WNBA Expansion Hits the Bay Area; New Team to Begin Play in 2025
A WNBA team is officially coming to the Bay Area, the league announced Thursday morning. Led by Joe Lacob and the ownership group of the Golden State Warriors, the soon-to-be-named squad will begin play in 2025 alongside a rumored second new franchise to be revealed soon. While nothing is confirmed regarding additional WNBA expansion, Howard Megdal of The Next reports the next team will be based in Portland. This is the first time the W has expanded since 2008, when the Atlanta Dream became the 12th franchise club. The last time professional women’s basketball was in the Bay Area was when the San Jose Lasers played in the American Basketball League from 1996-1998.
Joel Embiid to Play for Team USA at 2024 Olympics
Joel Embiid has committed to play for Team USA at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. The Philadelphia 76ers star was born in Cameroon but holds both French and American citizenship. The reigning NBA MVP was also considering playing for France next summer but ultimately decided on the United States because, according to Shelburne, “he wants to help the United States return to the top of the international basketball world after it failed to medal at the World Championships in Manila this summer.” Losing out on Embiid is undoubtedly a disadvantage to France, but it will still have a big addition: Victor Wembanyama. The top pick in this year’s NBA Draft has said he intends to play for the host country at the Olympics.
ESPN to Broadcast Tiger Woods & Rory McIlroy’s TGL
ESPN has clinched the domestic broadcast rights for TMRW Sports’ TGL, a new primetime golf league headed by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, the network confirmed on Thursday. ABC will broadcast a preview show on Dec. 30, while the inaugural match will air on ESPN and its ESPN+ streaming platform in primetime on Jan. 9. The competition will run for 15 regular-season weeks plus playoffs. Financial terms of the TGL rights agreement were not disclosed. A joint venture of Woods, McIlroy, and the PGA Tour, TGL will feature teams of Tour players playing in an arena outfitted with a virtual course and a physical putting green.
LeBron James’ ‘TNF in The Shop’ Returning to Amazon’s Thursday Night Football
TNF in The Shop, an alternative game stream that features LeBron James, Maverick Carter, and co-creator Paul Rivera, is returning to Amazon’s Thursday Night Football for the second straight season. This year’s premiere will take place on Oct. 12 during Prime’s TNF coverage of the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos game, according to Rivera, who also serves as chief brand officer at SpringHill Company. While the full list of guests hasn’t been revealed, Front Office Sports did share that comedian Will Ferrell will make an appearance.
AT&T Helps Create Football Helmet for Deaf, Hard of Hearing Players
AT&T and Gallaudet University have teamed up to create the first-ever 5G-connected football helmet, making the game more inclusive by strengthening the on-field communication for student-athletes who communicate via American Sign Language. Gallaudet, based in Washington D.C., is a private institution that focuses on the education of the deaf and hard of hearing. The innovative helmet will permit coaches on the sideline to select a play from a tablet, which transmits the play to a lens inside the helmet. The quarterback wearing the helmet will receive the play in augmented reality on the digital display situated within the visor. “The new AT&T 5G-connected helmet will have a major impact on the game of football, especially for our deaf and hard of hearing players who lacked direct access to communications with their coaches during their high school years,” special teams coordinator and ex-Gallaudet athlete Shelby Bean said of the news.
Utah Football Drives Major NIL Deal
Thanks to the Utah Crimson Collective, in partnership with Utah-based For The Win 360°, every Utah Football player who is on scholarship has the opportunity to drive a brand-new 2024 Ram Big Horn 1500, which retails at roughly $61,000 each. The program surprised student-athletes earlier this week at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The collective is footing the cost of the lease of every vehicle — lasting six months and void if a player transfers or their eligibility expires. The Crimson Collective is also covering insurance on the trucks. In total, the deal carries an estimated $6 million value.