Since its founding in 1996, the WNBA has made all kinds of history in each of its seasons. Sports leagues often take many shapes as they seek to establish themselves, which results in the game evolving through historic feats and adjustments. With such a rich history, the WNBA has several cool facts that really can leave someone in awe. Nowadays, the game has never been in a better place. So, with the eyes of the world on women’s basketball, what better time is there to highlight some WNBA fun facts that you might not know? Allow us to put you on to these 13 unique facts about the WNBA.

1. In 2017, the Houston Comets and Minnesota Lynx tied at four Championship titles

The Minnesota Lynx and Houston Comets have made an indelible mark on the WNBA. With four Championship titles apiece since the Minnesota Lynx’s 2017 win, they highlight what it means to sustain excellence over a prolonged period. The teams — housing present and future hall of famers such as Maya Moore, Tina Thompson and others — have set a standard of excellence that is tough to replicate.

2. Sheryl Swoopes was the first player ever drafted into the WNBA

In the inaugural WNBA draft, the Houston Comets chose the legendary Sheryl Swoopes. The three-time MVP had a delayed start to her season, since she had recently given birth. However, she amazingly got herself ready to play just a mere six weeks after the draft. From then on, she had a storied career capped with four WNBA championships.

3. The WNBA began with eight teams

While it is now a 12-team league, the WNBA initially started with eight teams. The Eastern Conference included the Charlotte Sting, Cleveland Rockers, Houston Comets and New York Liberty, while the Western Conference consisted of the Los Angeles Sparks, Phoenix Mercury, Sacramento Monarchs and Utah Starzz.

4. The 3-point line is slightly closer to the basket

There are subtle differences between the WNBA and NBA — one of which is the distance between the basket and the top of the key for the 3-point line. The NBA’s line has 23 feet and 9 inches of distance while the WNBA’s is 20 feet and 6 inches.

5. The games were once played in two 20-minute halves

The basketball league played two 20-minute halves from its inception until 2006. At that point, they converted to a four-quarter format like their NBA counterpart. A little-known fact is that when the NBA began in 1946, they also played in a two-half format initially. The WNBA is now competed in four 10-minute quarters.

6. The basketball is smaller than the NBA’s

The NBA uses a size seven basketball that weighs about 22 ounces while the WNBA uses a size six basketball, weighing about 20 ounces. The difference is to accommodate the general disparity in hand sizes. Women typically have smaller hands than men, so the WNBA balls were designed for a better fit in the name of an even playing field during competition.

7. The basketball’s color was changed in 2013

In 2013, the league changed the basketball’s color. It was a subtle change that occurred as the WNBA adopted an orange and white color scheme. Previously, the ball sported a white and brownish color scheme, so the shift acted as a marketing move that helped set the league apart.

8. Lisa Leslie was the first woman to dunk in a WNBA game

Lisa Leslie first dunked in a 2002 WNBA game against the Miami Sol. The league is generally known for its fundamental gameplay and ball movement. However, on this occasion and several after, Leslie and others have shown that the ladies can take to the air as well. At that historic game, the Hall of Famer showed the world what was possible in women’s basketball.

9. The WNBA has a defunct franchise with a Championship legacy

The Houston Comets dissolved in 2008 mainly due to financial issues. However, what makes this disbanding so unique is that the franchise held four WNBA titles. For the first decade of the WNBA’s existence, it dominated. It’s not often that you witness a team with such a rich legacy lose to the whims of poor money management.

10. The 2024 season is the first for chartered flights

The WNBA is growing in real-time. As of the 2024 season, players can now take chartered flights to their games — an amenity not previously offered. In a similar vein, the NBA also flew their teams on coach until the 1980s. It’s a signal of tangible growth, proving the league’s future will be even brighter than its present.

11. Teresa Weatherspoon hit the first buzzer beater in WNBA finals history

The clip above encompasses everything there is to love about the current Chicago Sky head coach. In a battle with the eventual league champion Houston Comets, Teresa Weatherspoon hits the WNBA finals’ first-ever buzzer beater. Legacy is filled with memorable moments, and right here, Weatherspoon etched her name into history for good.

12. Dawn Staley was the first USA Basketball athlete to bear the U.S. flag at the Olympics

During the opening ceremonies, Dawn Staley bore the American flag at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. The University of South Carolina head coach was the first USA Basketball athlete ever to have the honor. That year’s Olympics also served as a preview of what Americans would enjoy for the inaugural season of the WNBA the following year.

13. Becky Hammon is the first WNBA player to act as NBA head coach

On Dec. 30, 2020, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected from a game in its first half. His top assistant at the time was famed WNBA legend Becky Hammon. As the next person in the hierarchy, she took on his duties for the rest of the game. Thus, Hammon became the first woman to be an acting head coach in the NBA. You can feel her gratitude through the screen in the above clip.