Women's basketball is one of the few games that has evolved along with men's basketball in the 19th century. Since then, a number of outstanding women have heralded their entry in basketball with great zeal and enthusiasm.
Did You Know?
Nike named one of its shoes, the "Air Swoopes", after the famous woman basketball player, Sheryl Swoopes, who is frequently referred to as the female 'Michael Jordan'.
Women's basketball began in the year 1892 in America, and gradually became a passion all around the world. It was introduced as an Olympic sport in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Since then, the game has gone from strength to strength, and has produced some amazing women champions.
These women have achieved stardom with sheer determination and a spirited attitude towards the game.
Here are some of the most acclaimed queens of basketball, who mesmerized us and continue to do so with their magical skills.
Born: March 26, 1955 Nationality: American WNBA Career: 1978-1981 Olympic: Silver (1976) Pan American Games: Gold (1975) World Championship: Gold (1979)
Born in 1955, Meyers began her career in sports as an all-rounder, making a mark in badminton, field hockey, softball, and basketball during high school. In 1974, she was selected as a member of the US National Team while at high school, glorifying her to be the first girl in the history of basketball to achieve this rare feat.
While studying at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), Meyers also became the first woman to sign a four-year athletic scholarship at her college. She was also the first female to sign a $50,000 no-cut contract with the NBA's (National Basketball Association) Indiana Pacers.
Later, as her career progressed, she led the US Women's National Basketball team to a silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. In 1988, she became the first female to be inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.
Currently residing in California, Meyers is the president and general manager of WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, and the vice-president of NBA's Phoenix Suns. She has also served as a network television sports analyst for ESPN, CBS, and NBC for more than 26 years.
She is currently a board member of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is given annually to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year.
Born: November 1, 1961 Nationality: American WNBA Career: 2000-present (Coach Profile) Olympic: Gold (1984, 1988) Pan American Games: Gold (1983, 1987) World Championship: Gold (1983)
Born in 1961, Donovan started her career at the Paramus Catholic High School in Paramus, New Jersey, and led her high school team to undefeated seasons. In 1979-80, while graduating from the Old Dominion University (ODU), she helped her college team, the Lady Monarchs, win the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women basketball championship.
She was also declared the Naismith College Player of the year in 1983. She was a participant in three Olympics, and won the gold medal on two occasions. She was the winner of two gold medals at the Pan American Games in 1983 and 1987.
Later as a coach, she guided the US team to another gold medal in women's basketball at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She is the only person to have won the WNBA title both as a player and a coach. She is also a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Presently coaching the WNBA's (Women's National Basketball Association) Connecticut Sun, Anne Donovan is one of the most celebrated basketball players of all time.
Born: April 19, 1986 Nationality: USA WNBA Career: 2008-present Olympic: Gold (2008, 2012)
During her childhood, Parker began playing under the guidance of her father, who himself was a basketball player at the University of Iowa. A skilled basketball player in high school, she was selected as the high school Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004 by USA Today.
While graduating at the University of Tennessee, she played for the Tennessee Lady Vols, and helped the college team win the NCAA Women's Basketball Championships in 2007 and 2008. She was also honored with the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Champion in 2007.
She won the USBWA Player of the Year (2007, 2008) and the Naismith Award in 2008. She also was the first to win the WNBA MVP (Most Valuable Player) and WNBA Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. She stands out as the first woman player to dunk in a NCAA tournament game, and is the younger sister of NBA's famous Anthony Parker.
A famous sports star, Parker went on to win the 2009 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice award as the favorite female athlete in the sports category. Currently, she plays forward for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, and the UMMC Ekaterinburg of Russia.
Awards and Honors
Wade Trophy winner (2007) USBWA Player of the Year (2007, 2008) Wooden Award (2007, 2008) Naismith Award (2008) Honda-Broderick Cup (2008) WNBA Rookie of the Year (2008) WNBA MVP (2008) WNBA All-Star (2011) 2× WNBA rebounding champion (2008, 2009)
Born: August 9, 1977 Nationality: USA WNBA Career: 1999-2010 Olympic: Gold (2000)
Born in 1977, Chamique Holdsclaw started showing basketball skills at a young age. During her high school education, she led her school basketball team to four straight New York State Championships, and was named High School All-American by the WBCA.
She played under coach Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, and helped the college team, Lady Vols, to win the women's NCAA's first three consecutive Women's Basketball Championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Later in her career, Holdsclaw won a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
She became the WNBA scoring champion in 2002. She was also presented with the Sullivan award in 2008, and the Naismith Award in 2008 and 2009. She won the 2009 WNBA Rookie of the year Award. Holdsclaw is the fifth woman player in basketball to score 3,000 points.
