The WNBA announced its Top 15 Players Of All Time today during the 2011 WNBA All-Star game and the Seattle Storm were well-represented with Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson, and Katie Smith all being honored.
As could have been expected, former Seattle Storm players Yolanda Griffith (2008) and Sheryl Swoopes (2008) were also named to the team.
"The 15 athletes honored today represent an extraordinarily accomplished group and the very best in women's professional basketball from around the world," said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie in a release. "In just the few months I've been with the WNBA, I have had an opportunity to meet each of the current players on this list as well as some of the legends who paved the way. I have found that they are not only tremendous athletes who have reached extraordinary heights on the court, but also terrific women who give unselfishly of their time in the community. I am proud to be associated with these outstanding women; and I am so pleased for them that the fans, media members, and the current generation of players and coaches, have chosen to recognize and honor them."
Bird, in her 10th season with the Storm, was most recently named as the seventh most popular women female athlete in U.S. in the recently released Harris Poll. Bird was by far the best point guard in the league last season and is widely regarded as the best point guard in the world. She is one of seven players to have won NCAA and WNBA championships and an Olympic gold medal. She has been voted a starter in all seven All-Star Games that have been played during her career (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011). Bird was also named to the WNBA's All-Decade Team in 2006.
Not to be outdone, Jackson, also a seven-time All-Star selection, is often regarded as the best player in the world. She is a three-time league MVP (2003, 2007, 2010). She earned multiple honors in 2007 when she was named both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year and again in 2010 when she was tabbed as both the league and Finals MVP after leading Seattle to its second championship.
Smith, 37, joined the Storm this year and is playing her 13th year of professional basketball, with her accomplishments elsewhere most significant in determining her spot on this list. The 2008 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, her name is scattered throughout the WNBA career lists. She is currently third all-time in scoring, behind Thompson and Lisa Leslie. Like Bird, she has two Olympic gold medals on her resume.
Perhaps disappointing to some Storm fans is the omission of forward Swin Cash, who was among the list of 30 nominees but didn't make the cut for the Top 15 players.
James Bowman of SB Nation's Swish Appeal set up a Hall of Fame probability calculator that had Cash squarely in range for the Top 15 list. Cash is a two-time member of the All-WNBA Second Team and has her share of championship rings and is among the top 30 in a number of statistical categories from points to assists to rebounding. And you cannot dismiss the intangibles - on more than one occasion, it's Cash getting the rebound or making the aggressive play in the paint that catalyzes a run.
However - and not that it diminishes anything she's accomplished - where Cash might have struggled to get votes is that she's good at a number of things but not necessarily at the best at any one defining thing.
But ultimately, it's really difficult to argue against those that made the list.