Earn Careers

What It’s Really Like To Own A Basketball Team With Clara Wu Tsai

Haley Paskalides  |  May 20, 2024

Clara Wu Tsai on how she turned the New York Liberty around and what she's most excited about for the 2024 WNBA season.

It’s no secret that women’s basketball is exploding in popularity. The WNBA had a record-breaking season last year, which was also its most-watched season in over two decades. One of the women we can thank for this momentum is Clara Wu Tsai. She bought the New York Liberty basketball team in 2019 with her husband Joe Tsai, and immediately made huge changes to turn it around. Her goals for this year? To win a championship, and show that women’s professional sports can be profitable.

Since Wu Tsai stepped into her new role with the WNBA, viewership has hit record highs. Take Game 4 of the 2023 WNBA Finals between the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty for example. It averaged almost 900,00 viewers, which is the most-watched WNBA Games 4 Finals on record, and an increase of 124% from Game 4 in 2022, according to Sports Business Journal.

SUBSCRIBE: New episode drops every Monday! Subscribe to How She Does It on Apple Podcasts so you never miss the latest!

“The previous owners for whatever reason, just decided that they didn’t want to invest anymore,” Clara Wu Tsai says. “So they moved the team to play in Westchester County Center from Madison Square Garden. After we bought the team, the first thing we did was move the team back to New York City, to Barclays Center, where the Brooklyn Nets play.” They then built a state-of-the-art locker room, invested heavily in player health and care, and recruited an incredible championship-winning team. 

“There’s a whole team of people that we assembled to operate and execute on our vision,” Wu Tsai says. “This year, besides winning a championship, our goal is viewership. That’s very important from a business standpoint and of course, this is a business. One of the things I really want to do is show that women’s professional sports can be profitable.”

Besides owning a basketball team, Wu Tsai is also a social justice activist. She has founded several foundations including the Social Justice Fund which works toward economic mobility and racial justice, the REFORM Alliance, which seeks to reform the criminal justice system, and the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance, which works across six universities to advance the science of human performance.

Clara started the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance because she saw an enormous opportunity in the marketplace. “Almost everything that we know about human health comes from studying disease. We wanted to study peak performance in elite athletes, but there was not an area where this discrepancy was more pronounced than in female athletes.” 

A mere 25% of all health studies are actually done on women — yet we know there are countless injuries that affect female athletes that don’t affect men. In other words, Wu Tsai knew this needed to change. 

The Alliance’s work is focused on three main categories: female injury focused on bone stress fractures and ACL tears, relative energy deficiency in sports (essentially how we can make sure women are getting enough nutrition to offset the kind of intense workouts that they’re doing), and female resilience. 

“One of the exciting things we found is 40 sex-related differences in gene expression after exercise,” Wu Tsai says. “So something like that is going to lead to female-related therapies and training regimens. And I think that’s really going to change the game for the way females prepare for success in their sport.”

And changing the game seems to be the whole name of the game for Clara Wu Tsai. We’ll be cheering her — and the whole New York Liberty team! — on in the years to come. 


Join us! Snag all the latest episodes, savvy budgeting tips, investing advice and even giveaways via the HerMoney Newsletter at Hermoney.com/subscribe!

This podcast is proudly supported by iShares. BLACKROCK and iSHARES are trademarks of BlackRock, Inc. or its affiliates (together “BlackRock”). The information provided in this communication is solely for educational purposes and should not be construed as advice or an investment recommendation. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of BlackRock. BlackRock is not affiliated with HerMoney

Editor’s note: We maintain a strict editorial policy and a judgment-free zone for our community, and we also strive to remain transparent in everything we do. Posts may contain references and links to products from our partners. Learn more about how we make money.

Next Article: