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Rebecca Lobo & Holly Rowe: The Red Carpet Interview

The two ESPN women’s basketball icons talk the future of the WNBA, endorsements, and Brittney Griner.

ESPN’s Holly Rowe and Rebecca Lobo are two refreshingly familiar faces in the world of women’s basketball. They are two-thirds of the network’s top hoops team for both the WNBA and women’s college basketball, so it was only natural that the dynamic duo walked the ESPYs red carpet together last week at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater.

Following Boardroom’s in-depth conversation with W commissioner Cathy Engelbert, we spoke with Rowe and Lobo about what they would do in her shoes, their dream endorsement partners, and an impassioned message on what they feel is the most important issue right now in sports.

SHLOMO SPRUNG: I recently interviewed commissioner Cathy Englebert. If you guys were commissioner, how would you change the W? 

HOLLY ROWE: How would I change the WNBA? How much time do you have?

No, I think we’re making good strides. We’re making good progress. Obviously I would do more capital funding. They’ve done some big fundraising to get more money. We need a higher salary cap. We need to pay the players more and we need to treat the players like the men in this country get treated. 

REBECCA LOBO: You just hope that the timeframe for change could be accelerated, because we’ve seen tremendous growth and tremendous change since the early years of the WNBA, 1997, ‘98, ‘99 to now, but it’s been 26 years. So maybe we can see exponential growth over the next five to six years because they’re already talking about expansion and hopefully a roster expansion as well. So I think it’s on the right trajectory. Let’s just accelerate it a little bit.

HR: Can we say one important thing?

SS: Of course!

HR: So we are here at the ESPYs and we’re very excited to be here and celebrate cancer research fundraising, but nothing matters until we get Brittney Griner, our friend, our teammate in the WNBA. We want her home. And that’s what’s top of mind because it is so important.

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SS: What’s the best investment each of you has made in the last year?

HR: I bought a house in Salt Lake City, Utah, where I got a new job for the Utah Jazz. So I invested in my career in the NBA in Utah.

RL: My daughter’s college tuition. Any parent who has a college-aged child can feel my pain.

SS: What’s the thing you wish you had invested in over the last year?

HR: More rest and health. We just work and grind it and grind it. And I think you have to invest in yourself sometimes. And rest. That’s not a sexy answer, but that’s real.

SS: Who are you ladies wearing?

HR: I don’t know who I’m wearing. I’m just happy to be here.

RL: [Laughs] I don’t know, either.

HR: Except I did style her.

RL: The necklace is provided and styled by Holly Rowe.

SS: What is your dream endorsement, if you could choose one company or product?

HR: Oh, my gosh. Mine would be Delta Airlines so that I could travel free for life. I just hit 3 million miles traveling on Delta. So I don’t know why I’m not an official spokesman. But if I could endorse anything, Delta Air Lines, just hook me up!

RL: How do I follow that? Get me that Delta. Get me on that.

SS: Rebecca, what’s the weirdest endorsement you’ve been approached for?

RL: So it wasn’t really by a company, it was by an individual. This was right after I graduated from UConn, so around 1995. I got a letter from a guy who said that it’s unfair that male athletes have a jockstrap and women athletes don’t have anything to support them. He said his idea was for a female jockstrap. And he sent me the prototype and everything. And needless to say, I did not respond to that individual [laughs]. I didn’t even touch it.

I challenge you to find anyone who says something weirder suggested to them as an endorsement. I won.

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