NYFW x WNBA: Betnijah Laney understands the assignment – on and off the court

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

The past two seasons have underscored how great of a player Betnijah Laney is. And while the Atlanta Dream and New York Liberty have managed to experience that first hand, one has to feel for teams such as the Chicago Sky and Indiana Fever for not recognizing that they had a guaranteed 20 points sitting right there on their bench.

What was the loss of the Sky, Fever and Dream has become the Liberty’s gain – and New York is once again a playoff contender in large part because of No. 44.

But – as her off-court portfolio displays, she is marketing herself away from the court as well – and wants to take on more projects outside of basketball.

Case in point of when Laney was part of a recent USA Basketball media availability session from one of its recent training camps. Team USA, defending champions, will likely have a few more of these in advance of the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Australia.

Recently it was announced that Laney as well as the Minnesota Lynx’s Napheesa Collier will be part of New York Fashion Week at its Dur Doux show.

And per that same media availability session, she would also like to be part of Met Gala. Laney, as many Libs have done before her in the past, not only dons the seafoam color, but also immerses herself into everything New York City has to offer.

Met Gala takes place on May 2nd – five days before the Liberty open the season at home against the team a short Interstate 95 north up from Gotham – the Connecticut Sun. If that is not an opportunity to promote the upcoming #SeafoamSZN 2022 at Barclays Center, one does not know what is.

That Dur Doux show, per the New York Fashion Week, slated to feature Laney and Collier, is set to take place at 12 p.m. on Sunday, February 13. There will also be several points during NYFW where fashion journalism is highlighted as well as Black representation in the industry.

This is far from the only time that she has displayed her exemplary modeling talents. When she was with the Sky, she did plenty of work with Chicago-based Model Atelier.

In addition …

It continues to be said and written about but what she and countless others throughout the WNBA are doing through what they do off-court is continuing to broaden the league’s reach past the confines of basketball fans.

Liz Cambage has done this as well with her DJ’ing and modeling work. A’ja Wilson has done so via appearing in music videos. Natasha Cloud and Layshia Clarendon have done so through their work in the political arena. Candace Parker and Chiney Ogwumike have done so through their work as broadcasters.

Angel McCoughtry has done so as a business owner. Essence Carson, Courtney Williams and Jantel Lavender have done so with their work as musicians. Aerial Powers has done so via how well-known she is within the video gaming realm. DiJonai Carrington is also getting into modeling – she recently did a Savage X Fenty shoot. And we have gladly highlighted what many of these women have been doing over the years here at Beyond The W and will continue to do so.

A constant debate happens on social media about methods to grow the game – how many of the WNBA’s best and brightest have used their hoops platforms to translate into other areas of pop culture does just that since it expands one’s name into another lane and draws new fans to the W.

One can say that Laney has found her … well, lane that she has been emphasizing ever since she first got into the WNBA. It helps that she has teammates such as Richards who also have similar interests. And it helps that with New York’s place in the world as an international fashion hub that she is taking full advantage of her newfound Gotham surroundings to grow her brand on and off the court.

Laney, Collier and countless others understand that in today’s sporting climate, fans want to learn more about athletes as people since we are doing a better job of separating the person from the professional athlete. After all, one can remove a Liberty or Lynx uniform, but being a confident Black woman is a round-the-clock identity.

Among the many ways there are to grow the game, Laney is a model for how to do just that.