Stewart faced off in Wintrust Arena for the 2022 All-Star game.
The roster for the WNBA 2022 skills challenge included; Las Vegas Aces guard Jackie Young, Aces Guard Kelsey Plum, Chicago Sky forward/ center Azurá Stevens, Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot, Indiana Fever forward NaLyssa Smith, Atlanta Dream guard Rhyne Howard, New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu and, Connecticut Sun forward Jonquel Jones. These eight women paired with eight EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) athletes competing in Nike Nationals AAU tournament.
Each pair participated in a challenge showcasing dribbling, passing and shooting skills.
The EYBL high school athletes began the challenge dribbling in and out between cones/obstacles, making a pass through a target and dribbling down to the other end of the court for a lay up. After the EYBL athletes got through these obstacles, they passed the ball off to the player they were paired with. The WNBA players went through the same obstacles along with dribbling down to the other end making a three pointer. The challenge began in brackets eliminating four groups, then two more. This left team Ionescu and team Smith in the championship round.
Ionescu paired with EYBL athlete Zoe Brooks and defeated Smith’s team in the championship round of the skills challenge. In her first appearance of the WNBA’s All-Star weekend Ionescu brings back the first WNBA skills challenge champion trophy in Liberty franchise.
The three-point contest participants included, Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale, Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum, Atlanta Dream guard Rhyne Howard, Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd, Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley and Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins.
Players are given one minute and ten seconds to shoot from five spots on the court. Each rack holds five balls, four balls worth 1 point and a money ball worth 2 points. In addition to these five racks, two 4-point stations 6 feet further than the three-point line. One ball is placed after the second rack and another after the third.
Quigley completed the first round with the highest score of 26. In the final round she faced off against Atkins and Howard. Both Atkins and Howard finished with 24 in the first round. In the final round Howard recorded a score of 14, Atkins 21 and Quigley 30. Quigley’s win makes 4 three-point championship titles for the Sky’s guard. Quigley’s four wins sets a record for both the NBA and WNBA. No player has won the three-point contest four times. With this accomplishment Quigley retires from the three point contest.
Team Wilson Defeats Team Stewart
Team Wilson’s captain Las Vegas Aces forward Aja Wilson and co-captain Minnesota Lynx forward Sylvia Fowles selected nine other players for their team. The nine included Las Vegas Aces forward Dearica Hamby, New York Liberty forward Natasha Howard, Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker, Connecticut Sun forward Brionna Jones, Ariel Atkins, Rhyne Howard, Sabrina Ionescu, Kelsey Plum and Courtney Vandersloot.
Team Stewart’s captain Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart and co-captain Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird selected nine as well. Their nine included Chicago Sky guard Kahleah Cooper, Phoenix Mercury guard Skylar Diggins- Smith, Chicago Sky forward Emma Meesseman, Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas, Arike Ogunbowale, Jackie Young, Jonquel Jones and Jewell Loyd.
Team Wilson defeated Team Stewart scoring 134 to Team Stewart’s 112. Kelsey Plum was awarded 2022 All-Star game MVP finishing the game with 30 points.
The highlight of the game was Sylvia Fowles fast break dunk in the first half. This was Fowles first dunk since 2009’s All-Star game. Fowles succeeded in getting the fans out their seats in her final WNBA All-Star game.
Honoring Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles
The two legends participated in their final All-Star Game as they both plan to retire after this season. The WNBA and fans honored the two with a sentimental video presentation and flowers between the first and second quarters. Bird is the all-time leader in assists, games played and games won in the WNBA. Fowles is the all-time leader in rebounds and field goal percentage in the WNBA.
Supporting Brittney Griner
The WNBA also honored Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury forward, who is currently being wrongfully detained in Russia. Griner was a honorary WNBA All-Star starter. Both teams wore shooting shirts with Griner’s name and number 42 on their backs. After half time, each player played wearing Griner All-Star jerseys for the remainder of the game showcasing their support.