Sports bring people together and it seems there’s always a season to keep up with, especially when it comes to basketball. Not only do the NCAA and NBA leagues draw massive crowds but the WNBA also has thousands of fans who flock to their games—especially the finals.
The WNBA Finals are a best-of-five series between the two semifinal winners held every October. We’ll take a look at WNBA finals history and which team has the most championship appearances. Plus, we can’t examine sports without talking about wins: the most and those that were oh-so-close on the map below.
View WNBA Champions in a full screen map
Wikipedia provided the open-source list of WNBA champions data for our map of women’s professional basketball championships. Explore the winners (and losers) geographically or by map groups like finals year or team’s current status. We’ll also highlight some trends below.
Though the league is only 12 active teams, there have been 15 WNBA teams that have played their way through the regular season to make it to the finals—regardless of winning or losing once they got there. The Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks have appeared in more than five WNBA finals each. Between them, they’ve appeared 11 times, although just one of those was together. With six appearances, the Lynx have the Sparks’ five finals appearances beat. The only teams close to catching up to their record are the Detroit Shock (4), Houston Comets (4), Seattle Storm (4).
Both the Shock and the Comets are no longer in the league. The Shock relocated (first to Tulsa and later to Dallas where they were rebranded as the Wings) while the Comets folded altogether. Some other teams that were no stranger to the WNBA Finals before franchise changes include the Sacramento Monarchs and Charlotte Sting, both of which folded. The Connecticut Sun (formerly Orlando Miracle) and Las Vegas Aces (previously known as Utah Starzz, San Antonio Silver Stars, and San Antonio Stars) had faced relocations in the past.
But which teams haven’t been so lucky?
As for the teams that have never once made it to the finals, there are only three. They’re all former teams, so unlikely to make a final in the future, unless the team is revived. These never-champs are:
- Cleveland Rockers
- Miami Sol
- Portland Fire
The Cleveland Rockers were one of the original teams. established at the same time as the league in 1997. Yet the Rockers never made it to the finals before the team folded in 2003. In the case of both the Miami Sol and the Portland Fire, each only had a two-year run (2000–2002), so their lack of finals appearances is easily explained. Let’s move on to wins.
As for wins, which is the goal for every team, nine teams have more than one championship under their belt:
- Houston Comets
- Minnesota Lynx
- Seattle Storm
- Detroit Shock
- Los Angeles Sparks
- Phoenix Mercury
- Indiana Fever
- Sacramento Monarchs
- Washington Mystics
Which team—or teams—truly hold the crown? The Houston Comets (folded), Minnesota Lynx, and Seattle Storm have the most finals wins of any WNBA team (four wins each). While the Comets’ last win was in 2000 (the team was dissolved after the 2008 season), Minnesota won as recently as 2017 and the Storm were the 2020 champs.
The next-most WNBA finals wins appear to come in threes: the Detroit Shock, Los Angeles Sparks, and Phoenix Mercury have three W’s on their record. Combined, the WNBA championship wins of the Indiana Fever, Sacramento Monarchs (which moved to Tulsa after 2009 and then Dallas following the 2015 season), and Washington Mystics also add up to three wins. Now let’s move on to the teams with a lot of wins and no losses.
While Minnesota, Houston, and Seattle have the same high number of finals wins (four each), they do differ in their winning percentage. Only the Comets and Storm have a perfect score, winning as often as they’ve appeared in the championships.
As the Minnesota Lynx has seen two finals losses, their winning percentage is quite a bit lower at 0.667. The teams with a better winning percentage than the Lynx? Both the Detroit Shock and Phoenix Mercury out-score the Lynx with 0.75 percent wins. Those that fall below the Lynx? The Los Angeles Sparks (0.6), Sacramento Monarchs (0.5), Washington Mystics (0.5), and Indiana Fever (0.333). But even a winning percent of 0.333 is better than 0.
Several WNBA teams have made an appearance or two in the finals but have yet to win a title. These include:
- New York Liberty
- Atlanta Dream
- Connecticut Sun
- Las Vegas Aces
- Charlotte Sting
- Chicago Sky
The New York Liberty has had the most opportunities to bring home a trophy, yet they’re still 0 for 4 in championships. The two teams that flubbed three chances each to win are the Atlanta Dream and Connecticut Sun. As for the rest of the teams without a W, the Las Vegas Aces have had two chances while both the Charlotte Sting and Chicago Sky have had just one throughout WNBA finals history.
And there’s certainly not a lack of basketball leagues to support. To dive into other dribbling champs, check out NBA Finals on a Map: Most Appearances, Most Wins or map your favorite league’s stats at batchgeo.com.