Every offseason in the WNBA, players head overseas to not only continue to play the game they love but also to earn extra money on the court while traveling across the globe and playing the game year-round.
Minnesota Lynx superstar Napheesa Collier knows what that never-ending lifestyle is like, which is why she decided to help launch a new basketball league to try and keep as many players in the United States during the offseason as possible.
This summer, Collier announced she was partnering with New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart to launch Unrivaled, which will initially feature 30 of the top professional women’s basketball players across six teams set to compete in 3-on-3 and 1-on-1 formats, all of which will be played in Miami, Fla.
Now months after the announcement of the new league, Collier and others have continued to focus on getting things in order for when Unrivaled launches, which will be in early 2025. Collier also stated they have seen a great response from players and others throughout the league in heading up this new league.
“We have (gotten commitments). I can’t talk too much about it, but we’re moving along and we’re really excited. We’re launching in January 2025,” Collier said on the Hitting the Hardwood Podcast with Mitchell Hansen. “The feedback has been all really positive and all the players are really excited. Everyone we’ve talked to is really excited. We think this is obviously a really great thing, so we just can’t wait to get that started.”
To change the game you’ve got to create the game pic.twitter.com/9B3aTKf7F1— Unrivaled (@Unrivaledwbb) July 13, 2023
This biggest objective for Collier and others who are part of Unrivaled is to provide players a place to play stateside during the offseason while also earning more money in the United States instead of relying on traveling across the globe to do so. Collier believes that could also help impact and improve the product we see in the WNBA as well.
“I hope it provides us with a place in the U.S. where we can continue to get better at our game while also making money here,” she said. “So many of us have to play overseas to make money and I think a lot of injuries come from that because players aren’t getting the rest that their body needs. When you’re playing year-round year after year, that’s when you see these really terrible injuries. So allowing our bodies to get rest, playing in the U.S. and making money while doing it.”
Collier and the rest of the group who are leading the launch of Unrivaled also hope to allow players a platform to continue to build onto their personal brands while getting more eyes on the game outside of the WNBA season. When players play overseas, that limits the amount of WNBA fans who are able to watch their favorite players take the court. Collier hopes that changes with the start of this new league.
“That’s one of the main reasons we’re doing it, visibility,” Collier added.
.@minnesotalynx star Napheesa Collier "wants to turn stars into superstars" in the new @Unrivaledwbb league.— Outside the Lines (@OTLonESPN) August 1, 2023
The WNBA All-Star tells @JeremySchaap how the new league will further grow women's basketball. pic.twitter.com/YWxd9Mw9mr
Not only is the idea of Unrivaled an exciting one for Collier, but she takes pride in being one of the faces of this new initiative that will hopefully set the foundation for years to come so generations to follow have an opportunity to continue playing right in their backyard rather than overseas.
“It’s cool to be on the forefront of something that we really believe in and we’re hopefully making a huge change in the area that we live in. Basketball is our whole life right now and being so ingrained in that lifestyle, we see the holes in it,” Collier said. “Anyway that we can leave a place better than we found it, it’s such an amazing opportunity.
“Hopefully this is the start of something that, generations from now, it’s still going on and it’s still giving players an outlet. I’m really excited to be in the beginning stages of that because it’s cool to see how things start.
Listen to the Full Podcast
Hear the entire Hitting the Hardwood podcast with Napheesa Collier, including her full reflection of the 2023 season and what she thought of the year that was for her and the Lynx, what she plans to work on this offseason to become a better player and leader in 2024, what the Lynx might do ahead of the new year, the future of Minnesota in 2024 and beyond, and more.