Best Female Pro Athlete (2008)

Mercury guard Cappie Pondexter

Diana Taurasi may have the college records and may be considered by hoops experts to be the best WNBA player ever, but she certainly didn't show it in last season's league championship against the Detroit Shock. She wasn't bad, but you know who was great? Cappie Pondexter. Maybe it was because Taurasi was double-teamed, maybe it was because she let her temper get the best of her (read: foul trouble), but Pondexter was the reason the Mercury brought the title to Phoenix. A sparkplug for the team from her guard position all season, Pondexter was so good in the finals that she was named series MVP. In the clinching game, she scored 26 points and added 10 assists.

Pondexter's the first to say she couldn't have done it without Taurasi and forward Penny Taylor, but she's too modest. Her athleticism, demonstrated by her speed and ball-handling skills, put the Mercury over the top against coach Bill Laimbeer's favored Shock. Said former Mercury coach Paul Westhead, who has since split for an assistant coach's job for the Seattle SuperSonics: "Cappie proved surely in the playoffs that she was the key player for us." At 5-foot-9 (one of the smallest players in the league), Pondexter's always been a killer. She's been a WNBA all-star during all her seasons as a pro, a scoring leader at Rutgers, an international basketball star with Fenerbahck Istanbul, and a member of the USA women's Gold Medal-winning team in Beijing.

This year, injuries hampered her, and the team didn't make the playoffs. But, our prediction is that she'll be back at full strength next year.


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