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First WNBA Championship Played

Basketball On This Day

On this day, in 1997 the first WNBA Championship was played


  August 30, 2997

Sport: Basketball


The Houston Comets defeated the New York Liberty in the first WNBA Championship game, recording a 65-51 victory at The Summit — their one-time homecourt in Houston, Texas — on Aug. 30, 1997.  The arena was renamed the Compaq Center in 1998 and is now the Lakewood Church Central Campus, but the memories of that championship remain. 

The Comets’ Cynthia Cooper had 25 points, including 14 in the second half, and Tina Thompson added 18, but the key to the victory was a 9-minute, 24-second stretch of the second half in which the smothering Houston defense held New York to just four points. Kym Hampton led the Liberty with 13 points and 13 rebounds. 

Cooper was named WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player, and the Van Chancellor-coached Comets finished the season with a league-best record of 20-10. The Liberty were coached by Nancy Darsch and had an overall record of 18-12.

The inaugural WNBA season consisted of eight teams and the playoffs seeded the top four teams in the league for single-game semifinals and a championship — a significant difference from the current best-of-five playoff format used for the final two rounds. Top-seeded Houston reached the championship with a 70-54 victory over the No. 4 seed Charlotte Sting, and No. 2 seed New York defeated the No. 3 seed Phoenix Mercury 59-41 in the semifinals.

The Comets became the WNBA’s first dynasty, winning the league title every season from 1998-2000. Despite its meteoric initial success, Houston eventually flamed out and the league disbanded the team after the 2008 season.



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