Bird, Jackson and Smith Honored among Top 15 Players in WNBA League History

Lauren Jackson/Photo: S. Brusig

Three players on the Seattle Storm’s 2011 roster have been recognized among the WNBA’s Top 15 Players in History, the league announced today. Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and Katie Smith were among those honored as the list was unveiled during halftime ceremonies at the 2011 All-Star Game presented by adidas in San Antonio, Texas. Former Storm players Yolanda Griffith and Sheryl Swoopes, who played for Seattle in 2008, were also included in the list that celebrated the WNBA’s 15th season.

Los Angeles was the only other team with multiple current players represented as Tina Thompson and Ticha Penicheiro were recognized. 

The current Seattle trio has a collection of WNBA championships to its credit as Bird and Jackson teamed to lead the Storm to titles in 2004 and 2011 and Smith won with Detroit in 2006 and 2008.  Bird, in her 10th season with the Storm, is one of seven players to have won NCAA and WNBA championships and an Olympic gold medal. She has been voted a starter in all seven All-Star Games that have been played during her career (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011). Bird was also named to the WNBA’s All-Decade Team in 2006. 

Katie Smith/Photo: S. Brusig

Jackson, also a seven-time All-Star selection, is a three-time league MVP (2003, 200, 2010). She earned multiple honors in 2007 when she was named both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year and again in 2010 when she was tabbed as both the league and Finals MVP after leading Seattle to its second championship. 

Smith, 37, joined the Storm this year and is playing her 13th year of professional basketball. The 2008 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, her name is scattered throughout the WNBA career lists. She is currently third all-time in scoring, behind Thompson and Lisa Leslie. Like Bird, she has two Olympic gold medals on her resume. 

“The 15 athletes honored today represent an extraordinarily accomplished group and the very best in women’s professional basketball from around the world,” said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. “In just the few months I’ve been with the WNBA, I have had an opportunity to meet each of the current players on this list as well as some of the legends who paved the way. I have found that they are not only tremendous athletes who have reached extraordinary heights on the court, but also terrific women who give unselfishly of their time in the community. I am proud to be associated with these outstanding women; and I am so pleased for them that the fans, media members, and the current generation of players and coaches, have chosen to recognize and honor them.”

Sue Bird/Photo: S. Brusig

A panel comprising media members and basketball experts selected the 30-nominee ballot, giving consideration 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.  

Voting for the league’s Top 15 Players of All Time began on June 23 and was conducted among fans, who voted on WNBA.com, by select national and WNBA-market media, and by current players and coaches. The league weighted each of three voting groups to account for an equal percentage of the total vote.  

“This list of 15 players is composed of exciting – and dominating – players from start to finish and highlighted by players of all kinds – scorers, playmakers, ballhandlers, rebounders, defensive wizards, leaders, and players who have brought out the best in their teammates,” added WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations Renee Brown, who has been an executive with the WNBA since its inception.

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Bird, Jackson and Smith Honored among Top 15 Players in WNBA League History

Bird, Jackson and Smith Honored among Top 15 Players in WNBA League History

Bird, Jackson and Smith Honored among Top 15 Players in WNBA League History

Bird, Jackson and Smith Honored among Top 15 Players in WNBA League History

Bird, Jackson and Smith Honored among Top 15 Players in WNBA League History

Bird, Jackson and Smith Honored among Top 15 Players in WNBA League History

Bird, Jackson and Smith Honored among Top 15 Players in WNBA League History

Bird, Jackson and Smith Honored among Top 15 Players in WNBA League History

Bird, Jackson and Smith Honored among Top 15 Players in WNBA League History

Bird, Jackson and Smith Honored among Top 15 Players in WNBA League History

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