1997: Then-ESPN host Robin Roberts (center) is flanked by WNBA stars. (Steve Friedman/ESPN Images)
1997: Then-ESPN host Robin Roberts (center) is flanked by WNBA stars. (Steve Friedman/ESPN Images)

This year marks the 20th season of the WNBA, and ESPN has been there from the start. The WNBA’s inaugural season began on ESPN on June 23, 1997, when the L.A. Sparks met the Utah Starzz.

That first year, ESPN televised 11 regular-season games and both semifinals for the WNBA Championship. In the championship game, the Houston Comets defeated the New York Liberty (current ESPN basketball analyst Rebecca Lobo was a Liberty star) for the first of the franchise’s four straight titles.

The 2016 WNBA season on ESPN will tip off on ESPN this Saturday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. ET, when the defending champion Minnesota Lynx (which also won in 2013 and 2011) host the Phoenix Mercury, the champions of 2014, ’09 and ’07. For more on this season’s WNBA coverage, visit ESPN MediaZone.

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