Chat With WNBA President Donna Orender
Feb. 27, 2008
From her appearances at NBA All-Star in New Orleans to watching over offseason trades and free agent deals, it's been a busy couple of weeks for the WNBA president.
And with the WNBA Draft set for April 9 and Opening Day 2008 steadily approaching, it's time again to chat. So send in your questions now as WNBA President Donna Orender chats live on Wednesday, February 27, at 2 p.m. ET.
Moderator (2:01 PM)
Donna is just about ready to roll. Keep sending in those questions, and she'll get to as many as she can.
Yolanda Spring Valley, NY
Hi Donna, I would like to know how did you feel when Candice Parker of Tennessee decided to pursue her career in the WNBA? Is this the start of the WNBA allowing players to leave the collegiate level early? Thank you, Yolanda
Donna Orender (2:07 PM)
Hello one and all... the line-up today is fast and furious. Glad to be hearing from so many of you and will do my best to answer as many questions as I can in the time allotted.... so Yolanda from Spring Valley coming to you first.
Donna Orender (2:09 PM)
The anticipation around Candace Parker deciding her basketball future has been tremendous. The elegance of her game and maturity is a great indicator of the talent to come to this league and how superior basketball is going to drive our business onward and upward. We eagerly look forward to her arrival but of course wish her, Coach Summitt and her teammates success during the remainder of their season.
Laura Thompson-Charlotte NC
Hi Donna I'm so happy for the many Atlanta/Georgia fan's! I for one will be traveling to Atlanta for their first historic home game. You see I'm from Charlotte, and even though it's about a 4 1/2 hr drive I can't wait to go! I haven't seen a WNBA in person since the Sting left our city, so I'm looking forward to it. Will you attend? If so hope to see you there!
Donna Orender (2:11 PM)
Hi Laura, I too am looking forward to the home opener in Atlanta on May 23. It will be a great event for the city who continues to embrace the Dream and of course the league. Coach Meadors has done a great job in the expansion draft and we expect great things.. See you there.
Patrick Sheehy (Seattle, WA)
Just wanted to say thanks for your support keeping the Storm in Seattle, we are looking forward to the Board of Governors formal vote making the sale to Force 10 official! We look forward to many more seasons of exciting basketball here in the Pacific NW.
Donna Orender (2:13 PM)
Dear Patrick, Thanks to you and all of your fellow citizens for their support. It's been an amazing show of how the WNBA can so powerfully connect with a city. The new ownership group will be formidable and with a new coach and now Swin joing the Storm, I am excited about what is happening up there in your great city.
kevin (macon ga)
What's the biggest challenge facing the WNBA in the near future?
Donna Orender (2:17 PM)
Kevin, How are you? You are a great fan!! Thanks for that. Forgive my optimism, but I just see a ton of opportunity. I see a league that will continue to rise on great basketball that is getting better all the time. If you compare WNBA basketball to NBA basketball, you will see comparable points per minute and shooting percentages.... While our points are achieved a bit differently, the pace and skill level is first class. As you and your fellow fans continue to support the league and the buzz continues to grow around the growth that we are seeing -- such as in Atlanta -- the opportunity is up. Do you have your season tickets yet, Kevin? If you don't, then getting you to take the plunge is my biggest challenge.
Leslie Wilhelm, Falls Church VA
Donna,thanks for being an available president. I look forward to seeing you at a Mystics game this summer. Any feelings for how the Olympics will go this year?
Donna Orender (2:20 PM)
Leslie, I enjoy talking to you and our fans. The Mystics are dealing these days. Nice to see Nakia staying and Alana. I'm big fans of both. The arena should be energetic!! I will see you there.
Clay Bennett San Francisco CA
Donna, what will it take to get a Team in the Bay Area someday?
Donna Orender (2:22 PM)
Clay, Your name has a familiar ring to it... It's the name of a great businessman we are fortunate to have a relationship with. The Bay Area would be a terrific WNBA market. It has all of the elements that we hold in high regard in determining a successful team. Identifying an ownership group would be our next step.
