The future of the WNBA looks to be in good hands if Saturday's All-Star Game is any indication.
On display were future Hall of Famers and a handful of rock-solid veterans with plenty of All-Star experience. But youth dominated the two All-Star rosters and, while the more All-Star experienced West waltzed to a 130-121 win, the East team acquitted itself with flying colors.
Minnesota's Maya Moore scored 23 points and Los Angeles' Nneka Ogwumike, the reigning league MVP, added 22 to lead the West to the win at KeyArena in Seattle.
"I was inspired by some of the East players, turning it up a bit," Moore said. "We each had flashes of regular-season moments. But for the most part we played in All-Star mode."
"We had fun and that was the point of the day."
All-Star mode meant lots of smiles, friendly trash-talking, very little defense and lots of points.
In fact, the combined 251 points scored Saturday set a WNBA All-Star Game record. But that wasn't the only record broken.
The 130 points by the West tied for the most by one team. The West connected on 56.8 percent of its shots and made 19 3-point shots, both records.
Atlanta's Layshia Clarendon recorded 10 assists, the most by a first-time All-Star.
And Seattle's Sue Bird set an All-Star record to the delight of the hometown fans with 11 assists.
Her best moment, Bird said, was redeeming herself from a poor performance in the 3-point contest at halftime.
"All Star games can be funny at times," she said. "You want to have fun but also want to be competitive at times. Both teams did a good job showcasing their talents and having fun with it."
Bird finished with just eight points in addition to her 11 assists. Many of the young East players impressed Bird, who specifically singled out Connecticut's Jonquel Jones, who dunked in the final minute.
"Jonquel alone. Some of the stuff she's doing at 6-6, handling, step-back threes, dunks. ... I think this All-Star Game, you got to see some Hall of Famers and some young studs who are going to take over."
Jones, one of the first-time All-Stars, led the East with 24 points, including the dunk at the end of the game, and nine rebounds.
"DT (Diana Taurasi) asked me if I had one in me, and I said, 'Yeah yeah, I got one in'" Jones said. "They opened up the lane for me and I just threw it down. I'm happy I was able to do in the All-Star Game.
"It's been an awesome experience."
A total of 10 players -- eight from the East and two from the West -- made their All-Star debuts.
The five West starters were making a combined 31 All-Star appearances, including hometown favorite Bird, who was playing in her 10th All-Star Game.
The East pushed the pace early, often catching the more veteran West squad lagging.
"They're young, it's their first time; they just don't get how this works," Bird said.
But in the end, it was the veteran experience of the West that prevailed.
Moore was chosen MVP of the game, her second straight All-Star Game honor.
The East started four first-time All-Stars along with veteran Tina Charles.
Jasmine Thomas, Alyssa Thomas, Tiffany Hayes and Jones all were making their All-Star debuts. Alyssa Thomas started in place of Washington's Elena Delle Donne, who sprained ankle on July 14 and could not play.
The West was without All-Star reserve Brittney Griner, the league's leading scorer, who injured her left knee and is expected to miss a month.
NOTES: Chicago's Allie Quigey defeated Sugar Rodgers 27-19 in the championship round to win the 3-point shooting contest, which took place at halftime. Also taking part in the contest was Connecticut's Jasmine Thomas, Minnesota's Maya Moore and Seattle's Sue Bird. ... There was no All-Star Game last year as players were participating in the Summer Olympics. ... Seven All-Stars played at the University of Connecticut, the most ever in an All-Star Game from one school. ... Only four fouls were called in the first half. Two were called on Maya Moore and one each on the East's Jonquel Jones and Layshia Clarendon. ... Among the celebrities in the stands were former Seattle SuperSonics coach Lenny Wilkens, Boston Celtics great Bill Russell, who coached the SuperSonics from 1973-1977, and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, wearing a Magic Johnson jersey.