Caissa Casarez

Sugar, Spice, and Minnesota Nice: A Look Ahead to WNBA All-Star Weekend

The All-Star break is a common part of professional sports leagues no matter when their season is. It's a few days every year to celebrate the best of the best, and more often than not, it's at about the halfway point of each season.

For the WNBA, however, a shorter season with the same amount of games means this year's All-Star Break is at about the 2/3rds mark of the year. But the show will still go on. We're just about a week away from WNBA All-Star 2018 presented by Verizon, which kicks off with community events before the game on Saturday, July 28.

This year's rosters have a different feel to them than in years past because the WNBA did away with conference affiliation for the first time in All-Star Game history. Despite the new rule, many thought the voting process felt tougher because of the stellar play seen across the league this season. While there were no big surprises in the All-Stars announcement earlier this week, a few players on the bubble didn't make the cut simply because there weren't enough slots. (Indiana rookie Kelsey Mitchell and Atlanta's Tiffany Hayes came to mind -- especially after Hayes' buzzer beater from beyond half court to win the game…)

But I digress.

The top two fan vote-getters were set to pick the rosters this year, also without regard to conferences. That captaincy honor went to Washington's Elena Delle Donne and Los Angeles' Candace Parker. The Sparks forward finished third in the fan voting but received the captaincy after leading vote-getter Maya Moore declined it, citing other commitments. She and her Minnesota Lynx are hosting the All-Star weekend for the first time in its history, after all.

Selecting the coaching staffs for those rosters went a little differently as well. This year, the staffs of the top two teams in the league as of July 13 got the honors; Seattle's Dan Hughes will coach Team Delle Donne, while Phoenix's Sandy Brondello will lead Team Parker. Many might have expected Lynx head coach/general manager Cheryl Reeve and her staff to take one of those spots after they led Minnesota to the top record in the regular season. But as she told the crowd at her TalkNorth.com live podcast earlier this week, that rule changed in the offseason. And while it admittedly would have been cool to coach in an All-Star Game at home, Reeve said she's okay with having a different role in the weekend's festivities.

That role includes being part of a special panel about supporting women and the WNBA that will be held in between team practices on Friday, July 27, at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It's one of a few weekend events open to people with tickets to the game, and the Lynx have a special ticket program in place in an effort to get as many fans in the arena as possible.

Basketball fans of all kinds across the country will find something to like at this year's All-Star Game. This season of play has been action-packed across the board, so this year's All-Star teams are truly spectacular. It's a perfect way for new fans to follow the league and for current fans to see more dominance on the court. Also, the three-point contest will be back this year. Reigning champion Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky is back, too; she'll look to get her second consecutive title during the contest at halftime.

You can tune in to watch the All-Star Game on ABC at 3:30 PM Eastern/2:30 PM Central on July 28. Or make a trip of it and visit the Twin Cities! I promise it won't be as cold here as it was during the Super Bowl. The league has been growing in attendance and viewership across the board, so the more eyes on the game, the better. If you can't make it to Minnesota for the game, check your local ABC affiliate for broadcast information.

I'll be covering the game and all the weekend's festivities from Minneapolis on Twitter (@cmcasarez) and here on The Victory Press, so stay tuned!

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