There is a new record holder for the best three-point contest performance in basketball history. Her name is Sabrina Ionescu. The New York Liberty superstar put up 37 points, six more than the previous record Stephen Curry set in 2021, and at one point hit 20 straight shots. In total she went 25 of 27. She was the Human Torch out there. It was incredible theater and the skill on display was unbelievable.
And very few sports fans saw it because the WNBA had the three-point contest take place on a Friday afternoon.
According the WNBA’s official website, the league scheduled the skills competition and three-point contests to begin at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN. On a Friday. In July! And as you can see from the tweet above everything wrapped up by 5:15 p.m. ET.
It’s horrible planning. It makes no sense. It is actually remarkable how poorly-timed it is. It was too late to draw in any lunch break viewers and too early to catch anybody after work on the East Coast. West Coast viewers were basically SOL with everything starting at one in the afternoon. There was zero benefit to the scheduling.
But, in fairness, maybe the WNBA is not to blame. ESPN was the broadcasting network and might’ve had something very important to show that night instead of the three-point contest. However, they did not. Friday night’s 7 p.m. ET slot on the Worldwide Leader was given to the Dallas Mavericks-Indiana Pacers Summer League matchup in which a Mavs player literally scored on his own basket. Given all the lip service about growing the women’s game and experiencing all the benefits that came with the Caitlin Clark-LSU experience, it is pretty surprising that ESPN would be fine with shoving the WNBA ASG activities in arguably the lowest viewership slot of the entire week to broadcast bad NBA basketball.
It isn’t new that women’s sports often get the short end of the stick when it comes to premium broadcast times but this was a layup for both the league and ESPN. Friday was baseball’s first day back from their own All-Star Break and there weren’t many notable primetime matchups. Summer League is fun in theory but everyone gets bored after the first few games and by this point all the star prospects have been shelved for one reason or another. We’re still a month away from football getting any real action on television. It was the perfect opportunity to showcase the best the WNBA has to offer. Yet they bypassed it. For exhibition NBA games featuring guys who largely will never be heard from again.
It’s just disappointing. Ionescu’s historic showing deserved better than this.