The WNBA unveiled over Labor Day weekend its 25 all-time players list, but as usual it got mostly ignored by the male-dominated sports media save for #WNBA Twitter.
“I wanted to recognize the greats who are somewhat underappreciated, so that’s why a few players are missing,” tweeted @JasTayler, who gave the MSR permission to use her tweets where warranted.
The selection criteria that a group of chosen media commentators and others used were that players must have played at least two seasons and met four of seven criteria:
- won a major individual award
- selected to All-WNBA First or Second Team
- selected to All-Defensive First or Second Team
- selected to WNBA All-Star Games
- won a championship
- currently ranked among the top 40 leaders in one major statistical category
- received the WNBA Community Assist Award.
Our criteria included the above, but also the impact the player had on the league’s 25-year existence. More importantly, our W25 all-time list, in no particular order, are all Black women.
CHERYL FORD (2003-09) – 3-time champion, 2-time 2nd team all-W, 2007 All Star MVP, 2003 Rookie of the Year, 2-time rebounding champion.
REBEKKAH BRUNSON (2004-18) – Only W player to win five championships, five-time All Star, 2011 First Team All-Defensive, 6-time 2nd team All Defensive.
PLENETTE PIERSON (2003-17) – 3-time champion, 2007 6th Woman of the Year, 2015 All Star.
DEANNA “TWEETY” NOLAN (2001-09) – 3-time champion, 2006 Finals MVP, 5-time All Star, 2-time First Team All-W, 2003 Second Team, WNBA Top 20@20 (2016). “[Her] career in the WNBA could’ve been longer but she decided to play overseas in Russia full time due to salary reasons,” said @JasTayler.
CHAMIQUE HOLDSCLAW (1999-07; 2009-10) – Rookie of The Year, 6-time All Star, 3-time 2nd Team, 2002 scoring and rebounding champ, 2-time rebounding champion.
DAWN STALEY (1999-2006) – WNBA Top 15 (2011), 6-time All Star. “One of the greatest basketball minds on the planet,” said @JasTayler. “One of the greatest defenders ever.”
TERESA EDWARDS (2003-04) – The oldest rookie ever drafted (38 years old). Led Minnesota to its first two playoff appearances (2003-04).
TAJ MCWILLIAMS-FRANKLIN (1999-2012) – 2-time champion, 6-time All Star, 2-time 2nd team, 2005 All Defensive 2nd team, all-time offensive rebounder leader.
TERESA WITHERSPOON (1997-04) – One of the W’s original players. League’s first Defensive Player of the Year (1997, 1998), 2-time steals champ, 5-time All Star, W’s Top 15 (2011), Top 20@20 (2016). Started first five All Star Games. Forever known for “The Shot” she made in the 1999 Finals.
KIM PERROT (1997-98) – 3-time champion, died of cancer at age 32 in 1999. Sportsmanship Award is named for her.
JANETH ARCAIN (1997-03, 2005) – 4-time champion, 2001 All Star, 2001 Most Improved Player, 1st team All-W (2001).
VICKIE JOHNSON (1997-09) – First New York Liberty player to score 2,000 points, 2-time All Star, 2008 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.
CANDICE DUPREE (2006-present) – 2004 champion, 7-time All Star, 2006 All-Rookie Team.
NYKESHA SALES (1999-07) – 8-time All Star. Once had the second longest starting streak (248 games), 2004 steals co-leader, 2004 second team.
NIKKI TEASLEY (2002-08) – 2002 champion, 2-time All Star, 2003 All Star Game MVP, 2-time 2nd team, 2-time assists leader.
TANGELA SMITH (1998-2012) – 2-time champion, 2006 All Star. Only missed 15 games her entire career.
RENEE MONTGOMERY (2009-20) – 2-time champion, 2012 6th Woman of the Year, 2011 All Star. First former player to become a co-owner (Atlanta, 2020).
MWADI MABIKA (1997-2008) – 3-time All Star, 2-time champion, 2002 1st team. Zaire-born, U.S. citizen since 2011.
ALANA BEARD (2004-19) – 2016 champion, 4-time All Star, 2006 2nd team, 2-time Defensive Player of the Year, 5-time All-Defensive 1st team, 4-time 2nd team.
DEWANNA BONNER (2009-present) – 2-time champion, 4-time All Star, 2015 1st team, 2020 2nd team, 3-time 6th Woman.
KRISTI TOLIVER (2009-present) – 2-time champion, 2012 2nd team, 3-time All Star, 2012 Most Improved.
SHAVONTE ZELLOUS (2009-present) – 2012 champion, 2013 All Star, 2013 Most Improved, 2009 All Rookie.
NATALIE WILLIAMS (1999-2005) – 4-time All Star, 3-time 1st team.
CHELSEY GRAY (2014-present) – 2016 champion, 4-time All Star, 2019 1st team
SKYLAR DIGGINS-SMITH (2013-present) – 5-time All Star, 2-time 1st team, 2-time 2nd team, 2013 All Rookie, 2014 Most Improved.
A’JA WILSON (2018-present) – 2020 MVP, 3-time All Star, 2018 Rookie of The Year, 2020 1st team, 2020 All Defensive 2nd team, 2020 blocks leader.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.