The decade in the WNBA

Publish date:

GUARD:Sheryl SwoopesThough she won one only one of her four WNBA titles with the Comets during this decade, Swoopes influenced the league as its first three-time Defensive Player of the Year (2000, 2002, 2003) and first three-time MVP (2000, 2002 and 2005). She is's WNBA player of the decade.

GUARD:Diana TaurasiTaurasi has won two WNBA titles with Phoenix (2007, 2009) and set a single-season record for scoring average (25.3 points) in 2006. In 2009, she became the second player in league history to win the regular- season scoring title, MVP award, WNBA championship and Finals MVP in the same season. She also had the distinction of playing in the game of the decade: the Mercury's 120-116 overtime victory against the Indiana Fever in Game 1 of the 2009 Finals, the highest-scoring game in league history.

GUARD:Sue BirdThe Storm playmaker has twice led the league in assists (in 2005 and 2009) and became just the third player in WNBA history to reach 3,000 points and 1,000 assists.

FORWARD:Lauren JacksonA 6-foot-5 forward/center with a guard's body control, handle, skill and outside shot, Jackson is a two-time league MVP.

CENTER:Lisa LeslieThe elegant center who Los Angeles coach Michael Cooper nicknamed "Smooth" won two championships, three MVPs and two Defensive Player of the Year awards. She was an eight-time All-Star and during the decade, the lipsticked face of the league.

COACH:Bill LaimbeerThe fiery former Piston Bad Boy led the Detroit Shock to three WNBA titles (2003, 2006 and 2008); the first came after he orchestrated a worst-to-first turnaround.

• Swoopes Comes Out; October 2005Calling life in the closet "miserable," the reigning league MVP became the most recognizable team athlete, male or female, to publicly acknowledge being gay.

• Sparks-Shock Brawl (a.k.a. Malice in the Palace II); July 21, 2008With 4.2 seconds left in a tight game at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Detroit's Plenette Pierson and L.A.'s Parker got into a scuffle that players and coaches from both teams joined. The damage: Detroit's Cheryl Ford tore an ACL trying to restrain a teammate, and 10 players, along with Detroit assistant Rick Mahorn, earned suspensions.

• Becky Hammon To Play For Russian Olympic Team; April 2008Critics that included then-Team USA coach Anne Donovan called San Antonio's star point guard unpatriotic when she agreed to play for Russia at the Beijing Olympics. In her final Olympic game, Hammon scored 22 points as Russia beat China for the bronze medal.

• Houston Comets Fold; Dec. 1, 2008Shaky finances force the winner of the league's first four titles to suspend operations.

• Parker Expecting; Jan. 7, 2009Just a few months after becoming the first player to earn the league's rookie of the year and MVP awards in the same year, the new face of the league announced she was pregnant, throwing her much-anticipated follow-up season into question. After delivering a daughter in mid-May, Parker missed just eight games before returning the court. By the end of the season, she was an MVP candidate.

• Leslie Plays Her Final Professional Game; Sept. 26, 2009In addition to all her accomplishments in the league, Leslie created an international legacy that may never be matched: four straight Olympic gold medals.