It started after Anne Cribbs and Gary Cavalli walked into a mall and spotted Molly Goodenbour selling socks for minimum wage. Goodenbour, who had led her Stanford University’s basketball team to winning two NCAA championships in the early 1990s, inspired Cribbs and Cavalli to raise $4 million to start the American Basketball League. The year-old pro-women’s professional league has already attracted a fifteen percent larger audience than originally expected. Goodenbour commented, “For me, the important thing is just to be able to play. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I can’t believe I get paid to play basketball.”
Fans are excited that the league has players working on the fundamentals of basketball, and not just the slam dunks and fast breaks often displayed by the male’s NBA, “The game is what I can relate to,” says Bob Crist, an NCAA football official, “It’s playing below the rim, seeing the floor, finding the open player. This is the game I know. There’s no thugs, no attitude. I don’t even have daughters. I have two sons and they love this.” Though women’s leagues in the past have not always been successful, Robert Madrigal, professor of sports marketing at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business, believes this time corporate sponsorships will back the league. He commented, “Most purchases are made by women, and that’s not going to be lost on Madison Avenue. And the women make very compelling role models.” A Women’s NBA will debut next year and already has a television deal with NBC and large amounts of corporate endorsements.