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The 25 best WNBA players of all time

Maya Moore won four championships with the Lynx before stepping away from the game in 2019. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Over the weekend, the WNBA unveiled “The W25,” a list of the 25 greatest and most influential players in league history as voted on by media members and women’s basketball pioneers selected by the WNBA.

The list included ten current and 15 former players. The current players honored were Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowles, Brittney Griner, Angel McCoughtry, Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker, Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi. The retired players were Seimone Augustus, Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Cynthia Cooper, Yolanda Griffith, Becky Hammon, Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, Maya Moore, Ticha Penicheiro, Cappie Pondexter, Katie Smith, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson and Lindsay Whalen.

We decided to approach the WNBA Top 25 from a different angle, asking those who have played, coached and been directly involved in the WNBA to select the 25 greatest players of all time. The 30 people we surveyed included former WNBA players as well as current and former WNBA head coaches, assistant coaches, general managers and team staff members.

Our voting process also differed from the official W25, which required candidates to meet a certain criteria to be included on the final ballot of 75 players. Ours listed players such as Candice Dupree and Vickie Johnson (who were absent from the WNBA ballot) and gave voters the option to write in the names of players they believed deserved recognition.

While the results of our survey had only one major difference from the W25 — the selection of Deanna Nolan over Swin Cash — the percentage of votes each player received sheds more light on the hierarchy. We’ve also listed the players who just missed out on selection into the top 25, some of whom might come as a surprise.

(Note: Players are listed by % of votes received and then alphabetically.)

1. Tamika Catchings — 30/30 votes (100%)

Catchings’ unanimous inclusion was a no-brainer. The forward spent her entire 15-year WNBA career with the Indiana Fever. Named Rookie of the Year in 2002, she would go on to make 10 All-Star Game appearances and earn seven WNBA First Team selections. She also became the only player in the WNBA or NBA to win five Defensive Player of the Year awards. In 2012, Catchings led the Fever to their first and only championship and was named Finals MVP. Five years later, the Fever retired her No. 24.

2. Maya Moore — 30/30 (100%)

In just eight seasons, Moore cemented herself as one of the most dominant players in the sport with the trophy case to prove it. Drafted first overall by the Lynx in 2011, she was named Rookie of the Year and was the driving force behind the franchise’s four championships in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. Before stepping away from basketball to focus on criminal justice reform and free Jonathan Irons from a wrongful prison conviction, Moore was a six-time All-Star, a WNBA MVP and a Finals MVP.

Sheryl Swoopes, pictured here playing for Team USA, set numerous records with the Houston Comets. (Doug Pensinger/Allsport via Getty Images)

3. Sheryl Swoopes — 30/30 (100%)

During her 12-year WNBA career, Swoopes was a four-time champion with the Houston Comets, a three-time MVP, a six-time All Star and a five-time First Team selection. Swoopes was also the WNBA’s first three-time Defensive Player of the Year in 2000, 2002 and 2003 and the first player ever to record a triple-double in the regular season and in playoffs. In 1997, Swoopes became the first women’s basketball player to have a Nike signature shoe, the “Air Swoopes.” (Fun fact: I still have mine.)

4. Diana Taurasi — 30/30 (100%)

Taurasi and her warehouse of accolades left no room for debate as a unanimous Top 25 pick. The three-time WNBA champion, ten-time All-Star and former league MVP is also the league’s all-time leading scorer (and counting). In 2011, Taurasi was named one of the Top 15 Players of All Time. In 2016, she earned a spot on the WNBA Top 20@20. Taurasi has long been in consideration as the greatest women’s basketball player of all time, and she has my vote.

5. Sue Bird — 28/30 (93%)

The most shocking result of this exercise was that Bird, a four-time WNBA champion and 12-time All-Star, did not receive 100 percent of the vote. Bird is the only player to have won a championship in three different decades during her 18-year WNBA career, which isn’t over yet. The current WNBA all-time assists leader is considered one of the greatest facilitators and floor generals in the history of the sport.

