The WNBA announced Wednesday that Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles and Seattle guard Sue Bird, who will both retire at the end of this season, will be co-captains along with Las Vegas forward A’ja Wilson and the Seattle forward Breanna Stewart for the All-Star Game on July 10 (ABC, 1 p.m. ET) in Chicago.
The league also said Phoenix center Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February, will be an honorary all-star starter. Griner is a seven-time All-Star.
This will be the 13th All-Star Game for Bird and the eighth for Fowles. Wilson and Stewart, by virtue of finishing with the most fan votes, will serve as the team’s official co-captains and choose their teams at the WNBA All-Star Team Special Selection. ESPN on July 2 (3 p.m. ET). They will choose first from the remaining group of eight starters, then from the group of 12 reserves.
In addition to the aforementioned four, the other starters are Connecticut forward Jonquel Jones, Los Angeles forward Nneka Ogwumike, Chicago center forward Candace Parker and Sabrina Ionescu of New York, and Las Vegas teammates Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young, all guards. This is the first All-Star selection for former No. 1 picks Ionescu (2020), Young (2019), and Plum (2017).
Fowles and Bird will also serve as co-captains; Bird will be paired with Wilson and Fowles with Stewart.
“For icons like Sylvia and Sue to be voted into the AT&T WNBA All-Star Game as starters in their 15th and 19th seasons, respectively, is extraordinary,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “And when you see the star-studded starting lineups for the first time like Sabrina Ionescu, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young, it only seems fitting that Sylvia and Sue – who said this will be their last season – are joining A’ja and Breanna as co-captains of an All-Star event that will in some ways symbolize the passing of the torch to a new generation of WNBA stars.”
Engelbert added that the league also wanted to honor Griner.
“In every season of Brittney’s career that there was an All-Star Game, she was selected as an All-Star,” Engelbert said. “It’s not hard to imagine that if BG were there with us this season, she would be selected again and would no doubt show off her incredible talents, so it’s only fitting that she is named an honorary starter today and we continue to work on his safe return to the United States.”
Fans accounted for 50% of the vote for the starters, while current WNBA players and a media panel accounted for 25% each. Wilson was the leader in the fan vote, followed by Stewart.
After the votes were tallied, players were ranked by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of three voting groups: fan votes, player votes and media votes. Each player’s score was calculated by averaging their weighted ranking from fan votes, player votes, and media votes. This resulted in four guards and six frontcourt players being named starters. The fan vote served as a tiebreaker for players in a position group with the same score.
While there was good uniformity between fan, media, and player votes, there were also great disparities. Among guards, Bird finished third with fans, seventh with players and ninth with media. Among frontcourt players, Parker was third with fans, seventh with media, and 13th with players.
Among those who didn’t make the starting pool but are expected to be reserves, Phoenix goalie Skylar Diggins-Smith finished third with the media, fourth with the fans and 14th with the players. Dallas guard Arike Ogunbowale finished fourth with media and players and 11th with fans.
The 12 reserves will be voted on by league coaches and announced on Tuesday. Coaches will vote for three guards, five frontcourt players and four players at each position, regardless of conference, and they are not allowed to vote for their own players. If a player cannot participate in the All-Star Game, a replacement will be chosen by Engelbert.