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‘W25’ honors greatest players in WNBA history

The WNBA has commemorated its landmark 25th season by announcing the selection of “The W25,” a collection of the 25 greatest and most influential players in WNBA history. The unveiling of “The W25” took place on ABC during halftime of the game between the Las Vegas Aces and the Chicago Sky.  As part of this historic moment, next up, the league is launching the first ever “Vote for the GOAT” program.

“Throughout this season, the WNBA and our fans are celebrating the impact the WNBA has made on sports and society over a quarter of a century,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “I can think of no better way to honor those responsible for that impact than by unveiling the members of this prestigious group, The W25. These athletes have played the game at the highest level on the court – they are scorers and rebounders, assist makers and defensive stoppers, leaders and mentors.”

“In the community, they have powerful voices, individually and collectively, speaking out on important issues in our society. Together, they have transformed the way the game is played, changed the way athletes are viewed, become incredible role models, and inspired generations of young, diverse athletes.”

In March, the WNBA introduced the “The W25” platform in order to select and honor the 25 most dominant, skilled and entertaining players in league history.  These game-changing athletes were selected based on their overall contribution to the league and community by a panel of select media and women’s basketball pioneers. 

The W25 includes 10 current players: Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowles, Brittney Griner, Angel McCoughtry, Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker, Breanna Stewart, and Diana Taurasi. 

Fifteen retired players are also among the honorees: 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.

The W25

The selection of the “W25” began with a list of 72 nominees chosen based on factors such as on-court performance and ability, leadership, sportsmanship and community service, and contributions to team success. A select panel of media members and women’s basketball pioneers and advocates then cast the votes that determined “The W25.” 

The nominees were required to have been a member of a WNBA team for at least two seasons and met four of the following seven criteria: won a major individual award; selected to either the All-WNBA First Team or All-WNBA Second Team; selected to either the WNBA All-Defensive First Team or WNBA All-Defensive Second Team; selected to the WNBA All-Star Game; a member of a WNBA Championship team; currently ranked among the top 40 career leaders in at least one major statistical category; and/or a recipient of the WNBA’s season-long Community Assist Award.

“It’s a huge honor to be named among the top 25 players in league history and I’m in awe that I’m a part of such a prestigious list,” said Bird. “It’s been incredible to experience the rise in the level of competition in the past 25 years and I’m excited to see what the future holds for this league.”

“I’m extremely honored to be included in such an amazing group of 25 trailblazers,” added Catchings, “and I’m thankful to have had an opportunity to be a part of the growth and strength of our league from both sides – as a player and as an executive. The momentum continues to grow because of those players who came before us and the players of today who continue to push this league to greater heights, paving the road for future generations.”

“I am so grateful to have my name listed amongst past and present legends who’ve pioneered the W over these amazing 25 years,” said Ogwumike. “As an athlete on the court, I’m proud of my career and hope to continue to leave a legacy of greatness. What I’ve been able to contribute to the game along with the phenomenal women of this league through generations is one of my greatest accomplishments. Being recognized for any impact I’ve made is a true honor.”

“It’s an amazing honor to be selected as one of the top 25 players in the history of the WNBA,” said Penicheiro. “With so many amazing players that have been a part of this league, I’m grateful and humbled to be among them. Growing up in Portugal I used to have big dreams and I can only say that I have surpassed all of them.”

Members of “The W25”

Seimone Augustus           
Minnesota Lynx (2006-19), Los Angeles Sparks (2020)
A four-time champion with the Lynx, Augustus was an eight-time All-Star selection, five-time All-WNBA pick, Finals MVP and WNBA Rookie of the Year. She scored 6,005 points (15.4 ppg) over 391 regular-season games. Augustus is currently an assistant coach with the Sparks.

Sue Bird*                       
Seattle Storm (2002-present)
The WNBA’s career leader in assists and games played also holds the record for most All-Star Game selections (12). A four-time champion with the Storm, Bird also is an eight-time All-WNBA pick and three-time Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award winner.