Jose , San Antonio, TX
I would like to see an offcial WNBA video game. Not a NBA game with a few WNBA players, but an official WNBA live 20_ _ or WNBA 2K_. Are we close to seeing this happen or do we still have a long way to go until we can see WNBA at gamestop or target, ect.
Donna Orender (2:23 PM)
Jose, Me too! And many others would agree, for that matter. Send a letter to Electronic Arts and let them know how you feel. -d
Jay (San Fransisco, CA)
Donna, Do you ever think we can get back to having the draft on a weekend? I have to continue to play sick ;-D . Plus what do you think o fthe recent trades and who are some of your favorite college players?
Donna Orender (2:25 PM)
Jay, We have made the decision to hold the draft in conjunction with the women's NCAA championship. It looks like you may need some more sick days. Regarding my favortie college players, I love all athletes who have a passion for their game. I have been fortunate to see all levels play this year and without wanting to side-step your question, there are many players that I love to watch.
Carol Phoenix, AZ
Hi Donnna! No question, just a comment and your thoughts are appreciated. With the draft this year, it seems the talent is deep. But, as we look ahead, it seems the skillset of talent in upcoming years is awesome as well. Your thoughts as to the upcoming talents in years to come? Thanks
Donna Orender (2:26 PM)
Better and better.....this is just the beginning. The talent pool is deep and broad and the game is advancing. It's an exciting time for women's basketball and it's only going to get more exciting!
Maliq Atlanta, Georgia
Hi Donna, I just want to know know if you watched the uconn-lsu on monday night. If you did did u enjoy it and what do you think of UCONN's freshman Maya Moore? Hope you enjoy this year's WNBA season as much as I will. Thanks, Maliq
Donna Orender (2:27 PM)
Maliq, she is a fantastic player and playing for a fantastic coach!!!
i was wondering if you could seriously answer the question:who do you think will be the top three draft picks? (i have two in mind.lol)
Donna Orender (2:28 PM)
I will leave all of the guessing up to you... It's what makes the draft so engaging.
Candra, Raleigh, NC
With the trade of Swin Cash to Seattle, Marie Ferdinand to LA, and Katie Douglas to Indiana who do you think would make a big impact on their new teams?
Donna Orender (2:29 PM)
Candra, I think all of them well. I have been in touch with all of these teams and each one of them beleives that these great veteran players will make an immediate difference... we will see soon enough
Is there a copy of the new CBA that fans can view?
Donna Orender (2:29 PM)
No, sorry. Labor issues are kept private.
Loyal season ticket holders want to know what does the future really look like for the Houston Comets? It seems they are on shaky ground since the new owner, new coach and losing season. Signing aging, former Sparks players and moving out of Toyota Center might be seen as a sign of trouble as well. Are the Comets on the right track?
Donna Orender (2:32 PM)
Hi Tracy, Thanks for your question. I have been to Houston recently and believe that it is a great city that absolutely values the Comets. Hilton Koch is an owner that is dedicating his time, energy and money to build on what has been and will continue to be a great franchise. Coach Karleen is a very experienced coach and I support her 1000 percent. I actually thought the Mwadi move was a good one. She can flat out shoot and score!! The Reliant Center is another great move and one that will prove over the short term a great destination for the Comets fans.
Todd Nelkin- Houston, TX
I love the WNBA- I am a Comets season ticket holder and even got to meet you at a Comets game two years ago- I was wondering if down the road, will the WNBA ever return to a city in which it has left- ie, Cleveland, Miami,Orlando Portland- I just want to know in case a team moves in the future- does that mean good bye forever...take care..Todd
Donna Orender (2:33 PM)
I would not preclude a return to a former city.
Jami Townsend, Sacramento
I'm a big fan of the WNBA and I commend you for your enthusiastic and successful business model approach to improving the league. The talent on display in the WNBA has grown exponentially since the leagues inception. My main concern at this point is the officiating. It seems rather inconsistent to me. On far too many occasions the officials have called the games extremely close and, therefore, there is absolutely no flow to the game. Its frustrating for the players and its extremely frustrating for the fans who enjoyed the fast-paced game. I don't think the players should get away with murder, but there should be a happy medium.
