Announcing ‘The W25’ and Determining the WNBA’s All-time GOAT

Announcing ‘The W25’ and Determining the WNBA’s All-time GOAT

By Tamryn Spruill In celebrating the WNBA's 25th season, the league on Sunday (Sept. 5) revealed during halftime of the hotly-awaited matchup between the Las Vegas Aces and the Chicago Sky (ABC) "The W25" -- or the 25 best players in the league's storied history. The depths of talent across the league's quarter-century history made choosing the top 25 players a difficult task. To make it easier, the league compiled a list of athletes who played at least two seasons in the WNBA and met at least four of seven criteria. From that list of 72 candidates, the WNBA employed the help of voters from the world of women's hoops, including players and media members, who were instructed to shave the list to 25. The league tallied the numbers on the Official "W25" Ballot to reveal the top 25 players in league history. Tamika Catchings, the WNBA's all-time leader in steals (with no former or current player in the stratosphere of her 1,074 steals) and vice president/general manager of the Indiana...

Caitlin Clark Is the Rightful Winner of the 2021 ESPY Award for Best College Female Athlete

Caitlin Clark Is the Rightful Winner of the 2021 ESPY Award for Best College Female Athlete

By Tamryn Spruill When Paige Bueckers accepted her 2021 ESPY Award for Best College Female Athlete, she notably dedicated the honor to Black women in sports and beyond who systematically and routinely face unprecedented levels of discrimination and erasure.  But it was Bueckers, not another female athlete, who brought the award home that night.  Even before the 2020-21 NCAA season, Bueckers had been pegged as the next big phenom to play for the storied UConn Huskies. The No. 1 overall recruit out of Hopkins, Minn., Bueckers was expected to be Breanna Stewart incarnate, only in guard form. So, with the storyline decided, ESPN as the primary leader of sports conversations, focused on Bueckers to the exclusion of all others, just as they did with Sabrina Ionescu in 2019-20.  Bueckers is an immensely talented basketball player, but she is young, unseasoned and not WNBA-ready despite last season’s chatter indicating otherwise. Beyond that, she did not dominate for the Huskies or...

Simone Biles Models Team Spirit That USA Basketball Needs to Embrace

Simone Biles Models Team Spirit That USA Basketball Needs to Embrace

By Tamryn Spruill By now, gymnast Simone Biles has received enough praise and condemnation over her withdrawal from USA Olympic Team events in Tokyo to last a lifetime. In human history, there is no stage for athletic competition greater than the Olympic Games, and Biles defied norms by bowing out, to protect her health and safety and to give her teammates a chance to win medals. Naysayers, however, call her a quitter, or say she cost other gymnasts a shot at their dreams (because gymnasts who did not qualify in the preliminary rounds are not permitted to fill in for someone who did). But in Biles’ line of work, in contrast to basketball, beach volleyball, ping pong and myriad other events, anything other than piercing focus and peak health can be a matter of life and death, or life and lifelong health challenges. Even bigger, Biles entered these Games as the lone active Olympic gymnast who survived Larry Nassar, the disgraced physician employed by USA Gymnastics who was sentenced to...

Digging into USA Basketball’s and the WNBA’s Blind Loyalty to a Bird and a Bull

Digging into USA Basketball’s and the WNBA’s Blind Loyalty to a Bird and a Bull

By Tamryn Spruill USA Basketball’s announcement of the roster heading to the Tokyo Olympics next month set off a firestorm on social media and beyond about decisions many consider to be dripping in favoritism towards players who came out of the Geno Auriemma’s Connecticut program; Auriemma served as head coach of the USA Basketball women’s national team until 2018, when Dawn Staley took over. And now, with Sue Bird, 40, and Diana Taurasi, 39, chasing their fifth gold medals dating back to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, USA Basketball and the WNBA are eagerly pushing this narrative while choosing to gloss over the facts of: a) Bird’s and Taurasi’s beat-up, aging bodies and the liabilities they potentially pose for Team USA’s quest for a seventh consecutive gold medal and b) the players not named Bird and Taurasi who yet again have been edged out of an opportunity to represent the U.S. on the world stage. The complaints are not just about age. Sylvia Fowles, for example, is 35 and playing...

Seimone Augustus Deserved the Honor of Retiring a Lynx

Seimone Augustus Deserved the Honor of Retiring a Lynx

“Minnesota knows that they have a piece of my heart,” Seimone Augustus said, a tapestry featuring the logo of the Los Angeles Sparks undulating gently behind her. It was late into last week’s retirement press conference when a question by Charles Hallman, a longtime reporter for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, brought her to tears. Six days before, Augustus -- the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, a four-time champion with the Minnesota Lynx, an eight-time All-Star and top-10 all-time WNBA scorer -- announced her retirement, for reasons familiar to any athlete lucky enough to experience career longevity: the body. To prepare for training camp in her second season in L.A., Augustus worked with a trainer on cardio and conditioning. Asked to run 48 sprints, the Baton Rouge, La. native obliged, but not because it was easy. “My ego got me through the 48 sprints,” Augustus said. “But then when I got to my car, I couldn’t even crank my car because I was just, like, exhausted. I was...

WNBA Players React to the Biden-Harris Victory

WNBA Players React to the Biden-Harris Victory

By Tamryn Spruill On Saturday, and four days after Election Day on Nov. 3, major news outlets declared Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris the winner of the 2020 presidential race. Biden and Harris were declared victorious after winning Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes, which put them at 279 of the 270 votes needed to win the presidency. Incumbent Donald Trump, nearing the end of a volatile, destructive, tantrum-filled four years in the Oval Office, is the clear loser, with 214 electoral college votes. Unlike the champion athletes he has publicly degraded and denied celebratory visits to the White House -- athletes who most often practice good sportsmanship after a loss, and even shake the hands of the victors before leaving the court -- Trump has refused to concede. But that hasn't stopped these same athletes from reveling in the Biden-Harris victory or sharing their feelings about it. Here's a roundup from around the WNBA: For Natasha Cloud, a 2019 champion with the Washington...

2020 WNBA Jersey Sales Show Old Guard Is Finally Getting Its Due

2020 WNBA Jersey Sales Show Old Guard Is Finally Getting Its Due

By Tamryn Spruill Old guard WNBA players are finally get their due from mainstream media. But what about the younger class of women's basketball players not named Sabrina Ionescu? On Friday, the league announced before tipoff of Game 1 of the 2020 WNBA Finals that the orange WNBA logo hoodie in 2020 became the bestselling merchandise piece in the league’s history. The hoodie, popularized by the late Kobe Bryant, a fierce supporter of the league and a mentor to many of its players, is “the most popular item this season across official online retail partner Fanatics’ network of e-commerce sites, including WNBAStore.com,” according to a league statement. The signature item also has been embraced by NBA players like LeBron James and other celebrities. But when it comes to individual player jerseys, the old guard reigns supreme while younger players, with the exception of Ionescu, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, float beneath the radar. Former No. 1 picks from recent years...