Swin Cash                      
Detroit Shock (2002-07), Seattle Storm (2008-11), Chicago Sky (2012-13), Atlanta Dream (2014), New York Liberty (2014-16)
The three-time champion (twice with the Shock and once with the Storm) was a four-time All-Star and two-time All-WNBA pick. Cash also was an All-Defensive choice and Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award winner.

Tamika Catchings           
Indiana Fever (2002-16)
A five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, Catchings was also a 12-time All-WNBA selection, 12-time All-Defensive pick and 10-time All-Star. The 2011 MVP won a title and Finals MVP award, was a Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award winner, and was part of the 2020 Naismith Hall of Fame Induction Class. Catchings is currently the Vice President of Basketball Operations/General Manager of the Indiana Fever.

Tina Charles*                  
Connecticut Sun (2010-13), New York Liberty (2014-19), Washington Mystics (Current)
The 2010 No. 1 overall pick and Rookie of the Year was the 2012 WNBA MVP. She is an eight-time All-WNBA selection, eight-time All-Star and four-time All-Defensive pick. She led the league in rebounding four times and in scoring once.

Cynthia Cooper               
Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2003)
A four-time champion with the Comets, Cooper earned four Finals MVP honors and was a two-time regular-season MVP. She led the league in scoring in three different seasons and was a three-time All-Star. Cooper averaged 21.0 points and 4.9 assists for her career.

Elena Delle Donne*        
Chicago Sky (2013-2016), Washington Mystics (2017-Current)
The only player to be named WNBA MVP with two different teams (Chicago, 2015; Washington, 2019). Delle Donne is a five-time All-WNBA pick and six-time All-Star. She won a championship with Washington in 2019,  led the league in scoring in 2015, and is the only player in WNBA history to achieve a 50-40-90 season, shooting 50% from the field, 40% from three-point and a 90% free throw percentage during the 2019 season..

Sylvia Fowles*                
Chicago Sky (2008-14), Minnesota Lynx (2015-present)
The league’s career leader in total rebounds and defensive boards, Fowles has won two championships and two Finals MVPs with the Lynx. She is a three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, six-time All-WNBA choice, seven-time All-Star, nine-time All-Defensive pick and MVP in 2017.

Yolanda Griffith              
Sacramento Monarchs (1999-2007), Seattle Storm (2008), Indiana Fever (2009)
A former league MVP, Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, Griffith won a championship with the Monarchs. She also was a five-time All-WNBA pick, seven-time All-Star and two-time All-Defensive choice.

Brittney Griner*              
Phoenix Mercury (2013-present)
A two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Griner led the league in blocks each year from 2013-19. The league’s career dunks leader is a two-time scoring champ, five-time All-WNBA choice, seven-time All-Star, six-time All-Defensive Team pick, and won a WNBA championship in 2014. 

Becky Hammon               
New York Liberty (1999-2006), San Antonio Stars (2007-2014)           
After entering the WNBA as an undrafted free agent, Hammon became a six-time WNBA All-Star and four-time All-WNBA selection in 16 seasons. She led the league in assists once and won the WNBA’s Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award. In 2014, the San Antonio Spurs made Hammon the NBA’s first full-time female assistant coach.

Lauren Jackson                
Seattle Storm (2001-12)
One of only three players to earn MVP honors three times, Jackson won two championships with the Storm. She was a Finals MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, eight-time All-WNBA selection, five-time All-Defensive Team pick and seven-time All-Star. Jackson led the league in scoring three times and in rebounding once.

Lisa Leslie                       
Los Angeles Sparks (1997-2006, 2008-09)
Leslie was a three-time WNBA MVP, two-time Finals MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year. She led the league in rebounding three times and her 12 All-WNBA selections are tied for second most. She won two championships with the Sparks.

Angel McCoughtry*        
Atlanta Dream (2009-2016, 2018-19), Las Vegas Aces (2020-present)
The No. 1 pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft and the 2009 WNBA Rookie of the Year, McCoughtry is a two-time league scoring leader and steals leader. She also is a six-time All-WNBA pick, five-time All-Star and seven-time All-Defensive selection.

