Mar 21, 2024 - Sports

Remembering the time the Warriors drafted a woman

woman in blue suit next to man in shirt that says warriors basketball

Denise Long and Stephen Curry during a Golden State Warriors practice in 2018. Photo: Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are bringing a WNBA team to San Francisco, but it's not the first time the franchise has ushered women's basketball into the Bay.

Why it matters: The then-San Francisco Warriors' selection of Denise Long in the 1969 NBA draft inadvertently paved the way for women's professional basketball, KQED reports.

What they're saying: "I couldn't turn this down," Long, now Denise Rife, recalled decades later to the Des Moines Register. "I decided to go to San Francisco."

State of play: While Long became the first woman ever to be selected by an NBA team, the historic draft pick was vetoed by then-NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy before she had a chance to suit up because of two reasons: the NBA didn't allow teams to draft women or high school players.

  • Yes, but: Long ended up playing for a women's basketball team that would play before Warriors home games and during halftime, according to the Register.

Zoom in: Long garnered the Warriors' attention while playing high school basketball in Iowa.

  • The 5-foot-11 player became somewhat of a legend in Iowa after she scored 100 points in a game not just once, but three times.
  • In her senior year, Long averaged 69 points per game.

What's next: Now, 55 years later, San Francisco is gearing up to launch the WNBA's first expansion since 2008.

  • San Francisco's WNBA team, which has yet to be named, hits the court for its inaugural season in May 2025.
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