Candace Parker of the Sparks

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– Minnesota Begins Quest for Second Consecutive Championship May 20 on ABC –

– Game Schedule Will Break in Late July/Early August for 2012 Olympics in London –

NEW YORK, Jan. 19, 2012 – The WNBA will tip off its 16th season on Friday, May 18, when two of the league’s top stars square off as Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks visit Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm. The

defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, led by 2011 Rookie of the Year Maya Moore and Finals MVP Seimone Augustus, begins its title defense when scoring champion Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury visit on Sunday, May 20, in a nationally televised game on ABC.

Showcasing the league’s most talented players and competitive rivalries, combined coverage of the WNBA regular season, Playoffs, and Finals on ABC, ESPN2 and NBA TV, the league’s 24-hour television network, will feature over 80 contests.

With as many as 20 WNBA players likely to represent their respective countries in a quest for the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London (July 27-Aug. 12), the league has not scheduled any games between July 14-Aug. 15.  Similar to the 2004 and 2008 seasons that also saw a break in

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 05:  Ticha Penicheiro #21 o...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

the schedule for the Olympics, WNBA teams and players will remain active in their local communities during the hiatus.  Players not competing in the Olympics will participate in a variety of community-based events and activities designed to give fans a unique opportunity to interact with their favorite WNBA teams.

Following the 2012 Summer Olympics, in which the United States will look to earn its fifth consecutive gold medal in women’s basketball, the WNBA will tip off the second half of its season on Thursday, Aug. 16.  The regular season schedule concludes on Saturday, Sept. 23, with the Playoffs scheduled to begin on Thursday, Sept. 27.

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Denise J. Saul is the Founder/President of WSEN-Women's Sports & Entertainment Network.

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