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Looking for a word to describe what she sees when looking at the WNBA, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve chose "satisfaction."

Reeve has been in the WNBA since 2001. She worked as an assistant for two teams that no longer exist. She can still remember sitting down with her family, her parents concerned about her career path. You have two college degrees, they said. Is this what you should be doing?


Reeve decided decades ago to cast her lot with the league. Boom or bust. If the league was going to go down, she was going to go with it.

And now, this:

Leaguewide ticket sales are up 93% compared to last year. The WNBA's chief growth officer, Colie Edison, said every team is on track for record attendance. The league is attracting more big-dollar partners, drawing more investment; when the Seattle Storm owners decided to sell a minority stake in the team to finance a new $64 million practice facility, they found the team valued at a rather stunning $151 million, the highest valuation for a women's team anywhere in the world at the time.

The influx of a highly touted, generationally talented — and avidly followed — rookie class led by Caitlin Clark has only made things bigger.

So, searching for a word:

"It's satisfaction," said Reeve, whose team opens regular-season play Tuesday night at Seattle. "We've been saying for years this trajectory was possible. … Now, finally, is this our time?"

Lynx President of Business Operations Carley Knox is convinced this is a movement encompassing all women's sports. But basketball?

The team puts together five-year plans with goals. It has already blown through 2024 revenue goals and is into 2025. Already a top four team in the league in terms of attendance, revenue is up 38% over last year, ticket sales up 50%.

At the Lynx's preseason opener at Target Center, the team sold three times more merchandise than expected. The Los Angeles Sparks have already moved some games, including one against Clark and Indiana, from Long Beach State's 4,200-seat Walter Pyramid to 19,079-seat Arena, and games against Dallas and the Lynx have also been moved to the bigger space. The Lynx have opened ticket sales for the upper bowl at Target Center for the two times Indiana comes to Minnesota.

"We always thought this would happen if you treated women's sports the right way," Knox said. "To be able to watch it, having media covering it, more corporate sponsors — the rate of growth is incredible."

There is no question Clark and the rest of the 2024 rookie class — which includes Chicago's Angel Reese — have an impact.

In the NCAA tournament, Iowa's rematch with LSU in the Elite Eight set a record with 12.3 million viewers. Days later, Iowa's game against Connecticut broke that at 14.2 million. And then Iowa's title game with South Carolina was the most-watched (18.9 million) women's basketball game of all time, outstripping the numbers for the men's final between UConn and Purdue.

Those who have been in the league for a while will give the rookies their due. But this didn't come out of nowhere.

The 2023 WNBA season was the most watched in 21 years, and the league had its highest attendance in 13 years. The All-Star Game was the most watched in 16 years, the finals the most watched in 20.

This week, Atlanta Dream coach Tanisha Wright — a WNBA champion as a player with Seattle — talked about how she stood on the shoulders of giants who helped found the league. "It was my generation, and this new generation's responsibility to keep it moving forward."

An expansion franchise has been awarded to San Francisco for 2025. Reports this week said Toronto would get a franchise for 2026, making the WNBA a 14-team league. This year, charter travel will arrive for the first time.

Reeve could feel it coming a while back. With the rivalry created with L.A. in the 2016 and 2017 WNBA Finals. But what Clark and Co. have brought?

"I felt it in Dallas at the [2023] Final Four," said Reeve, who will coach the U.S. Olympic team in Paris this summer. "It was getting there. There was a wave forming. What they did is turn that wave into a tsunami."

Or, another term: perfect storm.

"It's a confluence of a lot of positive elements coming together," Edison said. "The play on the court has never been better. There are high-scoring games, compelling matchups. … And now this generational talent is coming in."

The 2024 draft — where Clark went No. 1 to the Fever — was the most watched in league history. That has carried over, and not just with Clark. When the Lynx preseason game with Reese's Chicago Sky wasn't made available in a stream, local Lynx fan Alli Schneider streamed it through her phone on X, a post that drew more than 2 million hits. The WNBA made sure Chicago's second preseason game was streamed.

"This movement has been a long time coming," said New York Liberty star Breanna Stewart. "With the new [collective bargaining agreement], now seeing more places you can watch women's sports. I think now it's making sure it's all hands on deck, knowing what we need to do to continue to grow this league."

That was Reeve's message last week, too: taking this moment and making it a movement.

"The time is now," she said. "We have to be innovative."

And appreciative.

Stewart made it clear there is no resentment for the fanfare accompanying Clark into the league.

"It's important we stick together," she said. "I'm happy that something catapulted this change. I'm happy we got to this point. It's just a little disappointing it took so long to get here."

There is a reason there is a generation of women capable of growing this interest. For more than a generation — the WNBA will begin its 28th season on Tuesday — there has been pro women's basketball for them to watch.

Reese made that point this week, crediting players who helped build this league. "Change is happening right now, before our eyes," she said. "But give them their flowers, while also knowing what we bring to the table."

Clark has made it no secret how much she loved watching former Lynx star Maya Moore play while growing up.

"These stars of today are here because they grew up watching the WNBA," Edison said. "This game is built upon great work in the past."

Reeve put in a lot of that work, first as an assistant and then as a head coach winning four WNBA titles in seven seasons.

"The reason for the college interest circulates back to the W being around for 28 years," Reeve said. "So it's come full circle back to the league."