The WNBA is thriving.
However, it was barely hanging on not too long ago.
Established 26 years ago, the WNBA is the first all-women basketball league in the US.
The WNBA made a name for itself in 1996 during the Summer Olympics.
Here, the WNBA Dream Team brought home the gold for Team USA.
The league has experienced its fair share of problems and hurdles over the decades, but it is now more prominent.
And for that, we have some legendary WNBA players to thank.
Sheryl Swoopes was a member of the Houston Comets’ first team.
She dominated the league in her time there, winning three WNBA MVP awards.
She also led the Comets to championship titles in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000.
She scored 20.7 points per game in the last season, a career-high.
Swoopes is also a three-time Olympic gold medalist.
And in 2016, she joined the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 1997, Lisa Leslie became part of the Los Angeles Sparks.
She took home the Olympic gold four times and is a three-time MVP in the WNBA.
Leslie also helped the Sparks win two WNBA championships in 11 seasons, and she made history by being the WNBA player to dunk in a game.
In 2019, she became the BIG3 league’s Triplets coach and immediately led them to the championship.
Cynthia Cooper started her career at the University of South California, where she led her team to consecutive national championships.
After playing abroad, she joined the WNBA’s Houston Comets in 1997 and brought greatness with her.
She earned two MVPs and led the Comets to 4 championships in a row.
And in each final, she was the finals MVP.
In the inaugural WNBA Draft, Tina Thompson was the first-round pick.
She joined Houston Comets and immediately slotted into their all-star team that dominated the league between 1997 and 2000.
She became an all-star MVP and a 9-time all-star.
She was also a big deal at the Olympics, becoming a two-time Olympic gold medalist and the 2nd highest scorer in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
After retiring, she became Virginia Cavaliers’ head coach between 2018 and 2022.
Dawn Staley played for Houston Comets and Charlotte String, and she starred for both teams.
Staley is a five-time All-Star and a three-time Olympic gold medalist, so her playing career is more decorated than most.
But she didn’t stop there.
After retiring, she became the University of South Carolina coach.
Staley led the team to the 2022 national championship title, making her the first Black coach to take home two different Division I basketball titles.
Conclusion: The WNBA’s Legendary Players
Even though the WNBA is a relatively new league, they set it on fire.
They brought excitement, drama, and class and paved the way for today’s stars.
We will never forget their essential contributions.