NEW YORK, July 23, 2011 In celebration of the WNBA's 15th season, the league officially unveiled and honored its Top 15 Players of All Time during a special halftime ceremony aired live on ABC at today's 2011 WNBA All-Star Game presented by adidas in San Antonio.
"The 15 athletes honored today represent an extraordinarily accomplished group and the very best in women's professional basketball from around the world," said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. "In just the few months I've been with the WNBA, I have had an opportunity to meet each of the current players on this list as well as some of the legends who paved the way. I have found that they are not only tremendous athletes who have reached extraordinary heights on the court, but also terrific women who give unselfishly of their time in the community. I am proud to be associated with these outstanding women; and I am so pleased for them that the fans, media members, and the current generation of players and coaches, have chosen to recognize and honor them."
A panel comprising media members and basketball experts selected the 30-nominee ballot, giving consideration to such factors as oncourt performance and ability, leadership, sportsmanship, and community service, as well as to contributions to team success and the overall growth of women's basketball.
Voting for the league's Top 15 Players of All Time began on June 23 and was conducted among fans, who voted on WNBA.com, by select national and WNBA-market media, and by current players and coaches. The league weighted each of three voting groups to account for an equal percentage of the total vote.
"This list of 15 players is composed of exciting and dominating players from start to finish and highlighted by players of all kinds scorers, playmakers, ballhandlers, rebounders, defensive wizards, leaders, and players who have brought out the best in their teammates," added WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations Renee Brown, who has been an executive with the WNBA since its inception. "I cannot think of 15 more deserving women to represent the more than 700 players who have taken the court wearing the WNBA logo on their uniform during our 15-year history."
The WNBA's Top 15 Players of all time:
Name WNBA Team (Current/Last) Previous Team(s)
Sue Bird Seattle Storm (2002-Current)
Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever (2002-Current)
Cynthia Cooper* Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2003)
Yolanda Griffith* Indiana Fever (2009) Sacramento Monarchs (1999-2007), Seattle Storm (2008)
Becky Hammon San Antonio Silver Stars (07-Current) New York Liberty (1999-2006)
Lauren Jackson Seattle Storm (2001-Current)
Lisa Leslie* Los Angeles Sparks (1997-2006, 2008-2009)
Ticha Penicheiro Los Angeles Sparks (2010-Current) Sacramento Monarchs (1998-2009)
Cappie Pondexter New York Liberty (2010-Current) Phoenix Mercury (2006-2009)
Katie Smith Seattle Storm (Current) Minnesota Lynx (1999-2005), Detroit Shock (2005-2009), Washington Mystics (2010)
Dawn Staley* Houston Comets (2006-2006) Charlotte Sting (1999-2005)
Sheryl Swoopes Tulsa Shock (Current) Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2002-2007), Seattle Storm (2008)
Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury (2004-Current)
Tina Thompson Los Angeles Sparks (2009-Current) Houston Comets (1997-2008)
Teresa Weatherspoon* Los Angeles Sparks (2004) New York Liberty (1997-2003)
"I'm absolutely flattered, though I think it's really important to recognize some of the players who helped create a foundation for our game even before the WNBA - people like Cheryl Miller, Nancy Lieberman, Ann Meyers," said Tamika Catchings, All-Star forward for the Indiana Fever. "They put our league on the map. I'm honored to be included in the same sentence as them."
"I don't know where to begin. To be voted as one of the Top 15 Players of All Time leaves me speechless. I have an overwhelming feeling of joy and appreciation," added WNBA legend Teresa Weatherspoon. "It tells me my hard work didn't go unnoticed, and to be voted in by the fans makes it even more special to me. The fans are the people I played before each and every night. All I can say is thank you!"