Sue Bird is the all-time assists leader in the WNBA. (Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

6. Cynthia Cooper — 28/30 (93%)

For all Cooper did for the game of basketball, I was surprised that this vote was not unanimous. At the age of 34, Cooper led the Comets franchise to four consecutive WNBA championships from 1997-2000. In three of those seasons, she also led the league in scoring. Cooper was named a four-time Finals MVP, two-time MVP and three-time All-Star during her five-year WNBA career.

7. Candace Parker — 28/30 (93%)

Parker came onto the national basketball scene at a young age and rose to prominence quickly in the pros. In 2008, Parker became the first player to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in the same season. She is also the second player ever to dunk in a WNBA game. Parker, a six-time WNBA All-Star, led the league in rebounds three times and won the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year award. After 13 years with the Los Angeles Sparks, she signed with her hometown Chicago Sky this past offseason.

8. Sylvia Fowles — 27/30 (90%)

It is impossible to discuss the WNBA’s greatest players of all time without Fowles, who is still one of the most dominant players in the league in her 14th season. The 6-foot-6 center is a former MVP and two-time WNBA champion. In 2020, the seven-time All-Star became the WNBA’s all-time leading rebounder.

9. Lauren Jackson — 27/30 (90%)

During her 12 seasons with the Seattle Storm, Lauren Jackson was virtually impossible to defend. A two-time WNBA champion, seven-time All-Star, three-time MVP and one-time Finals MVP, Jackson left one of the most definitive legacies with a single franchise. She has been named to every possible all-time WNBA player list, including the All Decade, Top 15 and 20@20.

10. Seimone Augustus — 26/30 (87%)

In 15 seasons, Augustus gave us one of the nastiest crossovers and mid-range pull-ups the game has ever seen. Augustus finished her career as a four-time WNBA champion with the Lynx, an eight-time All-Star and a 2011 Finals MVP. She also ranks 11th on the all-time scoring list with 6,005 career points. Augustus, now an assistant coach with the Sparks, deserves to be in the top half of this list for all she accomplished in the league.

Lisa Leslie was one of the first faces of the WNBA. (Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

11. Lisa Leslie — 26/30 (87%)

The three-time WNBA MVP is well known as one of the first faces of the league. Leslie played a key role in the league’s inaugural game in 1997 and was the first player to dunk in a WNBA game in 2002. She is the career points and rebounds leader for the Sparks franchise, who in 2010 retired her No. 9 jersey. Leslie was voted to the list of the Top 15 Players of All-Time in 2011 and to the Top 20@20 in 2016. Leslie is another one I would have picked as a unanimous selection.

12. Tina Thompson — 26/30 (87%)

The Houston Comets selected Thompson in 1997 as the first draft pick in WNBA history. Thompson would go on to win four championships as part of the Comets’ dynasty. The nine-time All-Star was also named the All-Star Game MVP in 2000. After a 17-year career, Thompson retired as the league’s all-time leading scorer with 7,448 points, a mark Taurasi surpassed in 2017.

13. Katie Smith — 25/30 (83%)

Smith finished her playing career as the eighth all-time leading scorer in the WNBA with 6,452 points. Before the WNBA, she led the ABL’s Columbus Quest to two straight championships in 1997 and 1998, the two years the league existed. Smith went on to play in the WNBA for 14 seasons and lead the Detroit Shock to two WNBA championships in 2006 and 2008. Smith, now an assistant coach with the Minnesota Lynx, has been named to the WNBA All-Decade, Top 15 Players of All Time and 20@20 teams. She was the 2001 scoring champion and a seven-time All-Star.

For all Breanna Stewart has accomplished already, she's only 27 years old. (Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

14. Breanna Stewart — 25/30 (83%)

It’s hard to keep up with the pace of Stewart’s accomplishments since she joined the league in 2016. Stewart followed up a Rookie of the Year award that season with two WNBA championships, a league MVP and two Finals MVPs. She’s also a favorite to win the MVP award again this season. Stewart has quickly climbed the WNBA player ranks and, at 27 years old, has only scratched the surface of the prime of her career. Stewart has a legitimate shot to finish her career as the greatest WNBA player of all time.

