In the fall of 1892, women’s basketball has begun at Smith College.
Prejudice followed them with the pressure of the Victorian culture and knee-length skirts, yet those didn’t stop them to enter the league history.
On April 24, 1996, the press conference with Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie, and Sheryl Swoopes in attendance opened the doors of a reality that was once nothing more than a distant dream: being a professional basketball player.
Professional women’s basketball have officially started its journey in 1997 but now, the Women’s National Basketball Association is full of legendary players.
Let’s remember the women’s game legends that shaped the WNBA players association and league history.
Women’s National Basketball Association
The Women’s National Basketball Association is a professional basketball league in the US.
The league was founded on April 22, 1996, as the women’s counterpart to NBA and currently contains twelve teams:
- Indiana Fever,
- Los Angeles Sparks,
- Minnesota Lynx,
- New York Liberty,
- Phoenix Mercury,
- Atlanta Dream,
- Chicago Sky,
- Connecticut Sun,
- Dallas Wings,
- Las Vegas Aces,
- Seattle Storm,
- Washington Mystics.
Relocate teams include Detroit Shock, Orlando Miracle, Utah Starzz, Tulsa Shock, and San Antonio Stars.
Folded teams are Charlotte Sting, Cleveland Rockers, Houston Comets, Miami Sol, Portland Fire, and Sacramento Monarchs.
It’s now home to many successful WNBA players.
Named the WNBA Championships until 2002, WNBA Finals are the championship series of the Women’s National Basketball Association and are played postseason each fall.
WNBA Finals are played between the champions of the playoff semifinals.
Houston Comets and Seattle Storm remain as only teams without a loss in their WNBA Finals appearances.
Women’s National Basketball Association has been home to many legends ever since its establishment.
Such as professional basketball player Cynthia Cooper, who has her name in the hall of fame.
Three-time MVP Lauren Jackson, two-time WNBA champion Sue Bird, Three-time MVP Lisa Leslie.
Five-time All-star Angel McCoughtry and four-time All-star Ticha Penicheiro.
Each of them wrote their names to WNBA history with their legendary performances.
Extensively acknowledged as the face of the Women’s National Basketball Association, former professional basketball player Lisa Leslie is a three-time WNBA MVP, an eight-time All-Star, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, three-time All-Star Game MVP, and a four-time Olympic gold medal champion.
Lisa Leslie has played in Los Angeles Sparks for 12 seasons from 1997 to 2009 and is currently the head coach for Triplets.
Her career stats contain 363 games.
Accepted as one of the greatest legends in WNBA history, Lisa Leslie was chosen as the Sportswoman of the Year at the 27th Annual March of Dimes Sports Luncheon.
Unlike many other WNBA players, Cynthia Cooper had an 11-year career playing overseas.
She played in Europe as a professional basketball player before joining the Women’s National Basketball Association in 1997.
The dominant, professional basketball player of the Houston Comets played for 5 seasons and gathered many rankings and titles during her professional career.
Her career stats possess 124 games.
Three-time All-Star, four consecutive WNBA championships, two-time MVP, four-time Finals MVP, and three consecutive WNBA points leader.
Cynthia Cooper is the first all-time in points per game and successfully led the Houston Comets to four titles.
In 1998, Cynthia Cooper became the first player to reach 1000 points.
As a four-time finals MVP, Cynthia Cooper is the only WNBA player who has her name on the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and is believed to become a complete basketball player with her elevated career points.
The power forward, former professional basketball player Lauren Jackson had been active for 12 seasons between 2001 and 2012.
Her career stats include 317 games, which she completed as the legendary player of the Seattle Storm.
Seven-time All-Star Games, Finals MVP in 2010, three-time WNBA MVP, and Defensive Player of the year 2007, Lauren Jackson built her name unfailingly in the history of Seattle Storm and the Women’s National Basketball Association.
With many worldwide accomplishments and four-time Olympic medals, Lauren Jackson has been listed as one of the best WNBA players and power forward of all time.
