Adam Silver, NBA has WNBA Commissioner’s Cup to thank for In-Season Tournament

Photo Credit: Akiem Bailum

The 2023-24 NBA season is the first season that has featured its In-Season Tournament. 

Last night in the Finals of said In-Season Tournament in Las Vegas, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers with the final being 123-109. 

And the Lake Show got plenty of contributions from a number of notable names. Anthony Davis finished with 41 points and 20 rebounds. Austin Reaves added 28 points to the Los Angeles’ cause. Of course LeBron James was going to get his – 24 points and 11 rebounds. In addition to the 13 points the Lakers got from D’Angelo Russell. 

Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin each had 20 points. Aaron Nesmith finished with 15. It was a 13 point performance for former New York Knick Obi Toppin. Isaiah Jackson tallied 10. 

Already, the NBA’s In-Season Tournament is being praised for how much of a success it was in terms of television ratings and fan interest. NBA commissioner Adam Silver ought to do a press conference and thank one entity in particular for why the In-Season Tournament even became a thing in the first place. 

The WNBA. 

The NBA’s In-Season Tournament is completely inspired by the format the WNBA has used for its Commissioner’s Cup the past several seasons. In fact, the WNBA and NBA bounce so many ideas off of each other we’re surprised the MNBA did not simply decide to call its version the “Commissioner’s Cup” as well as opposed to the more generic and milquetoast “In-Season Tournament.” 

The $500,000 in prize money certainly helps as well. That is $30,000 for each player on the winning team and $10,000 for each player on the losing team.

The Commissioner’s Cup was supposed to start in 2020 but was shelved until 2021 due to the pandemic forcing the W into the bubble. The inaugural year of said Commissioner’s Cup saw the Seattle Storm defeat the Connecticut Sun in its finals – Breanna Stewart was named MVP. 

The following year, the Las Vegas Aces defeated the Chicago Sky in the Commissioner’s Cup final with Chelsea Gray being named MVP. 

Last season – as many predicted – the Commissioner’s Cup final was contested between the Aces and New York Liberty with the Lib prevailing over Vegas in Vegas’ own building. Jonquel Jones was named MVP. 

We lambast the NBA for needing to invest more of its billions of dollars into the W – but it has no problems lifting ideas – such as the Commissioner’s Cup – from the WNBA. 

The NBA’s In-Season Tournament was established for one primary reason – to hype up interest in the men’s Association in the early portion of the season. 

Those at the NBA headquarters in New York City understand that the start of the season is completely obscured not only by the WNBA playoffs and Finals but also the NFL and college football being in full swing. 

The NBA understands that interest in its sport reaches its peak at only two points during the season – Christmas Day and All-Star weekend. And in the case of Christmas, even the NFL is encroaching on NBA territory because football cannot let anyone else have anything.

The one-two punch of college football’s bowl season plus the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl completely obscure the NBA prior to All-Star weekend. The period of the NBA season post All-Star weekend is completely obscured by college basketball getting closer and closer to March Madness. 

Once the tournaments have concluded and nets have been cut down, the NBA finally has a chance to breathe. And even the start of the NBA playoffs is somewhat obscured by the build-up to the NFL draft. 

The Association needed something – anything – to get casual fans interest in its sport prior to when Santa Claus jumps into our chimneys and leaves A’ja Wilson jerseys, Sabrina Ionescu jerseys, Aliyah Boston jerseys, the Wilson WNBA basketball and merchandise from Playa Society, BreakingT and Klever Shirtz under folks’ trees. 

And of course, we leave the cookies and milk to keep St. Nick well-fed during his worldwide trek. 

But for many years, despite getting so much inspo from the W for its ideas, the NBA has consistently left nothing more than coal in the WNBA’s stocking when it is deserving of an entire bouquet of flowers from FTD. 

The main story that got casuals talking when the In-Season Tournament became a thing were the unique designs of the courts. Silver has already said those courts will return for next year’s In-Season Tournament. He even mentioned doing something similar for the Finals. 

Plenty of fans probably simply want the old script Finals logo back but we digress – the Washington Wizards court logo gave us heavy Liberty vibes.

Adam Silver and the NBA striking gold with the In-Season Tournament is a great thing for the Association. But when Silver does an upcoming press conference thanking individuals and entities for its success, it better send those flowers in the direction of Cathy Engelbert and the WNBA. 

And more robust investment. And sweeten the thanks with some Edible Arrangements.