The WNBA announced Wednesday that Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles and Seattle guard Sue Bird, who will both retire at the end of this season, along with Las Vegas striker A’ja Wilson and Seattle striker Breanna Stewart for the All-Star League 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 will, by the end of the day with the most votes, be the official team-mates and select their teams during ESPN’s WNBA All-Star Team Selection Special on July 2 (3 p.m. ET). They choose first from the remaining pool of eight starters and then from the pool of 12 reserves.
Along with the aforementioned four, the other starters are Connecticut forward Jonquel Jones, Los Angeles forward Nneka Ogwumike, Chicago forward center 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 chooses Ionescu (2020), Young (2019) and Plum (2017).
Fowles and Bird will also be co-captains; Bird will be paired with Wilson and Fowles with Stewart.
“For icons like Sylvia and Sue to vote in 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 look at the starting line-ups sprinkled with first-time All-Stars like Sabrina Ionescu, Kelsey Plum, and Jackie Young, it just seems like Sylvia and Sue – who have said this will be their last season – join A ‘ yes and Breanna as co-captains for an All-Star event that will in some ways symbolize 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 in which 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 again and without a doubt show off her incredible talents. So, it’s just fitting that she’s called an honor starter today and we continue working on their safe return to the US “
Fans accounted for 50 percent of the vote the starters, while current WNBA players and a media panel accounted for 25 percent each. Wilson was the leader in voting, followed by Stewart.
After votes were counted, players were ranked by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting groups – of votes, player votes and media votes. Each player’s score was calculated by averaging their weighted rank of the fans’ votes, the player’s votes and the media votes. That resulted in four guards and six striker players named as starters. Of votes served as the tiebreaker for players in a position group with the same score.
While there was a fair amount of uniformity between voices of fans, media and player, there were also some major differences. Among guards, Bird finished third with fans, seventh with players and ninth with media. Among frontcourt players, Parker third with fans, seventh with media and 13th with players.
Among those who did not make the starting pool but are expected to be reserves, Phoenix guard Skylar Diggins-Smith was third with the media, fourth with the fans and 14th with the players. Dallas guad Arike Ogunbowale was fourth with the media and players, and 11th with fans.
The 12 reserves will be voted on by the league’s coaches and announced June 28. Coaches will vote for three guards, five frontcourt players and four players at both positions regardless of conference, and they are not allowed to vote for their own players. If a player cannot play in the All-Star Game, a substitute is chosen by Engelbert.