15. Elena Delle Donne — 23/30 (77%)

The two-time league MVP led the Chicago Sky to the WNBA Finals in 2014 and the Washington Mystics to their first-ever WNBA championship in 2019. In that span, she was selected to six All-Star teams. In 2019, Delle Donne became the first and only WNBA player to join the 50-40-90 club, which means she shot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the 3-point line and 90 percent from the free-throw line during the season. Delle Donne’s health after two back surgeries could determine where she ends up on the all-time hierarchy at the end of her career.

16. Brittney Griner — 22/30 (73%)

Griner single-handedly took the WNBA to the next level with her imposing size, dominance in the paint and ability to throw it down. The 6-foot-9 center became the third player to dunk in a WNBA game and the first player to do so twice in a single game. Griner is a seven-time All-Star, a two-time scoring champion and a seven-time blocks leader. She won a championship with the Mercury in 2014 and is currently in the conversation for 2021 MVP.

17. Yolanda Griffith — 21/30 (70%)

Griffith could flat-out play. As one of the greatest rebounders, defensive players and efficient scorers in the history of the WNBA, she won the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in 1999 and went on to set the single-season offensive rebounding record in 2001 with 162. In 2005, she led the Sacramento Monarchs to their first WNBA championship and was named Finals MVP.

18. Cappie Pondexter — 21/30 (70%)

Pondexter was named to both the Top 15 Players of All Time and the 20@20 following an impressive 13-year WNBA career. In 2009, she became the first player in league history to win three consecutive Western Conference Player of the Week honors. The two-time WNBA champion was named Finals MVP in 2007 and made seven All-Star Game appearances. Pondexter’s scoring dominance, especially in the early parts of her career, were undeniable, earning her a deserved spot on this list.

19. Lindsay Whalen — 21/30 (70%)

Whalen was the floor general for the Lynx during their dynasty years. The three-time WNBA single-season assists leader finished her career as the all-time playoff assists leader with 341. Whalen was also named to five All-Star Games and three WNBA First Teams. Now head coach of the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team, Whalen had her No. 13 jersey retired in Minnesota following her playing career.

Tina Charles spent six seasons with her hometown Liberty before signing with the Mystics last year. (Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

20. Tina Charles — 20/30 (67%)

With nearly every possible individual accolade on her resume, Charles is just missing a WNBA championship. The No. 1 pick of the Connecticut Sun in 2010, Charles was crowned Rookie of the Year. Two years later, she won the league MVP award and is in the conversation again this season, leading the league with 24.8 points per game for Washington. Charles is an eight-time All-Star, five-time First-Team selection, two-time All-Defensive Team and four-time rebounding champion.

21. Angel McCoughtry — 20/30 (67%)

McCoughtry, the 2009 first overall draft pick and Rookie of the Year with the Atlanta Dream, is one of the most dominant scorers in league history. The five-time All-Star led the Dream to three WNBA Finals appearances but never quite had the pieces around her to win a championship. During her ten WNBA seasons, McCoughtry has averaged 19 points per game and currently ranks 15th on the WNBA’s all-time scoring list.

22. Becky Hammon — 18/30 (60%)

Hammon never won a championship during her 16-year WNBA career, but she led her teams to playoff appearances in 13 of those seasons. Hammon left her mark as one of the game’s greatest playmakers, currently ranked sixth in all-time assists with 1,708. The San Antonio Stars retired her No. 25 jersey in 2016. Now an assistant coach in the NBA, Hammon was recognized on the WNBA’s Top 15 and 20@20 teams.

23. Ticha Penicheiro — 17/30 (57%)

Penicheiro, considered one of the best point guards in the WNBA, dazzled fans with her no-look, behind-the-back passes for 15 seasons. She led the Sacramento Monarchs to a WNBA championship in 2005, which makes me wonder how she didn’t end up higher on this list. A four-time All-Star, Penicheiro was named to the WNBA First Team twice in her career and is currently second on the all-time assists list. She led the league in assists for seven seasons during her career.

24. Deanna Nolan — 14/30 (47%)

The lone difference in our Top 25 versus the WNBA’s, Nolan was a driving force behind the success of the Detroit Shock in the early 2000s. The guard led the franchise to three WNBA championships in 2003, 2006 and 2008 and was named Finals MVP in 2006. A five-time All-Star, Nolan was listed among the Top 20 Players of All-Time in 2016 despite playing in the league for just nine seasons.

