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The WNBA Finals are the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the conclusion of the league's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002. Starting in 2016, Verizon is the official sponsor.

The series is played between the winners of the playoff semifinals. At the conclusion of the championship round, the winner of the WNBA Finals is presented the championship trophy. The WNBA Finals has been played at the conclusion of every WNBA season in history, the first being held in 1997.

Since 2005, the winner of the WNBA Finals has been determined through a 2–2–1 format. The first, second, and fifth games of the series are played at the arena of the team who earned home court advantage by having the better record during the regular season. The only exception was in 2020, when the entire season, including the playoffs, was held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida due to COVID-19. Even then, the 2–2–1 format was used to determine the designated home team for each game.

History

The WNBA's playoff format has changed several times in the league's history. From 1997 to 1998, a single championship game was held to decide the champion. In 1998, after the addition of two teams, the WNBA Finals were turned into a best-of-three games series. The finale series was known as the WNBA Championship from 1997 to 2001, before changing to reflect its NBA counterpart. In 2005, the WNBA Finals adopted a best-of-five format. In 2016, the WNBA changed to its current playoff format seeding teams #1 through #8 regardless of conference, making it possible for two Eastern Conference or two Western Conference teams to meet in the Finals.

Year Winner Result Runner-up Finals MVP
1997 Houston Comets 1–0 New York Liberty Cynthia Cooper
1998 Houston Comets 2–1 Phoenix Mercury Cynthia Cooper
1999 Houston Comets 2–1 New York Liberty Cynthia Cooper
2000 Houston Comets 2–0 New York Liberty Cynthia Cooper
2001 Los Angeles Sparks 2–0 Charlotte Sting Lisa Leslie
2002 Los Angeles Sparks 2–0 New York Liberty Lisa Leslie
2003 Detroit Shock 2–1 Los Angeles Sparks Ruth Riley
2004 Seattle Storm 2–1 Connecticut Sun Betty Lennox
2005 Sacramento Monarchs 3–1 Connecticut Sun Yolanda Griffith
2006 Detroit Shock 3–2 Sacramento Monarchs Deanna Nolan
2007 Phoenix Mercury 3–2 Detroit Shock Cappie Pondexter
2008 Detroit Shock 3–0 San Antonio Silver Stars Katie Smith
2009 Phoenix Mercury 3–2 Indiana Fever Diana Taurasi
2010 Seattle Storm 3–0 Atlanta Dream Lauren Jackson
2011 Minnesota Lynx 3–0 Atlanta Dream Seimone Augustus
2012 Indiana Fever 3–1 Minnesota Lynx Tamika Catchings
2013 Minnesota Lynx 3–0 Atlanta Dream Maya Moore
2014 Phoenix Mercury 3–0 Chicago Sky Diana Taurasi
2015 Minnesota Lynx 3–2 Indiana Fever Sylvia Fowles
2016 Los Angeles Sparks 3–2 Minnesota Lynx Candace Parker
2017 Minnesota Lynx 3–2 Los Angeles Sparks Sylvia Fowles
2018 Seattle Storm 3–0 Washington Mystics Breanna Stewart
2019 Washington Mystics 3–2 Connecticut Sun Emma Meesseman
2020 Seattle Storm 3–0 Las Vegas Aces Breanna Stewart
2021 Chicago Sky 3–1 Phoenix Mercury Kahleah Copper

Highlights

  • In 2001, the #4 seed Charlotte Sting was the lowest seed to make the WNBA Finals.
  • The 2003 Finals was best known for rekindling a heated rivalry between the two teams' head coaches, Los Angeles Sparks head coach Michael Cooper and former Detroit Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer. Both coaches were fierce NBA competitors who played in the NBA Finals against each other in 1988 and 1989.
  • 2006 marked the first time that a #1 seed did not participate in the WNBA Finals. Detroit and Sacramento were both #2 seeds.
  • The New York Liberty have the most Finals appearances (4) without winning a championship.
  • The Minnesota Lynx are the 6th team to win multiple championships (following Houston, Los Angeles, Detroit, Phoenix and Seattle, respectively).
  • 2006 marked the first time that the team with the best point-differential in the regular-season did not win the WNBA Finals or even advance to the WNBA finals. The Connecticut Sun had the best point differential in '06 but was ousted by the Shock in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • The Detroit Shock hosted the three largest crowds in Finals History (22,076 in Game 3 of 2003 WNBA Finals, 19,671 in Game 5 of 2006 WNBA Finals and 22,076 in Game 5 of the 2007 WNBA Finals)
  • Only four Eastern Conference franchises have won the WNBA Finals: the 1997 Houston Comets (who moved to the Western Conference the following year); the Detroit Shock (who are now in the Western Conference first as Tulsa, now as Dallas), the Indiana Fever in 2012, and the Washington Mystics in 2019.
  • The 2007 game-five win by the Phoenix Mercury marked the first time in WNBA history that a team won the Finals while playing on their opponent's home court.
  • In 2008 the San Antonio Silver Stars became the first team in the history of the WNBA Finals to be swept in a five-game series losing to the Detroit Shock.
  • The 2009 Finals series saw around a 60% increase in viewership from the previous season's series.
  • The 2011 WNBA Finals was the first coached by two women.
  • In 2014, the Chicago Sky became the first team to appear in the WNBA Finals with a sub-.500 record.
  • In 2016, the Los Angeles Sparks won by one point despite a later announcement by the WNBA that officials missed an earlier shot-clock violation at 1:14, which should not have counted.

Finals appearances

Finals Team Wins Losses Pct. Years Won Years Lost
6 Minnesota Lynx 4 2 .667 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 2012, 2016
5 Los Angeles Sparks 3 2 .600 2001, 2002, 2016 2003, 2017
4 Houston Comets2 4 0 1.000 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 None
4 Seattle Storm 4 0 1.000 2004, 2010, 2018, 2020 None
4 Detroit Shock3 3 1 .750 2003, 2006, 2008 2007
4 Phoenix Mercury 3 1 .750 2007, 2009, 2014 1998
4 New York Liberty 0 4 .000 None 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002
3 Indiana Fever 1 2 .333 2012 2009, 2015
3 Atlanta Dream 0 3 .000 None 2010, 2011, 2013
2 Connecticut Sun 0 3 .000 None 2004, 2005, 2019
2 Sacramento Monarchs4 1 1 .500 2005 2006
2 Washington Mystics 1 1 .500 2019 2018
2 Las Vegas Aces5 0 2 .000 None 2008, 2020
1 Charlotte Sting1 0 1 .000 None 2001
1 Chicago Sky 0 1 .000 None 2014
  • 1Folded following the 2006 season.
  • 2Folded following the 2008 season.
  • 3Relocated to Tulsa following the 2009 season & Dallas following the 2015 season.
  • 4Folded following the 2009 season.
  • 5Includes one Finals appearance as the San Antonio Silver Stars. Relocated to Las Vegas following the 2017 season.
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