Chamique Holdsclaw announced her retirement in 2007, but later came back to play for the Atlanta Dream. In 2010, she left Atlanta Dream and became a team member for the WNBA San Antonio Silver Stars. She has played for WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics, and San Antonio Silver Stars.
Awards and Honors
Sullivan Award (1998) Naismith Award (1998, 1999) WNBA Rookie of the Year (1999) 6× WNBA All-Star (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005) 2× WNBA rebounding champion (2002, 2003) WNBA scoring champion (2002)
Born: January 3, 1964 Nationality: American Olympic: Gold (1984) Pan American Games: Gold (1983) Goodwill Games: Gold (1986)
Miller started her career playing for her high school team. In her four years at Riverside Polytechnic High School, she scored a total of 3,405 points, which made her the Street & Smith's National High School Player of the Year in 1981 and 1982. Later, as a captain of the University of California team.
The Trojans, she helped the team win NCAA titles in 1983 and 1984, and was named NCAA Tournament MVP for both years. She won a gold medal at the Pan America Games in 1983, and at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. She also won a gold medal at the Goodwill Games in 1986.
She is sixth among the all-time great NCAA players to have crossed the 3,000 point benchmark, and also the third-highest rebound scorer in the NCAA history.
Miller suffered from a lot of injuries during the 1980s, which made her quit the professional league. After her retirement as a player, Cheryl decided to become the assistant coach at USC. She also happens to be a Television Sportscaster, and is currently working as a sideline reporter for NBA games on TNT Sports, and a reporter for NBA TV.
Born: April 14, 1963 Nationality: American WNBA Career: 1997-2003 Olympic: Gold (1988), Bronze (1992) Pan American Games: Gold (1987) World Championship: Gold (1990)
Born in 1963, Cooper started playing for her high school basketball team, and led the team to the California State Championship (4A), scoring an average of 31 points per game, and scoring 45 points in a single game, which helped her win the Los Angeles Player of the Year award.
After enrolling at the University of Southern California, she led the college basketball team to NCAA tournament titles in 1983 and 1984. Cooper won an Olympic gold at Seoul in 1988, and a bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She also won the gold medal at the Pan American Games in 1987.
She received the WNBA MVP in 1997 and 1998. In 1990, she won a gold medal at the FIBA World Championship in Malaysia. She was also presented with the CAA coach of the year award in 2010. Inducted in the Hall of Fame in the year 2009, Cooper was also voted as one of the top 15 players in the WNBA history.
Cooper announced her retirement from professional basketball in 2004. Currently, she serves as the head coach for the Texas Southern University women's basketball team.
Born: May 4, 1970 Nationality: American WNBA Career: 1999-2006 Olympic: Gold (1996, 2000, 2004)
Born in 1970, Staley went on to become the National High School Player of the Year during her final season at Dobbins Tech High School in Philadelphia. She attended the University of Virginia and led her team to four NCAA Tournaments, three Final Fours, and one National Championship game.
She was named the ACC Female Athlete of the Year and the National Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992. She won three consecutive gold medals for her country at the Atlanta, Sydney, and Athens Olympics in the years 1996, 2000, and 2004 respectively.
This helped her win the 2004 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year. All through her professional career, she played for WNBA's Charlotte Sting and Houston Comets. She was also the flag bearer for her country at the Athens Olympics.
Apart from being a professional player, Dawn Staley happens to be a renowned coach, and served the US women's basketball team as an assistant coach during the 2008 Olympics. She was voted as one of the top 15 players in WNBA history.
Born: June 11, 1982 Nationality: American WNBA Career: 2004-present Olympic: Gold (2004, 2008, 2012) World Championship: Gold (2010), Bronze (2006)
Diana Taurasi was born in 1982, and completed her preparatory career ranked second to Cheryl Miller in California state history, with a score of 3,047 points. Taurasi was named the WBCA All-American for her great performance at high school.
She had a glamorous start at the University of Connecticut (UConn), leading the college team to three successive titles from 2001-02 to 2003-04. Her personal accolades at UConn include the 2003 and 2004 Naismith College Player of the Year awards, the 2003 Wade Trophy, and the 2003 Associated Press Player of the Year award.
She won three consecutive gold medals for her country at the Athens, Beijing, and London Olympics in the year 2004, 2008, and 2012 respectively. She also won a bronze medal at the 2006 World Championship, and a gold medal at the 2010 World Championship.
Currently, Diana Taurasi plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, and UMMC Ekaterinburg of Russia.