25. Nneka Ogwumike — 14/30 (47%)

Selected first overall in 2012, the Los Angeles Sparks forward went on to win Rookie of the Year. Ogwumike has since become a leader and spokesperson for the WNBA on and off the court as the president of the WNBA Players Association. In 2016, she was named MVP after leading the Sparks to their third championship in franchise history. The six-time All-Star has also earned four All-Defensive First Team selections in her ten seasons.

Who Just Missed Out:

A’ja Wilson — 13/30 (43%)
Dawn Staley — 13/30 (43%)
Teresa Weatherspoon — 11/30 (37%)
Swin Cash — 10/30 (33%)
Rebekkah Brunson — 9/30 (30%)

Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas Re-Signs with Barcelona on Two-Year Deal

Alexia Putellas on the field for barcelona
The two-time Ballon d’Or winner has been with Barcelona for 12 years. (Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Alexia Putellas has re-signed with FC Barcelona on a new two-year deal that will run through 2026. The agreement includes an option for a one-year extension. 

The two-time Ballon d’Or winner has been with Barcelona for 12 years, and her previous contract was set to expire next month. However, she’s spent the better part of the last two seasons battling injuries, starting with an ACL tear that kept her out of the 2022 UEFA European Women's Football Championship and limited her participation in Spain’s FIFA Women's World Cup win last summer. 

Putellas returned in March from her latest injury setback, making 25 appearances across all competitions for Barcelona this season and scoring 10 goals. 

In total, the midfielder has made 400 appearances for Barcelona. Among her 20 major trophies with the club include eight Liga F titles and two UEFA Champions League titles — including helping the team to its first European trophy in 2021. 

She then won the Ballon d’Or in back-to-back seasons in 2021 and 2022. 

Putellas could add a third Champions League trophy next weekend, when Barcelona faces familiar foe Lyon, a team they’ve lost to in two previous Champions League finals. Should they secure the UWCL, they would win the quadruple for the first time, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

WNBA on Pace for Record-Breaking Season

onquel Jones #35 of the New York Liberty rebounds during the game against the Indiana Fever on May 18, 2024 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn
Indiana's game against New York on Saturday was the most-watched WNBA game to ever air on ABC. (Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

The WNBA continues its historic trajectory one week into the season, with attendance and viewership skyrocketing across the board. 

Indiana’s Saturday game against the New York Liberty was the most-watched WNBA game ever on ABC, drawing 1.71 million viewers. The Sparks vs. Aces matchup that followed became the third most-watched WNBA game broadcast on ABC with 1.34 million viewers.

On Monday, the tense finish between Indiana and Connecticut drew 1.56 million viewers to ESPN, the second most-watched WNBA game to ever air on cable.

Outside of the league’s viewership, both in-person attendance and merchandise sales have also been on a meteoric rise. On Saturday, the game between New York and Indiana shattered the single-game ticket revenue record in the WNBA, with the Liberty pulling in $2 million in sales. 

New York and Indiana played their home openers in front of more than 17,000 fans, with attendance up 14% year-over-year, according to the league. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Aces, the Liberty, the Wings, the Dream, and others have already sold out of their 2024 season ticket allotments.

Since April’s WNBA Draft, revenue from the WNBA’s official online store is up 2,260%, already blowing past total sales for the entire 2023 season.

While the numbers may cool somewhat as teams settle into their seasons, the pop in demand has already overwhelmingly delivered for the WNBA in 2024.

Angel Reese Adds USL Team Owner to Growing Résumé

chicago sky rookie angel reese speaking at an event
Star rookie Angel Reese is all in on the USL Super League. (JC Olivera/Variety via Getty Images)

Chicago Sky rookie Angel Reese continues to add to her résumé, becoming the newest member of the DC Power Football Club’s ownership group

The No. 7 pick in the WNBA draft joins an group that includes the MLS team DC United as well as other DC-area community members and business owners. One of the USL Super League’s inaugural clubs, DC Power FC is set to begin play in August. 