Maya Moore                    
Minnesota Lynx (2011-18)
Moore is a four-time champion and seven-time All-WNBA selection after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft and 2011 Rookie of the Year. The 2014 MVP and league scoring leader, as well as the 2013 Finals MVP, Moore was a six-time All-Star and a two-time All-Defensive team pick.

Nneka Ogwumike*          
Los Angeles Sparks (2012-present)
The 2016 WNBA MVP is a five-time All-WNBA and All-Defensive team selection and won a championship with the Sparks in 2016. She also won the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award the last two seasons and the 2018 WNBA season-long WNBA Community Assist Award. Ogwumike was also Rookie of the Year in 2012 and currently serves as the President of the WNBPA.

Candace Parker*              
Los Angeles Sparks (2008-20), Chicago Sky (Current)
Parker began her career by winning Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in 2008. She is a two-time MVP, the 2016 Finals MVP with the champion Sparks, a nine-time All-WNBA pick, six-time All-Star and three-time league rebounding leader. She is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

Ticha Penicheiro             
Sacramento Monarchs (1998-2009), Los Angeles Sparks (2010-11), Chicago Sky (2012)
Penicheiro ranks second in WNBA history in total assists, leading the league in the category in seven seasons. She earned one title with the Monarchs, was a four-time All-Star and three-time All-WNBA pick. Penicheiro logged 2,599 career assists (5.7 apg).

Cappie Pondexter            
Phoenix Mercury (2006-09), New York Liberty (2010-14), Chicago Sky (2015-17), Los Angeles/Indiana (2018)
Pondexter won two championships and a Finals MVP honor in her first four seasons in the league with Phoenix. A four-time All-WNBA selection and seven-time All-Star, Pondexter’s 6,811 career points rank fifth in league history.

Katie Smith                    
Minnesota Lynx (1999-2005), Detroit Shock (2005-2009), Washington Mystics (2010), Seattle Storm (2011-12), New York Liberty (2013)
Smith won two championships and a Finals MVP award with the Shock. She ranks eighth in league history with 6,452 points. The four-time All-WNBA pick and seven-time All-Star earned All-Defensive honors once and led the league in scoring in one season.  Smith is currently an assistant coach with the Lynx.

Breanna Stewart*          
Seattle Storm (2016-present)
In four full seasons in the league, Stewart has earned two championships, two Finals MVPs and a regular-season MVP award. A former WNBA Rookie of the Year, she has been voted to the All-WNBA Team three times and All-Defensive Team twice. She also was MVP of the inaugural WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game in 2021.

Sheryl Swoopes             
Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2002-2007), Seattle Storm (2008), Tulsa Shock (2011)
Swoopes is the only player in WNBA history to be the regular-season MVP three times and Defensive Player of the Year three times. Swoopes, who won four titles with the Comets, was a two-time scoring leader, seven-time All-WNBA pick and six-time All-Star.

Diana Taurasi*              
Phoenix Mercury (2004-2014, 2016-Current
The WNBA’s career leader in points in the regular season and postseason, Taurasi’s 14 All-WNBA selections are the most in league history and her 10 All-Star selections are tied for second. A five-time scoring champ and one-time assists leader, Taurasi has won three championships, one MVP award and two Finals MVPs.

Tina Thompson              
Houston Comets (1997-2008), Los Angeles Sparks (2009-11), Seattle Storm (2012-13)
Thompson’s 7,488 career points rank second in WNBA history. A four-time champion with the Comets, she was an eight-time All-WNBA pick and was selected to participate in nine All-Star Games. Thompson is currently the head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Virginia.

Lindsay Whalen             
Connecticut Sun (2004-09), Minnesota Lynx (2010-18)
Whalen, who won four championships with the Lynx, ranks third in league history with 2,348 assists. A five-time All-WNBA pick and five-time All-Star, she was the league’s season assists leader three times. Whalen is currently the head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Minnesota.