Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guru WNBA Special: 15th Anniversary Ballot Released

(Guru's note: A post below this is the summer league roundup and one above this is the Tuesday roundup with live game coverage from Washington).

By Mel Greenberg

Over the winter the WNBA asked a blue ribbon panel of media members and basketball experts to take a mammoth list of candidates and pare it down to 30 nominees to be presented to the public to vote for 15 stars in league history to commemorate the 15th anniversary season.

The ballot was officially released Tuesday night in conjunction with the New York Liberty-Los Angeles Sparks game out west that featured the same national rivals that launched the league in 1997.

There are past players who starred across most of the league history such as Ruthie Bolton (Sacramento), Cynthia Cooper (Houston), Yolanda Grffith (Sacramento-Seattle-Indiana), Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles), Nykesha Sales (Orlando/Connecticut), Dawn Staley (Charlotte-Houston), and Teresa Weatherspoon ((New York-Los Angeles).

That’s seven right there, which is just under half of the potential numbers who will make the final list.

And there are the mostly younger generation who have been around a while and would also be tough to leave out such as Seimone Augustus (Minnesota), Sue Bird (Seattle), Swin Cash (Detroit-Seattle), Becky Hammon (New York, San Antonio), Chamique Holdsclaw (Washington, Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Antonio), Lauren Jackson (Seattle), Ticha Penicheiro (Sacramento-Los Angeles), Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix-New York), Katie Smith (Minnesota, Detroit, Washington), Sheryl Swoopes (Houston, Seattle, Tulsa), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix), Penny Taylor (Cleveland, Phoenix), and Tina Thompson (Houston, Los Angeles).

That’s 13 more, which exceeds the target finals of 15 but secures 20 of 30 spots available for the ballot.

Then what to do with Candace Parker, who hasn’t been around that long but perhaps represents the next generation, who didn’t make the ballot, but undoubtedly will be strong candidates for the 20th anniversary team such as Rebekkah Brunson, Tina Charles, Candice Dupree, Asjha Jones, Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore, who technically as a brand new rookie was ineligible for consideration, Lindsay Whalen, and Sophia Young.

A little research shows the evolvement of time with the following, which were on the 10th anniversary ballot but are not this time around, such as Janeth Arcain (Houston), Tamecka Dixon (Los Angeles), Los Angeles coach Jennifer Gillom (Phoenix, Los Angeles), Rebecca Lobo (New York, Houston, Connecticut), San Antonio assistant coach Vickie Johnson (New York, San Antonio), and Andrea Stinson (Charlotte).

Everyone has their own opinion, so the masses, especially in New York, undoubtedly will howl that none from a group of former Liberty stars Kym Hampton, Tari Phillips or Sue Wicks made the ballot.

But that’s a discussion to be held over the next several weeks.

So with that gift addendum from the Guru, here’s the official WNBA release announcing those who are still alive in the chase for 15th anniversary honors:

15th Anniversary Ballot Announced

NEW YORK, June 21, 2011 –
In celebration of its historic 15th season, the WNBA is honoring the most influential players since its inception in 1997, and announced today the 30 official nominees for the Top 15 Players of all time. The nominees were selected by a panel comprised of media members and basketball experts, with consideration given to such factors as on-court performance and ability, leadership, sportsmanship and community service, as well as to contributions to team success and the overall growth of women’s basketball.

“We are extremely proud to recognize and honor the greatest players in the 15-year history of the WNBA,” said WNBA President Laurel Richie. “The women who comprise the list of nominees are an extraordinary combination of ground-breaking pioneers and present-day stars. Each has made a unique contribution to the game, but all share an unsurpassed passion for women's basketball and for the WNBA. It is through their efforts, collectively, that the WNBA has become – and will continue to be – the destination point for the most talented female basketball players in the world.”

Voting for the league’s Top 15 Players of all time will be conducted among fans and select national and WNBA-market media, as well as current players and coaches. Fans are encouraged to vote by logging onto WNBA.com, which will highlight each of the 30 nominees, complete with biographical information and a photo gallery. In addition, the history section will serve as an informational resource for fans and media to browse through career statistical leaders, league milestones, previous award winners and more.

Fans can cast a vote for their Top 15 Players of all time once per day by going online to http://www.wnba.com/top15players starting Thursday at noon ET and ending at midnight on July 14.

