The women's national basketball association (wnba) is a basketball association in the united states. it currently is composed of twelve teams. the league was founded on april 24, 1996, as the women's counterpart to the national basketball association (nba). league play started in 1997; the regular season is currently played from may to august with the all star game being played midway through the season in july and the finals in september. many wnba teams have direct nba counterparts and play in the same arena. the connecticut sun, seattle storm, tulsa shock, and chicago sky are the only teams that do not share an arena with a direct nba counterpart, although two of the four (the shock and the sky) share a market with a nba counterpart, and the storm shared an arena and market with an nba team at the time of its founding. the four aforementioned franchises, along with the atlanta dream and the los angeles sparks, are all independently owned. this independent ownership is important to the wnba's growth; at one time, all teams in the league were owned by the nba.