The WNBA announced Wednesday that Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles and Seattle shooting guard Sue Bird, who will retire at the end of this season, will serve as co-captains along with Las Vegas forward A’ja Wilson and Seattle forward Breanna Stewart for the league’s All-All. Star Game on July 10 (ABC, 1 pm ET) in Chicago.
The league also said Phoenix center Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February, will be an honorary All-Star starter. Griner has previously been an All-Star seven times.
This will be the 13th All-Star Game for Bird and the eighth for Fowles. Wilson and Stewart, by virtue of finishing with the most votes from fans, will be the official co-captains of the team and choose their squads during ESPN’s WNBA All-Star Team Selection Special on July 2 ( 3 p.m. ET). They will choose first from the remaining group of eight starters and then from the group of 12 reserves.
Along with the four mentioned above, the other starters are Connecticut forward Jonquel Jones, Los Angeles forward Nneka Ogwumike, Chicago center forward Candace Parker and New York’s Sabrina Ionescu, and Las Vegas teammates Kelsey Plum. and Jackie Young, all guards. This is the first All-Star selection for former No. 1 picks Ionescu (2020), Young (2019) and Plum (2017).
Fowles and Bird will also co-captain; Bird will be paired with Wilson and Fowles with Stewart.
“For icons like Sylvia and Sue to be selected for the AT&T WNBA All-Star Game as starters in their 15th and 19th seasons, respectively, is extraordinary,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “And when you see the starting lineups peppered with All-Stars for the first time like Sabrina Ionescu, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young, it seems only right that Sylvia and Sue, who have said this will be their last season, join A.’ja and Breanna as co-captains of an All-Star event that will go some way to symbolizing the passing of the torch to a new generation of WNBA stars.”
Engelbert added that the league also wanted to honor Griner.
“During every season of Brittney’s career that there has been an All-Star game, she has been selected as an All-Star,” Engelbert said. “It’s not hard to imagine that if BG were here with us this season, she would be selected once again and would certainly showcase her incredible talents. So it’s only fitting that she be named an honorary starter today.” and we continue to work on her safe return to the United States.”
Fans accounted for 50% of the votes for the starters, while current WNBA players and a media panel accounted for 25% each. Wilson was the leader in the fan voting, followed by Stewart.
After the votes were counted, the players were ranked by position (shooting guard and attacking zone) within each of three voting groups: fan votes, player votes and media votes. Each player’s score was calculated by averaging her weighted rank from fan votes, player votes, and media votes. That resulted in four shooting guards and six forward players named as starters. The fan vote served as a tiebreaker for players in a position bracket with the same score.
While there was quite a bit of evenness between the fan, media, and player voting, there were also some big disparities. Among guards, Bird finished third with fans, seventh with players and ninth with media. Among frontcourt players, Parker was third with fans, seventh with midfielders and 13th with players.
Among those who weren’t part of the starting group but are expected to be reserves, Phoenix guard Skylar Diggins-Smith was third with media, fourth with fans and 14th with players. Dallas guard Arike Ogunbowale was fourth with media and players and 11th with fans.
The 12 reserves will be voted on by the league’s coaches and announced on Tuesday. Coaches will vote for three shooting guards, five forward players and four players at any position, regardless of conference, and are not allowed to vote for their own players. If a player is unable to play in the All-Star Game, Engelbert will pick a replacement.