Awards and Honors
Wade Trophy Winner (2003) Naismith Award (2003, 2004) Nancy Lieberman Award (2003, 2004) NCAA National Championship (2002, 2003, 2004)
NCAA Tournament MVP (2003, 2004) WNBA Rookie of the Year (2004) 7× All-WNBA First Team (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) All-WNBA Second Team (2005)
Born: July 7, 1972 Nationality: American WNBA Career: 1997-2009 Olympic: Gold (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008) World Championship: Gold (1998, 2002)
Lisa Leslie was born in 1972. Her basketball skills at junior school prompted many universities to send her recruitment letters to join their respective universities. But she decided to join the University of Southern California, where she holds the USC single season record for blocked shots.
She was honored with the National Freshman of the Year award in 1991, and the Nation's Best Female Basketball player. She won the National Player of the Year in 1994. She was awarded with the All-American Honor in 1992, 1993, and 1994. With a towering height of 6'5", she happens to be the first lady to dunk in women's basketball history.
She was an integral part of the Olympic gold medal winning team on four occasions. She has also been Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the league thrice, and WNBA champion twice. She was awarded with a gold medal at the 1998 and 2002 World Championships.
Apart from being a prolific basketball player, Lisa also happens to be a fashion model. As an aspiring actress, she has acted in a few movies, the most famous being the 'Think Like A Man'. She has also been featured in many sports publications.
8× First Team All-WNBA (1997, 2000 - 2004, 2006, 2008) 4× Second Team All-WNBA (1998 - 1999, 2005, 2009) 2× All-Defensive First Team (2006, 2008) 2× All-Defensive Second Team (2005, 2009)
Born: July 1, 1958 Nationality: American WNBA Career: 1997 - 2009 Olympic: Silver (1976) Pan American Games: Gold (1975), Silver (1979)
Lieberman was born in 1958. Since her early years, her passion for basketball helped her earn a lot of fame. She started playing with pickup boys teams in the neighborhood, and made her way into the US Women's National Basketball team while at high school.
Nicknamed 'Lady Magic', Lieberman became the youngest female player to win a silver medal in basketball at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. She played an eminent part in the basketball team that went on to win a gold and a silver medal in the Pan American Games in 1975 and 1979 respectively.
Lieberman is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
After retiring in 2009, she started to coach the Texas Legends, and became the first lady to coach a men's basketball team.
Born: November 15, 1935 Nationality: American World Championship: Gold (1957)
Born in 1935, Nera White started playing for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), which was sponsored by the Nashville Business College. She led her team to ten AAU National Championships. She was also named AAU All-American for 15 years in a row from 1955 to 1969, and became the most famous player of 1950s and 1960s.
She led the US National Women's Basketball team to victory in the 1957 World Championships, and was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Moreover, she was voted as the Best Woman Player in the World in the same year.
She is the first woman player to be included in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and is quite famous for her graceful maneuvering skills and athleticism.
To honor the great player, the high school gym in her hometown has been named after her, and also a local highway has been renamed the Nera White Highway.
Born: June 14, 1952 Nationality: American Olympic: Silver (1976) Pan American Games: Gold (1975)
Pat Summitt was born in 1952, and started developing her basketball skills during her high school days. After enrolling at the University of Tennessee, she went on to win All-American honors for her splendid performances in basketball during her graduation.
She was an integral part of the women's basketball team that won the silver medal at the 1976 Olympics and a gold medal at the Pan American Games in 1975. Later, she became a coach for the Lady Vols at the University of Tennessee.
She coached the US women's team that won an Olympic gold, which made her the only individual to win a medal both as a player and as a coach at the Olympics. She was awarded with the Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century in April 2000.
In 2012, the White House decided to honor Pat Summitt with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Most notably, she has never faced a losing season in her 38 years of coaching.
Born: October 3, 1973 Nationality: American WNBA Career: 1997-2003 Olympic: Gold (1996)
Born in the year 1973, Lobo set up a state scoring record during her high school career with 2,740 points, which remained unbeaten for 18 years. During her college years at the University of Connecticut, Lobo helped her college team, Huskies, win the 1995 National Championship with an undefeated 35-0 record.
She was awarded the 1995 Naismith and the College Player of the Year award. Lobo went on to bring glory for her country by winning a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Rebecca attracted a great fan-following for her exuberant style. Unfortunately, her career ended quickly due to an injury to her left leg.
She has a lot of awards to her honor, which mainly include the NCAA Women's Basketball Player of the Year, the Wade Trophy, and the WNBA's Eastern All-Star team Award.
Lobo retired in 2003.
Awards and Honors
WNBA All-Star (1999) NCAA Women's Basketball Player of the Year The Wade Trophy WNBA's Eastern All-Star team Award.
