Breanna Stewart, Napheesa Collier-led women’s 3-on-3 league set to debut in January

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The debut date for a 3-on-3 basketball league led by two-time WNBA champion Breanna Stewart and Minnesota Lynx star Napheesa Collier is coming into clearer focus.

Players are set to begin competing in the Unrivaled league in around eight months. Athletes in the league are expected to earn the highest average salary in women’s professional sports league history. Players in the league will earn no less than six figures, according to Collier and Stewart.

Athletes will also have the unique opportunity to take advantage of an equity stake in the new league.

“It’s really important to us,” Collier told The Associated Press. “Compensation is a huge part of Unrivaled as a league and a business. All the players in this first year will have equity in the league. For players to have a piece of the pie essentially to grow their generational wealth is something we’re really excited about.”

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Breanna Stewart waves

Breanna Stewart, #30 of the New York Liberty, smiles after the game against the Washington Mystics during the 2023 WNBA Playoffs on September 15, 2023, in Brooklyn, New York.  (Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)

Many WNBA players resort to traveling overseas during the offseason in order to earn more. The average WNBA base salary is about $130,000, with the top stars able to earn more than $500,000 through salary, marketing agreements, an in-season tournament and bonuses.

Caitlin Clark is scheduled to earn just over $338,000 in pay base over four years, according to the terms of her WNBA rookie contract.

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“It’s amazing, not only for the salaries to be similar or more than your WNBA salary, but to be able to build brand partnerships that can’t come into the W or the NBA,” Stewart said. “It’s more than just an initial salary, but showing these companies who you are as a player.”

Breanna Stewart dribbles

New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart (30) fast-breaks during a WNBA game between New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun on June 27, 2023, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.  (M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The league, which was first announced last summer, will run for eight weeks with the 30 players divided into six teams. The squads will play two games a week with the contests taking place on a court about two-thirds the size of a WNBA one. The teams will stay the same throughout the season.

Games will be four quarters long with less time in each quarter than a WNBA contest. Unrivaled President Alex Bazzell said that the rules will be released at a later date.

Napheesa Collier shoots a basketball

Napheesa Collier, #24 of the Minnesota Lynx, shoots a free throw during the game against the Las Vegas Aces on May 29, 2024, at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

The league lined up a star-studded group of investors to help fund the launch. Former NBA stars Carmelo Anthony and Steve Nash and American soccer stars Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are a part of the group. Actor Ashton Kutcher and 11-time women’s college basketball winning coach Geno Auriemma have also invested.

“It’s not just about the dollars, but the relationships they have. We’ve been very selected with the people we brought in,” Bazzell said. “Investing in women’s sports there’s a ROI for it now. We wanted to have a group of people we could call up and say ‘Hey can you help in this area?’”

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Stewart said that the league has come a long way since the initial dinner two years ago when the idea of the league was first hatched.

“There’s nothing not to like about it, the only thing people are scared of is that it’s in its first year,” Stewart said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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