Donna Orender (2:36 PM)
Jami, Totally agree on the happy medium goal. We remain focused on the quality of our officiating, training, review and results. I also understand the extreme emotionality that fans have during a game and recognize that the same exact call in one arena can be cheered and in another booed. We should all be assured that the WNBA has the highest level of quality control to insure the best possible product on the court.
Ryan F. (Tiburon, Ca)
Hi Donna! You sure have done a great job with everything and every fan I've met appreciates your work. So I wonder... Will we ever see a Donna Orender Bobblehead doll?
Donna Orender (2:36 PM)
Not that I am aware of... though my kids would have a field day with that...
Lynn, Leesburg FL
Ms. Orender you are doing a great job.If you are 22 years of age and wanted to be invited to Pre-Draft camp. How would you go about that. Thanks
Donna Orender (2:37 PM)
Lynn, As a player or a fan?
Marsha, Wash. D.C.
Just a quick note to say thank you for all the incredible, hard work you do for the league!! Your marketing savvy & great personality have propelled the WNBA into the limelite; so much so that the hardcore male b-ball fans I know are grilling me about this game or that player they happened to catch on ESPN, both on tv & online! Keep up the great work!! Go Mystics!!
Donna Orender (2:38 PM)
Marsha, So nice of you to pass along these very nice comments. Let's get those guys to a game. Invite them... we'll sit with them. I always love the first timers' amazement at just how fun and entertaining the WNBA is.
Megan (Dover, NH)
Hi Donna! I was just wondering what career path you had to take to get to be president of the WNBA? Do you enjoy this job?
Donna Orender (2:40 PM)
Megan, I love this job - and I'm a big believer that you should have passion for the work you do. I have been very fortunate to be able to follow mine. This job was not a destination that I planned, but somehow through the many opportunities I had in my career, this is where I've ended up. Regarding a career path of your own... work hard and love what you do... the rest should follow.
What are your thoughts on the Katie Douglas-Tamika Whitmore trade? I'm a big fan of KT and I'm disappointed she's leaving Whalen, Coach T, and Connecticut, but she seems to be pretty happy to be home again. With Catch and KT playing along side each other I don't see many ways to stop the Fever....
Donna Orender (2:41 PM)
Dear Emily, The Fever have definitely improved and I was in contact with Coach Dunn just yesterday. She is fired up. I'm happy for KT, as she really wanted to go closer to home... and that's where she is headed.
Barry (Phoenix, Arizona)
It seems each year the WNBA "tweaks" the rules, whether switching to quarters, changing the shot clock, possession rules, etc. Is this an annual focus or point of emphasis or something that just evolves throughout the course of a season?
Donna Orender (2:43 PM)
Hi Barry, Is this the Barry i have had lunch with. Forgive me if it's not. And I do realize there are a lot of Barrys in Phoenix... We have a competition committee consisting of GMs and coaches that evaluates the game all season long. At an annual meeting, observations and evaluations are shared along with suggestions on how to improve the game.
Nikki - Stafford, VA
With Candance Parker leaving college early, who do you think would be a better fit for LA, her or Fowles? Also if you were a head coach who would you pick based their talent alone Parker or Fowles? Look forward to the great season. Nikki
Donna Orender (2:43 PM)
Nikki, Better question is for you... who do you think?
Chris, West Haven CT
With the popularity of womens basketball in Tennessee, has there been talk about possibly having a team there?
Donna Orender (2:44 PM)
Yes, Chris, there has been talk about Tennessee....
Hey Donna, This draft may include players in the third round being drafted making a huge contribution to their teams as well as the WNBA. I was wondering if this year's draft will be the biggest and deepest you have ever seen in the WNBA?