Born: August 28, 1979 Nationality: American WNBA Career: 2001-2014 Olympic: Gold (2004)
Born in 1979, Ruth Riley started practicing basketball during high school. She scored 1,372 points, acquired 1,011 rebounds, and blocked 427 shots during her high school career. Her skills were highlighted at a later stage, when she gave her college team an unexpected win against Purdue during the last few seconds in the 2001 NCAA tournament.
She won the Most Valuable Player award in the 2001 and 2003 championship series, and is the first player to win the MVP award in both NCAA and WNBA championships. Along with these honors, she is a winner of a gold medal at the Athens Olympics, 2004.
Riley has played for WNBA's Miami Sols, Detroit Shock, and San Antonio Silver Stars, and is currently playing for the Chicago Sky. She was appointed to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports by President George W. Bush, in 2009.
Born: March 25, 1971 Nationality: American WNBA Career: 1997- 2011 Olympic: Gold (1996, 2000, 2004) World Championship: Gold (1998, 2002) Bronze (1994,2006)
Sheryl Swoopes was born in the year 1971. Her passion for basketball helped her become a member of the 1988 Texas State Championship team. During her college years, Swoopes made many records at Texas Tech, and also won the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship with the Texas Tech Lady Raiders during her senior season.
Having achieved a feat of winning three consecutive gold medals for her country at the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympics, Swoopes also won a bronze at the 2006 Brazil World Championship.
Swoopes has played for WNBA's Houston Comets and Seattle Storm. Currently, she is a team member of the WNBA's Tulsa Shock.
Awards and Honors
6× WNBA All-Star (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006) 4× WNBA Champion (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000) 3× WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Award 3× WNBA MVP Award 2× WNBA scoring champion (2000, 2005)
Born: September 22, 1979 Nationality: American WNBA Career: 2002-present Olympic: Gold (2004, 2012) World Championship: Gold (2010)
Born in 1979, Swin developed her basketball skills and participated at the WBCA High School All-America Game, which helped her earn MVP honors at an early age. Later, Cash enrolled in the University of Connecticut (UConn) and went on to win the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship with the UConn Huskies in 2000 and 2002.
Being a prolific ball handler, defender, re-bounder, and scorer, Swin won a couple of prestigious UConn titles in 2000 and 2002. She led the Detroit Shock to their first-ever WNBA title in her second season. Swin Cash is an important member of the US National Basketball Team and has helped the team win gold medals at the 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games.
She was also awarded with the 2002 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player. She has also been conferred with four WNBA All-Star and three WNBA Champion awards.
Currently, Swin Cash plays for the WNBA's Chicago Sky.
Awards and Honors
NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player (2002) AP All-American (2002) Dapper Dan Sportswoman of the Year (2007) 4× WNBA All-Star (2003, 2005, 2009, 2011) 2× WNBA All-Star MVP (2009, 2011) 3× WNBA Champion (2003, 2006, 2010)
Born: July 19, 1964 Nationality: American Olympic: Gold (1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000), Bronze (1992) Pan American Games: Gold (1987), Bronze (1991) World Championship: Gold (1990)
Born in the year 1964, Teresa Edwards started her career at high school in Georgia, and was soon honored with the Georgia High School Player of the Year in 1982. Later, her college career started at the University of Georgia, where she became a two-time All-American.
She went on to win four Olympic gold medals in 1984, 1988, 1996, and 2000, along with a bronze at the 1992 Olympic. She is the first female player to play in five Olympics. She also achieved a gold medal at the 1990 Malaysia FIBA World Championship. Edwards was also the member of the team that won a gold medal at the Pan American Games in 1987.
She was appointed as the Chef de Mission for the 2012 Olympic games by the US Olympic committee.
At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Edwards also served as an analyst for NBC Sports coverage of basketball. She became the head coach of WNBA's Tulsa Shock in the year 2011.
Born: November 7, 1959 Nationality: American WNBA Career: President of WNBA (1995-2005)
Born in 1959, Ackerman started her basketball career at Hopewell Valley Central High School, New Jersey. Later, she went to the University of Virginia for graduation, and became the first female scholarship athlete of the college.
Her award list consists of the gold medal won at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Ackerman went on to become the first president of the Women's National Basketball Association, serving from 1996 to 2005.
Apart from this reputed post, she was also inducted into the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1997.
After her retirement from professional basketball, Ackerman progressed her career as an attorney and a sports executive. She also teaches Leadership and Personnel Management in Columbia University's Master of Science in Sports Management Program.
'Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration', and these women embody the words aptly.