"I want to help grow women's sports and elevate female athletes across the board," Reese, who's from Maryland, said in a statement. "We're taking over, and I'm honored to be able to support Power FC and invest in women's soccer in the DMV (District, Maryland, Virginia) community."

The USL is a sanctioned Division I league, meaning that it is on par with the NWSL and MLS in the United States. The league's eight current clubs are Brooklyn FC, Carolina Ascent FC, Dallas Trinity FC, DC Power FC, Fort Lauderdale United FC, Lexington SC, Spokane Zephyr FC, and Tampa Bay Sun FC.

DC Power FC will also be playing their home games in a familiar location: Matches will be hosted at DC’s Audi Field in partnership with MLS side DC United. Audi Field also home to the NWSL’s Washington Spirit.

"Angel's decision to be a founding investor alongside us in Power FC is groundbreaking," Jason Levien, DC United's CEO and co-chair, said in a statement. "As a Maryland native, Angel is so passionate about being a catalyst for positive change in women's sports in the DMV as well as globally while inspiring the next generation of female athletes. We're looking forward to her partnership in the boardroom as an equity partner."

It's been speculated that the Super League ultimately intends to compete outright with the NWSL. But in its first year, the league will focus on featuring the depth of women's soccer talent in the US.

Former NWSL players like Taylor Aylmer (Spokane), Jordyn Listro (Tampa Bay), Erika Tymrak (Tampa Bay), and Domi Richardson (Tampa Bay) have already announced a return to professional soccer via the USL.

The league is aiming to provide counter-programming to summer women's sports in the States, with a season running from fall to spring like the European calendar.

In a social media post, Reese said that she’s "grateful & blessed" to be part of the new ownership group. It’s the latest move in what has been a whirlwind spring for Reese, which included getting drafted, attending the Met Gala, signing a new partnership with Good American, and debuting with the Chicago Sky, among other achievements.

"Looking forward to creating new opportunities for women in professional soccer," she tweeted. "I’ve always had to desire to invest in a local team as a Maryland native!"

Reese is the latest female athlete to buy into a women’s sports team, joining the likes of Naomi Osaka, who owns a stake in the North Carolina Courage, and Serena Williams, who's part-owner of Angel City FC. 

Other pro athletes involved in women's sports team ownership include Patrick Mahomes, who shares ownership responsibilities of the Kansas City Current with his wife Brittany. Kevin Durant and Eli Manning are part-owners of Gotham FC, while NFL superstar Tom Brady is part-owner of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.

Nelly Korda Continues Unprecedented LPGA Run

LPGA golfer Nelly Korda poses with Mizuho Americas Open trophy
Nelly Korda took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open on Sunday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Nelly Korda continued her unprecedented LPGA run on Sunday, winning her sixth tournament in the last seven starts. 

The 25-year-old Florida native took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open, becoming the first LPGA player to record six wins in a single season since 2013 — and that’s with three majors and a little over half the season left to play.

"Oh, my gosh, six," Korda said after the win. "I can't even really gather myself right now with that, the head-to-head that Hannah and I had pretty much all day. Wasn't my best stuff out there today, but fought really hard on the back nine."

Korda is just the fourth player on tour to win six times before June 1st, joining LPGA Hall of Famers Babe Zaharias (1951), Louise Suggs (1953), and Lorena Ochoa (2008).

Should her victory run continue, Korda could break the current record for single-season wins, currently set at 13 by Mickey Wright in 1963.

Korda ended Sunday's tournament one shot ahead of Hannah Green, finishing the 18th with a par putt to win it all.

"I mean, to lose to Nelly kind of like is — it's sad, but then it's also Nelly Korda," Green said of her second-place finish. "You know, like she's obviously so dominant right now. To feel like second behind her is quite nice. Unfortunately the bogey on the last has a little bit of a sour taste."

Next up is the US Women’s Open, a tournament that Korda has yet to win in her career. 

"Obviously it's on the top of my priority list," she said. "I just know there is never any good when you put more pressure on yourself. Just going to stay in my bubble that week and take it a shot at a time."

Earlier this year, Korda became the fastest player to collect $2 million in prize money over a single season. This latest win earned her an additional $450,000, bringing her season total up to $2,943,708.

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