The game, also the Mercury’s annual Native American Night, to be broadcast in Navajo language for the first time in Phoenix Mercury history
The three-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury will host the Seattle Storm this Friday in the final regular-season meeting ever between league icons, longtime friends, former UCONN and Team USA teammates Diana Taurasi and the retiring Sue Bird. The Mercury will also celebrate Arizona’s indigenous community and its 22 tribes as part of Native American Night powered by NABI Nation. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
The night’s activations will include:
- Pregame video and gift presentation from the Mercury organization to Bird
- Pregame gift presentation to Briann January, former Mercury player and Arizona State Sun Devil standout, who is also celebrating her final WNBA season
- Celebration of Native American communities and the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI)
- Hosting more than 1,300 participating NABI athletes from more than 120 teams from across the United States and Canada
- Halftime recognition of the four teams (two boys, two girls) participating in the NABI Championship Games at Footprint Center on Saturday, July 23. Tickets on sale HERE. The games will be broadcast on ESPN+, marking the first time an all-Native youth sporting event will be featured on a major sports network platform.
- Flags of all 22 Arizona tribes on display in the Pavilion
- Pregame set from DJ Tribal Touch in the Pavilion as fans enter
- Award-winning Native American artist Callie Bennett will perform the national anthem in her native Navajo language
- Performances from Indigenous Enterprise, the renowned dance troupe that blends powwow style dancing with a hip-hop influence
- Ryneldi Becenti, who grew up playing basketball on the Navajo reservation in Fort Defiance and later at Arizona State University, will be honored with the Believe in Women award presented by Fry’s Food Stores, for becoming the first Native American WNBA player when she signed with the Mercury in 1997.
For the first time in team history, the Mercury will partner with Native Broadcast Enterprise to air Friday’s game in the Navajo language featuring broadcast veteran L.A. Williams. Williams, who credits Al McCoy as an early mentor, started her radio career in 1992 and called the first Suns game in the Navajo language on April 24, 1993, and made a return during the 2022 NBA playoffs.
Mercury President Vince Kozar: “Thanks to NABI leadership, I’ve learned so much about the importance of ‘Rez Ball’ to Native athletes and their communities, and it’s an annual honor to be able to partner with the tournament and host them at games to recognize their accomplishments and celebrate their cultures. This year, to be able to add a live radio broadcast in Navajo and reach even more Arizonans to bring them into the Mercury family is very special.”
The Navajo broadcast will be available locally in northern Arizona on Capital Country FM 96.1 KWRK and KCAZ 99.5 FM and globally at CapitalCountryFM.com.
Bird (41), a four-time WNBA Champion, five-time Olympic Gold Medalist, 13-time WNBA All-Star and the league’s all-time leader in assists, minutes, and games played, will retire at the conclusion of the 2022 season. January, who played collegiately at Arizona State University and with the Mercury from 2018-2019, spent most of her career with the Indiana Fever, where she won a WNBA title and was named to six All-Defensive Teams.
Tickets for Friday’s game are still available and can be purchased at PhoenixMercury.com/SingleGame.