Four-time WNBA champion and twelve-time All-Star Sue Bird has been an active professional basketball player.
She’s point guard for Seattle Storm of the Women’s National Basketball Association ever since 2002.
Sue Bird has spent all of her 18-year career with Seattle Storm and her career stats include 549 games, still continuing.
With her team, Sue Bird managed to win championships and Olympic Gold medals.
Sue Bird has been admired for her passion as she attended a game with a mask despite her broken nose and has been named as one of the greatest point guards in WNBA history.
She has two WNBA championships and is a basketball player called back to Team USA at the Olympics or the World Championships.
Tina Charles started her basketball career in 2010 and has been playing for 11 seasons as a power forward professional basketball player ever since.
She has been a member of Connecticut Sun, New York Liberty, and Washington Mystics.
Her career stats contain 357 games.
Named as defender’s nightmare, Tina Charles was chosen as Rookie of the Year in 2010, eight-time All-Star, five-time First-Team selection, WNBA MVP, two-time scoring champion, and four-time rebounding champion.
WNBA versatile and professional basketball player Tina Thompson started her career in 1997.
She increased her career stats with her ethics and achievements during the 17 seasons she played for Houston Comets, Los Angeles Sparks, and Seattle Storm.
Although Thompson stated she didn’t dream of becoming a professional basketball player, she has even been head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers women’s basketball team from 2018 to 2022.
Tina Thompson is a nine-time All-Star, and one-time All-Star Game MVP of the Women’s National Basketball Association.
Her career stats include 496 games.
The WNBA player of Los Angeles Sparks and Chicago Sky, Candace Parker has been playing ever since 2008 for 14 seasons.
Her career stats prove her success with 360 games and explain the reason for her being one of the most important names in the Women’s National Basketball Association.
Candace Parker is a two-time MVP, a one-time All-Star MVP, and a six-time All-Star.
Her career highlights are:
The 2002 WNBA finals, where Candace Parker helped the Los Angeles Sparks to win the title of their first final.
The 2021 WNBA Championships, where she helped Chicago Sky to win their first championships.
Now a retired professional basketball player, point guard Katie Smith started her WNBA career in 1999.
She played 15 seasons for Minnesota Lynx, Detroit Shock, Washington Mystics, Seattle Storm, and New York Liberty.
She is a seven-time All-Star, two-time All-WNBA First Team, her career stats contain 482 games.
Katie Smith started as a scorer and later, with the advice of her head coach, she took over as point guard.
She is the former head coach of the New York Liberty and current lead assistant coach for the Minnesota Lynx of the Women’s National Basketball Association.
Another important name in the women’s basketball player list is Yolanda Griffith.
A reliable scorer that played for Sacramento Monarchs, Seattle Storm, and Indiana Fever for 11 seasons between 1999 to 2009.
Although she didn’t become rookie of the year, in her rookie season Yolanda Griffith became MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.
The WNBA player was also a seven-time All-Star, her career stats possessing 311 games.
The two-time WNBA champion, point guard Diana Taurasi is another important name in the women’s basketball player index.
Diana Taurasi began play for Phoenix Mercury in 2004 and has been an active basketball player for 17 seasons.
In 2009, she obtained MVP awards for both the regular season and Finals, her career stats include 472 games.
The four-time champion Sheryl Swoopes started in 1997 and played for Houston Comets, Seattle Storm, and Tulsa Shock for 12 seasons.
Her career stats contain 324 games.
Specified by her defensive prowess, her career stats include three-time Defensive Player of the year, seven-time all WNBA team selection, three-time MVP, a six-time All-Star, one-time All-Star MVP, and a five-time First Team selection.
League history of the Women’s National Basketball Association is full of successful WNBA players, from scorer and point guard to power forward, who inducted their names into the hall of fame of many fans’ memories.
Most of them holding the player of the year title, they had played in teams such as Los Angeles Sparks, Chicago Sky, Atlanta Dream, Connecticut Sun, Indiana Fever and other teams under WNBA.