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Top 15 WNBA Players of All Time

Date Posted: 26 July 2011     0 Comments

To celebrate its 15 years of existence, the WNBA made a move to name the 15 best players to ever don a WNBA jersey.

In a simple ceremony before the 2011 WNBA All-Star game, the 15 were named and given their due.

The 15 included five retired players in Cynthia Cooper, Yolanda Griffith, Dawn Staley, Teresa Weatherspoon, and Lisa Leslie.

The other ten players are Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings, Becky Hammon, Lauren Jackson, Ticha Penicheiro, Cappie Pondexter, Katie Smith, Sheryl Swoopes, Diana Taurasi, and Tina Thompson.

Here are 15 facts about the WNBA’s best 15 players.

·         14 have earned Olympic medals (Jackson, three silver medals with Australia in 2000, 2004 and 2008; Hammon, a bronze medal with Russia in 2008; Weatherspoon, a gold medal in 1988 and a bronze medal with the U.S. in 1992, the rest gold medals for the U.S.)

·         11 have played on a WNBA championship team (Cooper, Swoopes, and Thompson with Houston in 1997-2000, Leslie with Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002, Bird and Jackson with Seattle in 2004 and 2010, Griffith and Penicheiro with Sacramento in 2005, Pondexter and Taurasi with Phoenix in 2007 and 2009, Smith with Detroit in 2006 and 2008)

·         10 members of the All-Decade Team selected in 2006 (the league’s 10th season) are members of the Top 15 Players of All Time

·         Nine won gold medals with the U.S. Olympic team in 2004 (Bird, Catchings, Griffith, Leslie, Smith, Staley, Swoopes, Taurasi, and Thompson)

·         Seven won gold medals with the U.S. Olympic team in 2008 (Bird, Catchings, Leslie, Pondexter, Smith, Taurasi, and Thompson,)

·         Six have won a total of 13 of 14 regular-season WNBA MVP awards (Cooper in 1997 and 1998; Griffith in 1999; Jackson in 2003, 2007, and 2010; Leslie in 2001, 2004, and 2006; Swoopes in 2000, 2002, and 2005; Taurasi in 2009)

·         Six have won a total of 13 of 14 regular-season WNBA Defensive Player of the Year awards (Catchings in 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2010; Griffith in 1999; Jackson in 2007; Leslie in 2004 and 2008; Swoopes in 2000, 2002, and 2003; Weatherspoon in 1997 and 1998)

·          Four have won both WNBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season (Griffith in 1999; Jackson in 2007; Leslie in 2004; Swoopes in 2000 and 2002)

·          Four are former No. 1 overall WNBA Draft picks (Bird in 2002, Jackson in 2001, Taurasi in 2004, and Thompson in 1997)

·         Four have won a WNBA championship, an NCAA title, and a gold medal (Bird, Cooper, Swoopes, and Taurasi)

·         Three are currently head basketball coaches of women’s collegiate programs (Cooper at UNC Wilmington, Staley at South Carolina, Weatherspoon at Louisiana Tech)

·         Three are former members of the American Basketball League (Griffith, Smith, and Staley)

·         Two are original members of the WNBA, and still active as players in the league (Swoopes and Thompson)

·         Two won WNBA Rookie of the Year honors (Catchings in 2002 and Taurasi in 2004)

·         One was the first player ever to sign with the WNBA (Swoopes, Oct. 23, 1996)

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