A new professional basketball league has launched in Las Vegas.
Athletes Unlimited, the organization that has brought a viable American option for professional women’s sports like volleyball and softball, played its first women’s basketball games on Jan. 26. Chicago Sky guard and WNBA champion Lexie Brown stole the show in the league’s first-ever matchup, as she poured in 14 of her first 19 points in the game’s first 20 minutes. Brown, daughter of NBA legend and former dunk contest winner Dee Brown, also had five steals in Team Russell’s 80-71 win over Team Sims.
“I came into the game really locked in defensively,” Brown said after the game, according to a press release. “[Team captain] Mercedes [Russell] told us in shootaround and practices that if we play defense we’re gonna win this game, and I think everyone bought into that.”
In a league coached by the players, Athletes Unlimited gives professional women athletes a chance to stay in America during the offseason instead of taking the traditional overseas trip to keep income flowing in the WNBA’s seven-month offseason. It’s a beneficial option for league players like Mikiah “Kiki” Harrigan, who missed the last WNBA season due to pregnancy. She can now remain in America with her newborn child, as well as get her conditioning back up in games.
Athletes Unlimited also gives players not in the WNBA’s league of 144 players a chance to show their talents, like Taj Cole, who led all scorers with 21 points in the first game on the night.