It's the end of December, so everyone and anyone seems to be pulling together their "Best of 2010" lists. Music, television, movies, and so on...so how about women's basketball?
So I started thinking, what are the best moments of 2010 in women's hoops?
At first, I was going to run with the "Best interviews for Dishin & Swishin" but I realized that would be better suited for my New Year's show on WSTRRadio.com, so I passed on that for here. In trying to figure out how to handle this for Swish Appeal, and talking about this with the esteemed Q McCall, the question that kept coming up is "What IS a best moment?" Does it have to be something positive? Hmmm. Is it "big" to those that follow women's basketball primarily, or is it "big" to the mainstream general public? Which is a "bigger" event or achievement? Again, hmmm. The answer to all these questions became abundantly clear...who knows?
So, over today and tomorrow we're going to change the name "Best Moments" to "Biggest Moments" so we can add the negative a little easier and we're going to tip our hat to the niche fan of women's hoops, but also give some extra weight to those things that have caught the eye of the mainstream public. In other words, if it made the message boards, good. If it made Sportscenter, even better. If it made USA Today or the evening news, best!
Using those criteria, here is the Dishin & Swishin 10 Biggest Moments for the year 2010 with interviews from throughout the year that in which coaches and players capture those moments in their own words. In true Casey Kasem style, we'll be counting ‘em down.
10. The vets can still play! Tina Thompson and Tangela Smith Set New WNBA Standards
They may be two of the older players in the WNBA, but experience and talent paid dividends for two WNBA stars that have been gracing us with their presence for years. During the 2010 WNBA season Phoenix Mercury forward Tangela Smith surpassed Vickie Johnson on the WNBA career games played list with her 411th career game (and climbing!). The 13-year veteran ranks in the top five in three WNBA career statistical categories including minutes played (fourth) and points (fifth) and ranks sixth in total rebounds.
When Tina Thompson joined the Los Angeles Sparks, she wanted in part to play with Lisa Leslie, their All-time great center. College, all star game, and USA National teammates, the two were rivals for most of their careers. In 2010, Thompson one upped the legend, becoming the WNBA's All-time scoring leader, passing Leslie's career total of 6,263 points. The #1 pick in the original WNBA draft in 1997, Thompson remains a star as she hopefully continues her WNBA career in 2011.
9. Three times a Champion: Sue Bird Wins Not One, Not Two, But THREE Championships
If championships are the measure of a person's success, Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm had one REAAAALLY successful year! It began in Russia, where her Spartak team won the Euro League title. She came home to the USA, and led the Seattle Storm to the WNBA championship. On one day's rest, she then flew overseas to the Czech Republic, where she led the United States to a gold medal in the World Championships. For any player, this triple would be great, but for a point guard, running three different offenses, distributing to three different sets of teammates, and logging enormous minutes on all three it was truly an amazing achievement.
8. Two Trades Reshape the League: The Phoenix-New York-Chicago and Minnesota-Connecticut Trades
Two trades, worked out at virtually the same time, featuring four All-Stars and a future All-Star all changing teams, changed the landscape of the WNBA for 2010. Within days, Cappie Pondexter, Candice Dupree and Shemeka Christon were basically traded for each other, and Lindsay Whalen was traded for the rights to draft Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery.
In at least one of those trades, the players forced the hands of the teams, informing them of their "desire" to be treated from their team. The teams, looking down the barrel of these players potentially not playing the WNBA season, honored the players' wishes, and actually put together some very good trades. New York and Phoenix were playoff teams, Connecticut had a solid season that only the strength of the Eastern Conference kept out of the playoffs, and injuries derailed Minnesota and Chicago, so the jury is out there. We will have to see what happens in 2011 to further judge the results of these trades.
7. The President Steps Down: The Resignation of Donna Orender
Had this happened earlier in the year, this would have most certainly been higher on the list. Since Donna Orender resigned effective December, however, I'm sure this will be a story that will have a big impact on 2011. You may not agree with all she has done, or her perpetually upbeat answers and demeanor, but there is no doubt that Donna Orender helped navigate the league through extremely trying times; crossing a difficult economy, the growing pains of individual ownership, the need for local and national sponsorships and an ever increasing battle for recreational spending. The new President will continue to face difficulties, but the league is better for having Donna Orender as president for the years she has spent with it.
6. And She's a Straight A Student Too! Maya Moore's Most Excellent Adventure
So, what was your junior and senior year in college like? You mean you didn't toss around the idea of being a Rhodes scholar candidate while winning your second national championship, second National Player of the Year award, become the only college kid on the World Champion USA Senior national team, become the All-time leading scorer at your school, and just for kicks continue a streak that currently sits at 90 consecutive wins? Slacker!
Of course all of the above was accomplished during 2010 by the University of Connecticut's superstar Maya Moore. Not bad at all....I can hardly wait to see what 2011 brings for Miss Maya.
So that completes numbers 10 through 6. What lies ahead? I know the suspense is killing you! Well, you'll just have to wait one more day....