Every day this week, the WNBA has unveiled one of five categories for the top 25 moments in the league’s 25-year history. The rankings represent the most-searched WNBA trends on Google since the league was founded in 1997. The categories include cultural influence, championships, WNBA icons, rookies of the WNBA and WNBA history.
On Friday, the league also released a roundtable with some of the WNBA’s biggest stars, breaking down the iconic moments and identifying what their hopes are for the future of the sport. Below are the final results of the top-25 rankings:
There is plenty to celebrate in the WNBA, the longest active professional women’s sports league in the United States. The “WNBA History” category features fans’ favorite moments over the past 25 years, driven by search trends.
Engraved in #WNBA History. Watch for the most searched moments in WNBA history 🎬 #W25Moments ranked by @Google Search Trends pic.twitter.com/Y5gNEdwWft— WNBA (@WNBA) December 27, 2021
Engraved in #WNBA History. Watch for the most searched moments in WNBA history 🎬 #W25Moments ranked by @Google Search Trends pic.twitter.com/Y5gNEdwWft
Earning a spot on the list is the Wubble season and WNBA Virtual Draft in 2020, where the New York Liberty selected Sabrina Ionescu No. 1 and the Dallas Wings reloaded with three picks in the top 10. Next up is one of the most iconic moments in league history, when Lisa Leslie threw down the first-ever dunk on July 30, 2002. Leslie also played a key role in another featured moment, when her Los Angeles Sparks tipped off against the New York Liberty on June 21, 1997 for the first game in WNBA history.
Before that inaugural game, Tina Thompson became the first college player drafted into the league in 1997. Also featured is Diana Taurasi becoming the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer in 2017. The Phoenix Mercury guard continues to add to her total, finishing her 17th season with 9,174 career points.
The WNBA isn’t just a basketball league; it has also made an impact on other sports, music, fashion and culture.
From the iconic orange hoodie to @Candace_Parker’s @NBA2K cover…check out the most searched WNBA Cultural Moments. #W25Moments ranked by @Google Search Trends 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ttcWtz5bFJ— WNBA (@WNBA) December 29, 2021
From the iconic orange hoodie to @Candace_Parker’s @NBA2K cover…check out the most searched WNBA Cultural Moments. #W25Moments ranked by @Google Search Trends 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ttcWtz5bFJ
Maya Moore recreated the iconic Jordan billboard in 2018, giving young athletes everywhere a new poster to hang up on their walls. Following Moore is the WNBA’s iconic orange hoodie, which has been worn by high-profile athletes and celebrities from Drake to Kobe Bryant.
Earlier this year, Candace Parker became the first woman to grace the cover of NBA 2K, just another accolade in a banner year for the Chicago Sky forward. The first WNBA All-Star game at Madison Square Garden, before which Whitney Houston sang the national anthem, also earns a spot. Rounding out the list is Becky Hammon becoming the first female full-time assistant coach in NBA history. Hammon will undoubtedly be leading search trends again, as she is reportedly returning to the WNBA to coach the Las Vegas Aces on a record deal.
The WNBA has gifted fans with legendary performances from stars past and present.
History makers 👑Watch the most searched #WNBA Icon moments 👀 #W25Moments ranked by @Google Search Trends. pic.twitter.com/syrjlvxFqD— WNBA (@WNBA) December 31, 2021
History makers 👑Watch the most searched #WNBA Icon moments 👀 #W25Moments ranked by @Google Search Trends. pic.twitter.com/syrjlvxFqD
Candace Parker returns to the list for delivering the second and third dunks in WNBA history during her 2008 rookie season. Next up is “The Shot,” one of the league’s first viral moments: Teresa Weatherspoon hit a half-court shot at the buzzer to lift the New York Liberty to a win in Game 2 of the 1997 WNBA Finals.
More recently, Liz Cambage set the WNBA’s single-game scoring record when she dropped 53 points in the Dallas Wings’ win over the Liberty on July 17, 2018. The next season, Elena Delle Donne became the first WNBA player in league history to join the 50-40-90 club, meaning she shot at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3 and 90 percent from the free-throw line. Courtney Vandersloot’s single-game record 18 assists in 2020 rounds out the category.
From draft nights to on-court achievements, many WNBA rookies have shined from the moment they entered the league.
Rooks makin' BIG moves 💥We all know rookies can step up big for their teams and make a significant impact 🔥Take a look at the most searched #WNBA Rookie moments. #W25Moments ranked by @Google Search Trends pic.twitter.com/xKHJNLDX3F— WNBA (@WNBA) December 30, 2021
Rooks makin' BIG moves 💥We all know rookies can step up big for their teams and make a significant impact 🔥Take a look at the most searched #WNBA Rookie moments. #W25Moments ranked by @Google Search Trends pic.twitter.com/xKHJNLDX3F
The list would be incomplete without the 2013 WNBA Draft, when perhaps the greatest top-three draft picks in league history — Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith — were made. Next up is the 2019 draft, when Notre Dame’s entire starting five were selected within the top 20 (Jackie Young, No. 1; Arike Ogunbowale, No. 5; Brianna Turner, No. 11; Jessica Shepard, No. 16; Marina Mabrey, No. 19). Notre Dame’s five draft picks surpassed only UConn’s in the 2002 draft, when four Huskies starters went in the first round.
Brittney Griner earns another spot for her impressive WNBA debut. The Mercury center became the third player to dunk in a game when she threw down two slams in her first game on May 27, 2013. Coming in next is Candace Parker’s landmark rookie season, when she was named WNBA Rookie of the Year and MVP. That same year, she won the AP Female Athlete of the Year award, following it up this week with her second such honor after leading the Chicago Sky to their first WNBA championship.
Through Google Search, the WNBA identified the title-winning moments that have captivated fans and driven the most conversation over the past 25 years.
The Seattle Storm won their fourth championship in the Wubble in 2020 behind Finals MVP Breanna Stewart, closing out a challenging year on a high note. From there, Diana Taurasi graces the list once again for her game-winning shot in Game 3 of the 2014 WNBA Finals coming out of a huddle with coach Sandy Brondello. Next up is Nneka Ogwumike’s game-winning shot that lifted the Los Angeles Sparks to their third title in 2016. Grabbing an offensive rebound against the Minnesota Lynx in Game 5, Ogwumike balanced the ball in her right palm as she fell backwards and sunk the shot with 3.1 seconds left to give the Sparks a 77-76 victory.
Tamika Catchings earns a spot for leading the Indiana Fever to the franchise’s only WNBA championship in 2012. Two years after the Fever lost in the Finals, Catchings scored a game-high 25 points in Game 4 to claim the title over the Minnesota Lynx and earn the Finals MVP award. That same Lynx team is highlighted for winning their fourth championship in 2017 and completing a dynasty that included four titles in seven years.