September 5, 2021
25 greatest players in WNBA history revealed
W25 includes 23 of 24 regular-season league MVPs
Sunday afternoon, the WNBA unveiled its “W25” list of the greatest and most influential players in league history.
“Throughout this season, the WNBA and our fans are celebrating the impact the WNBA has made on sports and society over a quarter of a century,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a statement. “I can think of no better way to honor those responsible for that impact than by unveiling the members of this prestigious group, The W25. These athletes have played the game at the highest level on the court – they are scorers and rebounders, assist makers and defensive stoppers, leaders and mentors.
“In the community, they have powerful voices, individually and collectively, speaking out on important issues in our society. Together, they have transformed the way the game is played, changed the way athletes are viewed, become incredible role models, and inspired generations of young, diverse athletes.”
The W25 was selected from an original list of 72 nominees chosen based on a combination of factors including on-court performance and contributions as well as off-the-court leadership. From that list, a panel of media members and women’s basketball pioneers and advocates voted for their list of 25 below:
Seimone Augustus: Minnesota Lynx (2006-19), Los Angeles Sparks (2020)
Sue Bird: Seattle Storm (2002-present)
Swin Cash: Detroit Shock (2002-07), Seattle Storm (2008-11), Chicago Sky (2012-13), Atlanta Dream (2014), New York Liberty (2014-16)
Tamika Catchings: Indiana Fever (2002-16)
Tina Charles: Connecticut Sun (2010-13), New York Liberty (2014-19), Washington Mystics (Current)
Cynthia Cooper: Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2003)
Elena Delle Donne: Chicago Sky (2013-2016), Washington Mystics (2017-Current)
Sylvia Fowles: Chicago Sky (2008-14), Minnesota Lynx (2015-present)
Yolanda Griffith: Sacramento Monarchs (1999-2007), Seattle Storm (2008), Indiana Fever (2009)
Brittney Griner: Phoenix Mercury (2013-present)
Becky Hammon: New York Liberty (1999-2006), San Antonio Stars (2007-2014)
Lauren Jackson: Seattle Storm (2001-12)
Lisa Leslie: Los Angeles Sparks (1997-2006, 2008-09)
Angel McCoughtry: Atlanta Dream (2009-2016, 2018-19), Las Vegas Aces (2020-present)
Maya Moore: Minnesota Lynx (2011-18)
Nneka Ogwumike: Los Angeles Sparks (2012-present)
Candace Parker: Los Angeles Sparks (2008-20), Chicago Sky (Current)
Ticha Penicheiro: Sacramento Monarchs (1998-2009), Los Angeles Sparks (2010-11), Chicago Sky (2012)
Cappie Pondexter: Phoenix Mercury (2006-09), New York Liberty (2010-14), Chicago Sky (2015-17), Los Angeles/Indiana (2018)
Katie Smith: Minnesota Lynx (1999-2005), Detroit Shock (2005-2009), Washington Mystics (2010), Seattle Storm (2011-12), New York Liberty (2013)
Breanna Stewart: Seattle Storm (2016-present)
Sheryl Swoopes: Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2002-2007), Seattle Storm (2008), Tulsa Shock (2011)
Diana Taurasi: Phoenix Mercury (2004-2014, 2016-Current)
Tina Thompson: Houston Comets (1997-2008), Los Angeles Sparks (2009-11), Seattle Storm (2012-13)
Lindsay Whalen: Connecticut Sun (2004-09), Minnesota Lynx (2010-18)
This legendary list includes seven 4-time WNBA champions (Augustus, Bird, Cooper, Moore, Swoopes, Thompson, Whalen) and two 3-time WNBA champions in Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi. Fowles, Jackson, Leslie, Pondexter, Smith and Stewart each have 2 WNBA championship rings.
Fifteen colleges are represented on this list including six Connecticut alumni (Bird, Cash, Charles, Moore, Stewart, Taurasi), three Southern California alumni (Cooper, Leslie, Thompson) and two each from LSU (Augustus and Fowles) and Tennessee (Catchings and Parker). Ten players belong to an exclusive group that has won an NCAA championship, a WNBA champion and an Olympic gold medal (Bird, Cash, Catchings, Cooper, Griner, Moore, Parker, Stewart, Swoopes, Taurasi).
As for individual honors, the W25 includes ten players who were named WNBA Rookie of the Year (Catchings, 2002; Taurasi, 2004; Augustus, 2006; Parker, 2008; McCoughtry, 2009; Charles, 2010; Moore, 2011; Ogwumike, 2012; Delle Donne, 2013; Stewart, 2016). The members of this list represent 23 of 24 total regular-season MVPs. The only regular-season MVP not included on this list is 2020 regular season MVP A’ja Wilson. Four players have won the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season including Griffith in 1999, Jackson in 2007, Leslie in 2004 and Swoopes in both 2000 and 2002.
Fans can vote for their WNBA greatest of all time (GOAT) from The W25 list. Votes can be cast until 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 19 with the hashtag #WNBAGoatVote on Twitter, on WNBA.com or on the WNBA App. The GOAT will be announced during the 2021 WNBA Finals.
Written by Tee Baker
Tee is a women's basketball reporter and historian. As an author at The Next, Tee covers the BIG EAST conference and contributes articles and media featuring the WBL, the first professional women's basketball league in the United States.
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