The WNBA thrived in the 2010s because of the everyday, enduring efforts of talented, engaging women’s basketball players. On their own steam, with neither sufficient marketing nor adequate financial investment, the players proved that women’s professional basketball is here to stay. As the decade winds to a close, we reflect on the players who made the biggest impact both on and off the court.
Here are the 10 best WNBA players of the 2010s:
7. Tina Charles (New York Liberty, Connecticut Sun)
Honors, achievements and numbers of note in the 2010s: 2012 MVP, 8x All-WNBA, 4x All-Defensive, 7x All-Star, 8x top-5 in rebounds, 2010 Rookie of the Year
Tina Charles exudes control.
The style of the New York Liberty frontcourt star is rather old-school, characterized by plenty of post-ups, with a few mid-range jumpers for good measure. When inside, she creates space, calls for the ball and quickly goes to work, seemingly unbothered by the efforts of her defender(s). Or, when she pops after setting the pick, she confidently fires off a high, sling-shot shot. But Charles also possesses the playmaking poise characteristic of modern bigs. She can take the ball in transition and hit her teammates in stride.
In other words, it always seems as if Charles knows exactly what she wants to do, and does it. Even as the Liberty have languished in Westchester County, New York, the past two seasons, Charles has continued to perform consistently, controlling what she can control on the court and hitting career and franchise milestones. In 2019, she became the all-time leading scorer in Liberty history.
After her fifth season with the Connecticut Sun, the team with which she won her 2012 MVP award, Charles expressed a desire to play for her hometown team of New York, and she vowed to sit out if not traded. Even as her six-year stint with the Liberty has not seen significant success, Charles has established herself as the face of women’s basketball in New York due to her basketball abilities and social activism.
Led by Charles, the Liberty were at the forefront of the WNBA’s #BlackLivesMatter protests. In 2016, Charles and her teammates diverted attention to problems much bigger than basketball through the black shirts they wore during warmups and their responses to questions after games. Charles also has captained other important sociopolitical initiatives for the Liberty, including raising awareness about the challenges formerly-incarcerated women face when attempting to rebuild their lives and become productive members of society.