(ATR) Women’s National Basketball Association president Lisa Borders tells Around the Rings she expects an unprecedented sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal for the U.S. women’s team this summer in Rio.
"The team is going for a historic sixth gold medal," she told ATR during a newsmaker luncheon hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on May 18. "Trust and believe when they win that sixth gold that we will use that as a marketing platform for the WNBA."
"All of those players are our players, all of them on that team," she says, including Atlanta Dream forward Angel McCoughtry who attended the luncheon. McCoughtry will be competing in her second Olympics after helping the team earn gold at London 2012.
"We’re very excited that we’ll all be in Rio de Janeiro come August."
Elected as the president of the WNBA in February, Borders says it is hard to no longer cheer openly for the Atlanta Dream now that she must root for everybody.
"I have to sit on my hands when I watch the games now," she says. "This is an incredible market. When you ask what success looks like in the WNBA, the Atlanta Dream represents it."
A former Atlanta City Council president, Borders returned to her hometown to promote the beginning of the WNBA’s 20th season that tipped off May 14.
"This is our 20th season, a remarkable achievement by any standard," she says. "I had a reporter ask me this morning, ‘Aren’t you concerned that the WNBA isn’t further along like your NBA big brother?’ Let me explain this to you, our big brother supports us 1,000 percent. Our commissioner Adam Silver is with us 2,000 percent."
"The NBA is 70 years old. The WNBA is 20 years old. We are both in the basketball business, both in the entertainment business, but they have 50 years on us. If you look at 1966 when the NBA was 20, we are further along in 20 years than our big brother was at the time."
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Olympics coming to the city. Borders says the last Summer Games held in the U.S. absolutely helped drive the initial growth of the WNBA.
"Trust and believe the Olympics helped the league with its launch," she tells ATR. "The gold medal in Atlanta started the incredible Olympic run we are on now."
The U.S. women’s team will seek to continue that run in Rio de Janeiro when the Games begin on Aug. 5.
Written by Kevin Nutley
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