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Steph Curry vs Sabrina Ionescu brings special moment for women's basketball fans

3-point competition
Posted at 8:29 AM, Feb 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-16 09:14:35-05

INDIANAPOLIS — A 3-point contest between Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu has fans in Indy buzzing. It's the best in the NBA versus the best in the WNBA.

"I’m very excited for the two best shooters in the league right now to go at it," said Malyiah Evans, an 8th grade basketball player at Brownsburg West.

"I thought we have come a long way baby," said Linda Rowan, a Fever season ticket holder.

"She’s very confident, she’s a great shooter," said Loren Mann, a Sabrina Ionescu fan.

Mann is 8-years-old and loves not only Ionescu, but the Indiana Fever as well. In her room you'll find autographed memorabilia including an Ionescu signed picture.

"She’s one of my favorite players because she beat Steph Curry," Mann said.

At the 2023 WNBA All-Star game, Ionescu beat Curry's 3-point shoot out record with 37 points.

"25 out of 27," Mann said.

Out at a neighborhood court in Brownsburg, Mayliah Evans is working on her game. She'll tell you she's a big Steph Curry fan.

"Yes, I have his jerseys and stuff. I’ve always watched him play," said Evans.

Even though she loves to watch Curry, during the 3-point competition she'll be rooting for Ionescu.

"I've always played with the boys, so I'm excited to see Sabrina go up against one," said Evans.

"I'm just so proud of all the young ladies that are getting to play, the competition has just gotten ridiculous, they're just so good," said Linda Rowan, an Indiana Fever season ticket holder.

Rowan is 60-years-old and has been around the game for quite a bit, but didn't have the same opportunities growing up.

"They didn't have professional ball. It's not something you strived—you never even thought about it," said Rowan.

She's been a season ticket holder for a few years now and says she's seen the stands fill up more and the interest grow.

"And that just goes to show that people have given it a chance and they've liked it and it's great to see that," said Rowan.

Numbers from the WNBA post season show more people are turning in.

"The talent has never been this good, I think you could say. We have this incredible star power that is driving the college game to grow and the WNBA, said Alexa Philippou, a women's basketball reporter for ESPN.

The WNBA postseason on ESPN, which featured Ionescu and the New York Liberty, averaged 470,000 viewers making it the most watched postseason in 16 years.

"I think when you're able to put a player like Sabrina alongside a player like Steph Curry it's an acknowledgment that WNBA players and a player like Sabrina they're equal to NBA players and players like Steph," said Philippou.

Having that equality, the women's game being at a level this high, and now showcasing it on big stage like NBA All-Star Weekend gives an optimistic outlook for young players.

"It means that I can basically do anything I want and maybe I can have my own shoe when I grow up like her," said Mann.

"I am very excited to see how far it's gonna come especially when I get into high school next year," said Evans.

For Rowan there's an appreciation for how far the game has come.

"Really kind of emotional because it's great to see the progress and it's kind of like we're living our dream through them."

Lexie Hull, a guard for the Indiana Fever, is also looking forward to the match up.

"We just haven’t had this many eyes on the WNBA or a WNBA player. For me it was super exciting and for me knowing Sabrina from playing against her at Oregon just a great opportunity for her and I’m super excited to see how she does," said Hull.

The Indiana Fever are in the midst of a rebuild, but are seeing growth in ticket sales.
The WNBA saw a record breaking 2023. According to league numbers, it was the most watched regular season in 21 years. The WNBA also saw an increase in viewership across all platforms by 21 percent and attendance at games went up by 16 percent.

"All of a sudden we’re rebuilding this franchise, make it relevant again and the fans, and the partners, and the media partners such as yourself are coming along with it," said Allison Barber, the president of the Indiana Fever. "Good things take time and people have worked hard to get us to this moment and I think its nowhere to go but up."