To some, Dwyane Wade let the chopper fly recently on his Wine Down podcast. As we’re living during a time when the WNBA is booming with progress, there’s been much conversation about why progress has taken as long as it has. I primarily think that leagues need time to grow. I’ve said before that the NBA wasn’t always this lucrative. It took the star power initially of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird to begin a true run of profitable years in the league. By the 1980s, the NBA was in its fourth decade of operation. The WNBA is entering its third decade of operation, but it still has a few years to spare.

Wade believes that the slow burn of this progression is partially linked to fan support of the WNBA. On Wine Down, regarding Caitlin Clark he stated, “You got now the people coming out of the woodwork that’s never watched the game, that doesn’t know nothing about the game — now point to say well why is she only getting $300 thousand over four years? Why she don’t have a signature shoe? Why y’all ain’t supporting, how you going to say why somebody a got something if you ain’t supporting them?”

Wade went on to detail that the energy fans give to the men’s game needs to be given to the women’s game as well. For example, he touched on how people used to “sleep outside and form lines for the latest Jordans.” It’s an interesting take. Honestly, it has some merit. During this conversation, the three-time NBA champion also highlighted the business of basketball.

He said, “This year they’re (the WNBA) hoping to get $50 to $60 million in TV deals, that’s where the players’ money is coming in at. The NBA, Billions right? To say that is to say, there’s but so much money in the pot, and everyone has to get what’s shared out in the pot.”

What Wade speaking to is how the support of sports leagues drives ratings. Those ratings are what help leagues at the negotiation table with television networks that broadcast these games. Player salaries are largely contingent on how lucrative these local and national television deals are. And if we continue to support it, the WNBA’s future will be as bright as we imagine.

The WNBA could’ve always used more support. Whether this is viewed negatively, I think women should’ve been selling out those games. This by no means absolves men for their lack of league support. But speaking from a demographic standpoint, you’d think more women would support the WNBA specifically. The first professional basketball game I ever attended was a New York Liberty game. It was Father’s Day in 2000. I had the opportunity to watch my favorite WNBA player Teresa Weatherspoon. I had a blast.

Over the last few years, I believe some new factors have lent themselves to men appreciating the women’s game more. The ladies of the WNBA have been very good at marketing themselves in recent years. From their fashion to their humor, they’re beginning to show more facets of who they are. It also doesn’t hurt that this new generation of ballers are also easy on the eyes, and great on the mic. With more women on commentary and doing analysis work, we’re all becoming more familiar with the scope of the women in the league.

What Wade is ultimately speaking to is the WNBA needing sustained fan support. But that’s no different than any other league. This is a special moment in time. The league is as visible as it has ever been. It behooves all of us to understand the moment and ensure that this isn’t just a moment. Let’s make sure that this isn’t just an era. This should lead to the WNBA’s success becoming a norm. And I think that’s a reality that we all can get with.