With 12 games to go this regular season, the Dallas Wings appear to be on their way to not only a playoff berth, but a top 4 seed in this season’s postseason.
As of today, if the regular season were to conclude today, the Wings would be the fourth seed. Dallas has a 15-13 record – the same as the Atlanta Dream – even though the Wings have dropped their last two games. One of those was against the Chicago Sky in a contest that saw no shortage of emotion.
But the Wings this weekend apparently made news away from the court as well.
The Wings and their NBA equivalent, the Mavericks, announced a partnership between the two entities where the Mavs would become a sponsor of the WNBA franchise. The signature element of the pact between the Wings and Mavs will see the NBA team’s Girls Empowered by Mavericks logo on the front of Dallas’ Heroine, Explorer and Rebel Edition jerseys.
Prior to this announcement, the Wings did not have a signature jersey sponsor listed the way the New York Liberty have with Webull, the Los Angeles Sparks do with Equitrust, the Chicago Sky have with University of Chicago Medicine or the Atlanta Dream have with Emory Healthcare. To our knowledge this only rings true with one other team – the Las Vegas Aces.
The Washington Mystics’ partnership is with Carmax – also a sponsor of the WNBA & NBA. That of the Connecticut Sun is with Yale New Haven Hospital. The Indiana Fever’s is with Salesforce. The Phoenix Mercury’s is with Fry’s Food Stores as well as PayPal. The Seattle Storm’s is with Providence Swedish Health. The Minnesota Lynx’s is with Mayo Clinic – one that dates back years.
The Wings’ first game with the Mavs-GEM logo was a home contest on Sunday against the Sky. Chicago won the contest by a count of 104-96.
A press conference was held prior to the Wings-Sky get-together that featured a host of Wings and Mavs luminaries. These included Greg Bibb, Latricia Trammell and Amber Cox from the Wings side and Cynt Marshall and Greg Nared representing the Mavericks.
But the reaction from WNBA Twitter appeared to be one of mostly disdain with the primary criticism being that the jerseys are putting the NBA’s Mavericks front and center as opposed to the WNBA’s Wings.
One signature question was asked by many who observed the announcement – how come the Mavs do not update their jerseys to include the logo (or logos) of the WNBA’s Wings. Obviously the Mavericks are in a position where they can draw more eyeballs to Wings games particularly given that the Mavs actually play within the Dallas city limits as opposed to Arlington – where the Wings call home.
This is not the first time that Dallas’ WNBA team has found itself getting flack for a decision centering on its jersey. It was in the 2022 season when Nike, the WNBA’s jersey partner, collaborated with the W for a full revamp of jerseys for all 12 teams. Nike was also busy prior to this season by unveiling new Rebel jerseys for five teams – the Wings as well as the New York Liberty, Washington Mystics, Minnesota Lynx, Indiana Fever.
In 2022, all 12 teams had a “Rebel” jersey which was the equivalent to the “City Edition” jerseys sported by their NBA equivalents or the “City Connect” jerseys that MLB teams now sport from time to time. The Wings’ original Rebel jersey was designed to honor the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
Except one problem – the Women Airforce Service Pilots program excluded Black women. There was no way the Wings or the WNBA was going to get away with that in a league that is mostly Black women.
Between that jersey and the eyebrow-raising “Blocks for the Blue” program the Wings once had, the Dallas front office has been no stranger to off-court public relations pitfalls.
Now there is this latest one involving a jersey designed to plug a partnership between the Wings and Mavs but seems to center the NBA franchise with its logo front and center.
What about having Mark Cuban simply becoming a part-owner of the Wings’ franchise? What about a partnership that would see the Wings play select games at American Airlines Center and getting the team out of the suburbs? What about seeing ex-Mavs greats such as Dirk Nowitzki or Jason Terry become investors in the Wings franchise the way Dwyane Wade recently became for the Chicago Sky?
Look – any partnership between an NBA team and a WNBA team that has the NBA franchise elevate its WNBA sisters can only be a net positive. And Cuban, to his credit, has spoken about WNBA issues in the past. But between having more money go towards the Wings and eventually moving the team to Dallas proper, this is a step in the right direction that should not lose sight of the fact that more certainly can be done.
And given how this year’s rendition of the Wings has soared throughout the 2023 season, there could not be a better time to elevate the presence of Wings players throughout the Dallas community.