he first-ever WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game, taking place at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Ariz., on Thursday, Aug. 12, will showcase the Connecticut Sun against the Seattle Storm, the two teams atop the Commissioner’s Cup standings in each conference. The in-season competition culminates after the Summer Olympic break, jumpstarting the second half of the WNBA regular season.
The inaugural Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game will be exclusively livestreamed by Amazon Prime Video beginning at 9 p.m. ET as both teams vie for the half-million dollar prize pool.
The Commissioner’s Cup in-season competition was announced in January 2020 as a part of the league’s focus on innovation and fan engagement. In May 2021, the league announced the Commissioner’s Cup blueprint, including new partnerships and a significant prize pool in the lead up to the tip of the WNBA’s historic 25th season. Positioned as a “competition within a competition,” regular season action took on an added level of importance as 60 select, intra-conference “Cup games” were played in the first half of the WNBA season, with the Sun and Storm coming out on top in the Eastern and Western Conferences, respectively.
“We’re looking forward to tipping off our first ever WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship and setting the tone for the future of this in-season competition” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “Congratulations to the Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun for clinching spots for their respective conferences in the Cup championship. I’d also like to extend a huge thank you to the Phoenix Mercury for serving as hosts of this inaugural event on August 12th and to Amazon for their partnership to stream the inaugural game on their Prime Video platform.”
Connecticut earned its spot in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game by going 9-1 in Cup play during the first half of the season. Led by a trio of first round picks and 2021 All-Stars, DeWanna Bonner, Brionna Jones and Jonquel Jones, the team dominated in Eastern Conference Cup play. The Sun roster features a pair of sisters in Stephanie and Brionna Jones and strong ties to the University of Maryland, with four players having starred for the Terrapins.
The Western Conference Cup leader Seattle Storm are led by a trio of former No. 1 overall WNBA draft picks, each of whom have played exclusively for the Seattle Storm. Sue Bird (2002), Jewell Loyd (2015), and Breanna Stewart (2016), who have combined to play 27 WNBA seasons. All three are also members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team competing in Tokyo. They are joined by teammates Ezi Magbegor and Stephanie Talbot who are representing Australia in the Olympics.
The 2020 WNBA Champion Seattle Storm currently hold the league’s best record, 16-5, and went 8-2 in Cup play, earning them their spot representing the Western Conference in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game.
The first-ever Commissioner’s Cup trophy is a gold-plated cup, that features an11-inch broad crown, a halved 9-inch wide basketball, engraved basketball seams, and a pedestal that features a recessed WNBA logo that sits upon a trapezoid shaped base.
The crown atop the basketball is inspired by a basketball net and intentionally designed with elements of both a net and traditional crown to tie back to the game of basketball, and most importantly, the core focus of competition and crowning a champion.
2 – The Sun and Storm have met two times already during the first half of the 2021 WNBA season. The Storm won both games, with the first win coming in overtime, 90-87, on May 28. Seattle took the next meeting, 89-66, at Mohegan Sun Arena on June 13
5 – Five players in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game have played in the WNBA for at least a decade. From Seattle, Sue Bird (18th year) and Epiphanny Prince (12th year) have the most tenure. Briann January (13th year), DeWanna Bonner (12th year) and Jasmine Thomas (11th year) have the longest tenure in the WNBA among Connecticut‘s players.
6 – Six players from each team competing in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship played in the 2021 WNBA AT&T All-Star Game. Connecticut players DeWanna Bonner, Brionna Jones and Jonquel Jones helped lead Team WNBA to victory over the U.S. Women’s National Team, who are currently competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Storm players Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd were also WNBA All-Stars and are all key members of the U.S. team.
11.1 – The number of rebounds per game Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones is averaging thus far this season is 11.1. Jones, who led the league in rebounding in 2019 and 2017, is making a case for MVP, leading the league in rpg once again.
20.6 – The number of points per game Seattle’s Breanna Stewart is averaging in 2021 is 20.6, third-best in the league. Stewart was the league’s MVP in 2018 and the WNBA Finals MVP in 2018 and 2020.
60 – Sixty total Commissioner’s Cup games played across the league to determine who would compete in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game. Each team played 10 games against intra-conference rivals that counted toward Cup play.
500k/30k/10k/5k – The total Commissioner’s Cup prize pool is $500,000. Members of the winning team will be able to earn $30,000 per player, while those on the runner-up team will have an opportunity to earn $10,000 per player. An additional $5,000 will be awarded to the MVP of the Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game.
For more information, visit WNBA.com.