The announcement of the Top 15 in league history
The 15th anniversary of the WNBA brought about a special celebratory feel to the 2011 All-Star game, most noteably due to the immense amount of league greats in attendance at the game. These superstars in the record books of the W were here for more than just basketball, however, they were in San Antonio to get recognized as a member of the Top 15 All-Time team that was unveiled at halftime.
Amazing names in the game, both past and present, were greeted by roars of approval from the fans in the stands. Five of the 15 - a third of those honored - were there for more than just a crystal plaque, they were current WNBA greats selected to play in the all-star game. But whether you were there as a fan, a retired legend, a rookie all-star or a legend still lacing them up, everyone knew the importance of the day.
"The first thing I want to say about meeting the greats is that it has been a highlight to sit in a room with these 15 women," WNBA president Laurel Richie said. "From a fan part of me, it doesn't get any better than that."
All-stars not named to the list, from rookies like Liz Cambage to candidates for the honor themselves reflected on the momentous occasion.
"It was such an honor to be there surrounded by all these amazing women," Cambage said. "The 15 that got named at halftime, they've really just shaped the game for us and we're just so lucky that we get to live this, this is our life and it's just a blessing and an honor."
Cash, the All-Star MVP, has been debated by some as a name that belonged on the final list. But she welcomes the interest and debate by fans and media.
"I thought it was great to have the top 15," Cash said after the game. "I thought there was a mix, a blend of players from players that started the foundation of the league to the new wave that's kind of taking the baton and running with it.
"Also, I think it's a great conversation piece for a lot of media. Because people will say, 'I voted for this person', or 'this person should have been in'. You know what, and as much as you talk about it it's good for the league, so keep talking about it."
Becky Hammon, a Top 15 honoree and current all-star selection, spoke about the influence the original players have on the league and on her personally.
"What they've done for women's basketball, being the trailblazers, there will only be one first group and they were the first. So to honor them and to just hold them in esteem, I think it's good without losing yourself in their greatness. But they were great, no doubt about it. We have a great group coming up of young women so it's a proud moment just from generation to generation, but those were the building blocks and I don't think we could build on a better group of individuals, and winners, and competitors."
On her own selection, Hammon expressed her surprise and gratitude.
"Honestly, I was a little bit speechless," she said with a smile. "Obviously you know when you're up for awards like that, but I just let it go, let the chips fall. That's been my philosophy the whole time. Just play hard, be who you are and let the chips fall where they may and it's worked out pretty well for me so far.
" But to be able to share that with the fans in my own city - the whole thing is special and plop it in my home city, I couldn't really write the script any better. It was awesome."
Sue Bird, Seattle's prolific point guard, also earned her way to the Top 15 list. She reflected on her inclusion with women that she referred to as legends.
"It was great. It's such an honor to be on that list when you look at the other names," Bird said. "I was young when the WNBA started, just into my high school career, watched them on TV and saw them in the Olympics, so to be in the game group with some of those players is crazy. It's definitely such an honor and it's one of those things that I know I'll look back on and look at it in kind of a surreal kind of way."
Bird also noted the significance of having five current all-stars make the Top 15 list.
"I think it's a good sign that some of us are still current, because it kind of shows where the league is still going," Bird reflected. "It really is headed in the right direction ... When we play it's for the love of the game. It's because we enjoy it, it's because it's the best competition."