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WNBA Star Kahleah Copper Wants Action on Chicago Sky Practice Facility

  • Copper, a three-time All-Star, says, “Some teams are with NBA teams, some are not,” regarding WNBA team facility disparities.
  • On Dwyane Wade’s Sky ownership interest, Copper says he would help “knowing what the NBA has and what the WNBA should have.”
“Some teams are with NBA teams, some are not,” Copper says regarding WNBA facility disparities.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Kahleah Copper is the Chicago Sky’s leading scorer and franchise player, and she’s talkin’ about practice. Not a game.

In fact, much of the WNBA is talking about practice—specifically the facilities that hold them. In May, Sky ownership said it began scouting locations for a new practice facility, in hopes of replacing the public recreation center the team has practiced in since 2011.

“I love that Chicago is having these talks about facilities, I just wanna see the action,” Copper, a Philadelphia native, told Front Office Sports. “I think that’ll be really good for this franchise. It’s Chicago in the summer, it’s nice. So imagine having the best facilities—that’s tough. That’s an easy sell right there.” 

Copper, the Finals MVP during the Sky’s 2021 Championship run, was just selected to her third-straight WNBA All-Star Game and is on the bottle cover of Gatorade’s new Fast Twitch Game Changer Collection energy drink alongside Candace Parker and Elena Delle Donne.

She’ll be a free agent this offseason after seven seasons with the Sky, and says that a team’s practice facility situation is a factor considered by players when pondering free agency.

“I don’t think it’s top, top tier, but it is something that players are interested in,” Copper said. “They’re interested in if they’re gonna have a locker. Do they have a certain time that they have to be out of the gym, can they get up extra shots, or how is the facility in general? A lot of players have questions about stuff like that.”

WNBA teams committed to practicing in state-of-the-art facilities include the Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty, and Seattle Storm. Of the 12 WNBA teams, the Liberty are among the five that share ownership with an NBA team, which has created somewhat of a “haves and have-nots” dynamic among team resources provided to WNBA players. The Aces share ownership with the NFL’s Raiders.

“Some [WNBA] teams are with NBA teams; some teams are not. So you see different things around the league, and it’s like, ‘okay, I see what’s going on, and this is nice,’” Copper said. “You see teams, and you see people are keeping up with the Joneses. Everybody’s trying to keep up. Then you start to really sit and think about it, like, I deserve this, I deserve for it to be this nice. Seeing different teams around the league have nice facilities, I love it personally. I’m excited because it’s not for me, but it’s for women that are doing the same thing that I’m doing, and this is something that we deserve.”

The Sky are trying to keep up, having sold a 10% stake in the team last month to a group of investors that included Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts. A few weeks after that transaction was announced, Copper threw out the first pitch of a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

At $85 million, the Sky have the second-highest valuation among all WNBA teams behind the Storm’s $151 million valuation. NBA legend and Chicago native Dwyane Wade has expressed interest in investing in the Sky and becoming a minority owner in the team, which was coached by his cousin James Wade until he left the organization last week to become an assistant coach with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.

“For him to even have the interest in wanting to invest in us, I think that’s big time,” Copper said of D-Wade’s interest in the Sky. “Him being a part of it would create so many different opportunities, and things that he could help with being a former player and knowing what the NBA has and what the WNBA should have. So I think that him potentially doing that would be a big step.”

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