For 20 weeks, to commemorate the WNBA’s 20th season (the MSR having covered each
season), the MSR sports section is featuring a column or article on the W in our “20 in 20” series.
This week: Watch them work
Like the ’60s series Naked City, there are thousands of WNBA stories to tell: Such as Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash — both players will wind up their respective stellar careers this post-season before retiring this fall. Cash and Catchings are the only W players in league history to score 5,000 points, 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists for a career.
Catchings last week passed Lisa Leslie as the WNBA’s all-time rebounding leader. She will finish her career second in scoring, first in steals, and first in made free throws. “She is someone who really takes pride on both sides of the basketball,” marveled Lynx forward Maya Moore on Catchings.
“Her legacy really has been about getting into the community and getting the name of the WNBA out, really expanding the brand of the league,” said ESPN Analyst LaChina Robinson of Cash. “What she’s done as part of the players association is part of her legacy,” Robinson pointed out.
Chicago’s Cappie Pondexter also passed Leslie for fifth place on the all-time scoring list. “To still be playing and pass her up says a lot,” noted the seven-time all-star on a recent media conference call, which included the MSR. “I’m overwhelmed by it, but grateful that God allowed me to play so many years of basketball to accomplish [it].”
Tayler Hill, the only Minneapolis-born active player, finished her fourth season on a scoring tear, pouring in 21 points a game as the Washington Mystics stayed in playoff contention until the season’s final week.
“She’s had a real good year,” said Coach Mike Thibault to the MSR. “Her scoring average and defense has gotten better. I think she’s first or second in getting to the free-throw line. She keeps getting better all the time,” he said.
“I’m doing all right,” added Hill humbly.
Nneka Ogwumike’s play this season for Los Angeles puts her in line for perhaps her first league MVP honors. “She is having an incredible season,” remarked teammate Candice Parker. “I think the thing that people don’t know is that she’s the same person” since coming in the league a few seasons ago, added Parker, a former MVP. “She is consistent in her desire to work, to get better, her desire to listen and improve, and be the type of leader that she is. I am really happy for her and to be her teammate.”
W tidbits — In case you missed it:
- Every letter of the English alphabet has been represented in the WNBA throughout its 20-year history. WNBA.com’s historical players archive shows that at least 53 players’ last name starts with “M,” including Minneapolis native Tamara Moore, the Minnesota Lynx’s first and only city-born player. “I can show [young girls] my uniform and my pictures,” said Moore proudly.
The letters “B” and “S” both have had 48 players; There has been 41 players with the letter “W” and one player each whose last name starts with a “Q” or an “X.”
- Pondexter’s teammate, Chicago rookie center Imani Boyette, was successful in her one-person recruiting effort to get rapper 50 Cent to attend a Sky game this season: He was in the stands and watched her in action in Chicago’s one-point overtime victory over Minnesota last week. “Everybody knows I’m a super-fan,” admitted Boyette. “It’s nice to have 50 Cent in the crowd.”
- The W’s 20th regular season ended as the highest-scoring year in league history (81.95 points a game), which breaks the previous record of 80.3 points set in 2010.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.