With this being the 25th season of the WNBA, one of its more anticipated moments was the announcement of the 25 greatest players of all time. The WNBA also did something similar in the 2016 season with the unveiling of its 20@20.
Those 25 players are as follows: Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Tina Charles, Cynthia Cooper, Elena Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowles, Yolanda Griffith, Brittney Griner, Becky Hammon, Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore, Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker, Ticha Penicheiro, Cappie Pondexter, Katie Smith, Breanna Stewart, Sheryl Swoopes, Diana Taurasi, Tina Thompson and Lindsay Whalen.
Out of those 25, 10 are still active – an obvious testament to how the talent pool in the W has only become deeper and deeper as the seasons continue to advance.
Any time announcements like this are made, it is almost certain to produce more than its fair share of conversation on social media. And as one could expect, WNBA Twitter was abuzz with reaction once the announcement was made.
Did the W get it right? Who was unceremoniously left off? Here are a few thoughts about the W25 unveiling in this week’s Starting Five.
Lack of fanfare
When one thinks about it, this announcement of the 25 greatest came by way of the W with almost no fanfare. Given it is the league’s 25th anniversary and it is making an announcement that is sure to create plenty of buzz, there should have been plenty more build-up to the big news as opposed to a simple announcement during the Chicago Sky-Las Vegas Aces contest.
This was an opportunity for the WNBA to go big and bold. The top 25 announcement should have happened in a 30-minute to 1-hour special on ESPN with additional time to honor the 25 greatest on either NBA TV or via the W’s Twitter. It appeared Cathy Engelbert and the WNBA put more of an emphasis to hype up the Commissioner’s Cup Final between the Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun than the honoring of its 25 GOATs.
Speaking of which – as expected, there was plenty of Seattle Storm representation on this list. From Lauren Jackson to Sue Bird to Swin Cash to Breanna Stewart to Yolanda Griffith to Katie Smith and Tina Thompson.
Say what one wants about Mechelle Voepel’s recent list of the greatest WNBA franchises of all time (love ya but the Houston Comets are top two and we all know they are not two) – there is a reason why the Storm are so respected within not only WNBA but sports circles. Not only have they been successful as a franchise, but have been a model franchise in terms of advocacy for social change. A blueprint for sports franchises inside and outside of the basketball realm.
Perhaps when the W releases its 30@30 list in the 2026 season – another noteworthy Storm may also find her way on that list in Jewell Loyd.
20 vs 25?
When looking at this Top 25, one may expect that there would be plenty of similarities to the Top 20@20 list that was released during the 2016 campaign. Low and behold – there were.
Only two from the Top 20 list were unable to make it to the Top 25 list – and with this list being more recent, it had to take into account some of the league’s more recently established greats such as Breanna Stewart, Brittney Griner, Tina Charles, Angel McCoughtry, Sylvia Fowles, Elena Delle Donne and Nneka Ogwumike.
But with those seven being on the list that were absent from the Top 20 list, that meant that two notables from that 20 list were off the list of 25
Tweety and T-Spoon
The two were Deanna Nolan (an all-time great with the Detroit Shock) and Teresa Weatherspoon (an all-time great who played all but one of her seasons with the New York Liberty – she was with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2004).
Nolan won three championships with the Shock – including WNBA Finals MVP honors in 2006. Weatherspoon is more than only “The Shot,” – she was 4x All-WNBA in her heyday. No list like this is easy to compile, but both of them deserve their flowers.
The WNBA is really upping the ante. Not only did it unveil its 25 greatest, but it is also doing a GOAT vote to reveal who, after 25 seasons of W greatness, is its greatest of all time.
We all know Air Swoopes, Thompson and Coop were on their GOAT status when they brought the first four WNBA championships to H-Town. The same with Maya Moore when she was the centerpiece of those four titles the Minnesota Lynx won in the 2010s. Sue Bird also has a worthwhile case having won four championships.
Our guess is it is going to Diana Taurasi. After all, even though the WNBA will never admit this publicly, she is basically the W’s logo so we are seeing GOAT for Dee.