The WNBA’s Top 15 Players will be unveiled and honored at the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game, where the San Antonio Silver Stars will host the midseason classic for the first time in franchise history. ABC will nationally broadcast the game on Saturday, July 23, at 3:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. CT).

Individual tickets for the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game are available to the general public at all San Antonio Ticketmaster locations, including by phone at (210) 225-TEAM, or online at ticketmaster.com or sasilverstars.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the AT&T Center Southeast Box Office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or on weekend event days starting at 10 a.m. or by calling (210) 444-5090.

Among other season-long initiatives, the WNBA will offer fans a special opportunity to determine the Top 15 Moments in league history. That initiative, set to tip off in late July, will enable fans to rank – from No. 15 through No. 1 – the greatest games, plays, milestones, and inspirational moments in the history of the WNBA. The rankings will be unveiled during the second half of the season through the Playoffs and into the Finals. WNBA teams will also be hosting specially-themed game nights to commemorate the 15th season milestone, along with creative fan promotions, interactive events and presentations to long-time season ticket holders.

Below is a list of the 30 official nominees for the league’s Top 15 Players of all time:
(Guru apology in not being able to get this list in clean tabular form on this site but you can see a clean version at WNBA.com)

Name WNBA Team (Current/Last) Previous Team(s)
Seimone Augustus Minnesota Lynx (2006-Current)
Sue Bird Seattle Storm (2002-Current)
Ruthie Bolton* Sacramento Monarchs (1997-2004)
Swin Cash Seattle Storm (2008-Current) Detroit Shock (2002-2007)
Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever (2002-Current)
Cynthia Cooper* Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2003)
Katie Douglas Indiana Fever (2008-Current) Orlando Miracle (2001-2002), Connecticut Sun (2003-2007)
Cheryl Ford Detroit Shock (2003-2009)
Yolanda Griffith* Indiana Fever (2009) Sacramento Monarchs (1999-2007), Seattle Storm (2008)
Becky Hammon San Antonio Silver Stars (2007-Current) New York Liberty (1999-2006)
Chamique Holdsclaw San Antonio Silver Stars (2010) Washington Mystics (1999-2004), Los Angeles Sparks (2005-2007), Atlanta Dream (2009-2010)
Lauren Jackson Seattle Storm (2001-Current)
Shannon Johnson* Seattle Storm (2009) Orlando Miracle (1999-2002), Connecticut Sun (2003), San Antonio Silver Stars (2004-2006), Detroit Shock (2007), Houston Comets (2008)
Lisa Leslie* Los Angeles Sparks (1997-2006, -- missed 2007 -- 2008-2009)
Taj McWilliams-Franklin Minnesota Lynx (Current) Orlando Miracle (1999-2002), Connecticut Sun (2003-2006), Los Angeles Sparks (2007), Washington Mystics (2008), Detroit Shock (2008-2009), New York Liberty (2010)
Delisha Milton-Jones Los Angeles Sparks (1999-2004, 2008-Current) Washington Mystics (2005-2007)
Deanna Nolan Detroit Shock (2001-2009)
Candace Parker Los Angeles Sparks (2008-Current)
Ticha Penicheiro Los Angeles Sparks (2010-Current) Sacramento Monarchs (1998-2009)
Cappie Pondexter New York Liberty (2010-Current) Phoenix Mercury (2006-2009)
Nykesha Sales* Connecticut Sun (2003-2007) Orlando Miracle (1999-2002)
Katie Smith Seattle Storm (Current) Minnesota Lynx (1999-2005), Detroit Shock (2005-2009), Washington Mystics (2010)
Tangela Smith Indiana Fever (Current) Sacramento Monarchs (1998-2004), Charlotte Sting (2005-2006), Phoenix Mercury (2007-2010)
Dawn Staley* Houston Comets (2006-2006) Charlotte Sting (1999-2005)
Sheryl Swoopes Tulsa Shock (Current) Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2002-2007), Seattle Storm (2008)
Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury (2004-Current)
Penny Taylor Phoenix Mercury (2004-2007, 2009-current) Cleveland Rockers (2001-2003)
Tina Thompson Los Angeles Sparks (2009-Current) Houston Comets (1997-2008)
Teresa Weatherspoon* Los Angeles Sparks (2004) New York Liberty (1997-2003)
Natalie Williams* Indiana Fever (2003-2005) Utah Starzz (1999-2002)


-- Mel


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