“Expect Great” from the WNBA Playoffs

This time of year, I frequently find myself having to explain why I’d rather stay home and watch the WNBA than go to dinner or a movie or a bar — even if someone else pays. I usually say something like, “It’s a group of captivating, athletic women in tank tops getting all sweaty and physical with each other — why wouldn’t I want to watch?”

And that’s true, to be sure; but the main reason I can hardly bear to take a potty break during a WNBA game? Passion. These women love basketball and play with everything they have. They put their hearts, minds and bodies into the game and it’s a joy to watch.

Several years ago, then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to a WNBA Women’s Achievement Luncheon. She told the women how jealous she was of them to get to play basketball. Rice, you see, figure skated — one of the few sports in which women could compete before Title IX changed women’s sports.

“I envied [WNBA players], playing a sport in which you can actually sweat and grimace when something goes wrong. In skating, even after the most humiliating and painful falls you were expected to get up and smile,” she told Slate.com. “In women’s basketball, you can look like what you do is hard and takes great athleticism. And I love the fact that these women work as a team — learning that you are only as good as the person next to you in the trenches.”

The chemistry that makes a women’s basketball team great is more of a rush for me than any lesbian subtext in a show like Rizzoli & Isles. I don’t care if the players are lesbian or straight or bi — seeing women play ball with that much passion is pure sex.

There, I said it.

This year, the Seattle Storm barely missed breaking the Houston Comets’ record for the best season in WNBA history. They are the No. 1 seed in the West with the Phoenix Mercury nipping at their heels at No. 2. As of Wednesday, LA, San Antonio and Minnesota are tied for the other two playoff spots and, honestly, it’s a toss-up. All three teams play Friday, BTW.

In the East, the teams are set: the Indiana Fever, NY Liberty, Washington Mystics and Atlanta Dream have playoff spots, but the seeds are in contention. The seeds matter because Nos. 1 and 2 get to start on their home courts. I think Indiana will grab No. 1, but its loss to New York this week took away the edge.

We’ll have more playoff news, plus a look at some of the players to watch, next week. Meanwhile, give us your thoughts on the playoff race. And if you end up with an extra ticket to the WNBA championships, you know where to find me.

AfterEllen.com is a sponsor of the WNBA "Score Your Seats Sweepstakes," and you can enter now to win airfare and hotel accommodations for two in the host
city of the 2010 WNBA Championship in September, as well as two tickets to Game 3 in the Finals.

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