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10 Best WNBA Players of the 2010s: Sylvia Fowles (No. 5) reinforced a dynasty

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In the past decade, the WNBA carved a space in sports culture due to the players’ athletic excellence on the court and social influence off it. The following 10 players have led in both areas, becoming our top-10 WNBA players of the 2010s.

Indiana Fever v Minnesota Lynx- 2015 WNBA Finals- Game Five
Sylvia Fowles accepts her 2015 WNBA Finals MVP award.
Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

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:

5. Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx, Chicago Sky)

Honors, achievements and numbers of note in the 2010s: 2x WNBA champion, 2017 MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 3x Defensive Player of the Year, 7x All-WNBA, 8x All-Defensive Team, 5x All-Star, 8x top 5 in rebounds

Minnesota Lynx 2018 Media Day
Sylvia Fowles flashes her fierceness at the Minnesota Lynx’s 2018 media day.
Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

While it may be unwise to use a maxim made most famous by an imperialist American president to describe a women’s basketball star, the saying uttered by Theodore Roosevelt aptly describes Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles.

Since she entered the league with the Chicago Sky in 2008, Fowles has commanded the paint. Throughout the decade, she has not dropped below the top five in rebounds or below the top 10 in blocks. She also is the all-time leader in field goal percentage, an accomplishment that indicates the degree to which she has been able to shoot and score from her chosen spots on the floor. Fowles also desired to determine her destiny and demanded a trade to Minnesota to play for a championship-caliber organization.

Fowles’ inside presence made her the perfect reinforcement for the Lynx dynasty, propelling Minnesota to two more titles. Along the way, Fowles raised her game to an MVP level. She also integrated seamlessly into the Lynx’s core because she speaks softly, leading as the open-hearted “Sweet Syl.” She is a dominant force on both ends of the floor, but she is anything but domineering.

Fowles also is rather unassuming off the court. Unlike many of today’s players, she appears uninterested in establishing herself as a personality on social media or building her brand. Yet, she is not only about basketball. She instead has pursued an atypical entrepreneurial path, studying for a degree in mortuary science with the goal of becoming a funeral director. Her sense of soft-spoken authority also should serve her well when it comes time to succeed in this new space.