Donna Orender (2:46 PM)
I agree, and yes... I do think that this is the deepest.... so far.... But wait till next year... :)
joe eden prairie, mn
have you ever thought of expanding the draft to 4 to 5 rounds.
Donna Orender (2:47 PM)
Not really... not yet, anyway.
Ryan F. (Tiburon, Ca)
Hey Donna, so many of the players have amazingly entertaining and engaging personalities, yet last season, we didn't even hear them talk. The star players just stood there while their stats and highlights were superimposed in the background. Do you foresee any commercials this year which incorporate more of the player personalities?
Donna Orender (2:49 PM)
There are some in the works... but there's no confirmation just yet. How do you size up the fantasy league this year?
kevin (macon ga)
Of course I have my season tickets. ;-) Do you really think the comparison to NBA ball is fair? The games are so different.
Donna Orender (2:52 PM)
Kevin, Fair.... I actually do think it's fair, yes... in that there has to be a way to demonstrate the high skill level and performance in the women's game. Those who may be naysayers use the men's game as a benchmark... hence it's a fair comparison. I can argue that it really tilts to the women's favor as our shooting percentage does not include dunks... yet.
Hi Donna, I was wondering if there will be any type of pre-Olympic all-star game this year or will we have to wait until next year for the next all-star game? I think Seattle would be an awesome spot for the next game!! eyar
Donna Orender (2:52 PM)
I agree... Seattle would be a tremendous destination for All-Star...
DICK WETHERSFIELD, CT
Since there is a problem every year with the players unable to come back in time for the start of the season because they have committments overseas, why can't the WNBA season start a few weeks later and just go into September each year. Right now, the exhibition games are a joke because most of the players on the early season roster won't even be on the teams when the players return. Also, the teams have to spend money to sign players just to have enough player for training camp.
Donna Orender (2:54 PM)
Dick, The players are always back for the season... Yes, some come later to training camp than others... but they make it here and in shape.
I really appreciate the marketing efforts towards dads and daughters. I have been going to basketball games with my dad since I was 8 or 9 and only wish the league existed back then. (Yes, we still go to games together as STHs).
Donna Orender (2:54 PM)
KJ... thanks... I like going with my dad, too.
Cindy (Todd Mission, TX)
hey Donna, we have a great start going for season 11 with the CBA signed and excitement already building up. Will you be traveling to all 14 cities during this season? I wonder if you;d consider doing a few of those Discover card meet and greets (Fan Lounge, I think they are called). I would love a chance to hear you speak and answer questions in such an intimate setting.
Donna Orender (2:55 PM)
Cindy, Of course I will be in all 14 markets at some point this year. Generally the teams do arrange for a meet and greet and do hope that you will be there when I am.
Barry (Phoenix, Arizona)
Yes, this is the Barry you had lunch with in Phoenix. When are you coming back to hang with the Mercury Brigade? Dinner and drinks are on me.
Donna Orender (2:57 PM)
Barry, I will be there for Opening Day, of course!!!
Last time I talked to you, I asked how to pursue my dreams of getting behind the scenes in the league in a position like your job and you suggested I decide on an area (media,management...). Since then, I've looked into my options and decided I'm interested in a sports managment major (same as Candace Parker)...what's the next step?
Donna Orender (2:59 PM)
Emily, I would research schools that offer that as a major -- we know Tennessee does. Also, look for internships and anyway you can get practical experience. Good luck! -d
Marie (St. Louis, MO)
We know you're behind the league 100%, but do you have season tickets for any of the teams? If so, which teams and why'd you choose those?
Donna Orender (3:00 PM)
Marie, Of course I have season tickets for each and every team -- the Presidency has its privileges. That said, I have also invested my own personal dollars in purchasing team tickets. Presidency has its expenses, as well.
Donna Orender (3:02 PM)
You all have given me wonderful assignments, so it's time to get back to the WNBA business at hand. Thanks for all of your questions and I look forward to the next time. Probably at the draft down in Florida. For this coming season, buy tickets if you haven't... and sell tickets if you have!!! Best, Donna