BEST FEMALE PRO ATHLETE - 2007
Too bad the women's game isn't more universally popular. Maybe it's that two-tone ball. Or the fact that only a few of the players can dunk? In any case, it's a shame because Taurasi is the proverbial poet in high-tops, a much more mesmerizing player than men's star Nash. A few years ago, she was dubbed the greatest collegiate basketball player (male or female) of all time after leading the University of Connecticut women's team to three straight NCAA championships from 2002-04. And we'd say she's the best athlete in the women's game today. At almost 6 feet, Taurasi was the number one draft pick of the Phoenix Mercury in 2004, after being the youngest player on the women's Team USA in the 2004 Olympics that won the gold medal. In her second year with the Mercury, she was named a starter on the WNBA all-star team. She has since made three all-star appearances. In 2007, she led the Mercury to the franchise's first WNBA championship. The first player in history to break the 800-point mark in a single season (860) in 2006, she is one of a handful of players in her league who can take over a game.
And when she doesn't, she can get pissed. She got a two-game suspension this season for, um, disrespecting the refs in a loss to the Bill Laimbeer-coached Detroit Shock.
But her feistiness is a major reason we love her. She's not a superstar in her game because of skill and conditioning alone it's the 'tude that puts her over the top.