WNBA pioneers reflect on league 25 years on

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Rebecca Lobo, already a verifiable star after picking up the 1995 collegiate national championship with the undefeated University of Connecticut, eschewed the American Basketball League (ABL) - and with it, the tantalizing possibility of a six-figure salary - after learning the National Basketball Association (NBA) was working up a women's league.The then-22-year-old was the youngest member of the U.S. national team, which embarked on a 52-game domestic and international tour with the national team before taking home Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996.Lobo ultimately joined the New York Liberty as one of two allocated players, and was greeted by a deafening crowd of 17,780 at the team's first-ever Madison Square Garden home opener.The 25th-season anniversary comes at a pivotal moment for the league, amid an upward trend in television ratings.The new season, which kicks off May 15, will usher in a welcome return to normalcy for players, who successfully navigated a year under virtual lockdown - playing inside the WNBA's quarantined "wubble" - in 2020.