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W25: The GOAT case for former Houston Comet Cynthia Cooper

Certainly one of my favourite stats concerning the WNBA is that no championship staff has repeated since 2002. Of the entire greats who’ve come by means of the league since then, and who’ve gained a number of championships throughout their careers, none of them has sustained dominance for multiple season at a time because the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002.

The one staff to ever win three titles in a row was the Houston Comets, who captured the primary 4 WNBA crowns and stay (tied) atop the franchise leaderboard for championships regardless of having disbanded in 2008. When pondering of WNBA dynasties, the Comets are actually the one one.

That’s why any dialogue of the WNBA best of all time has to begin and finish with that Houston staff. Constantly successful with a goal in your again is the mark of true excellence, and no staff has been in a position to do this just like the Houston Comets, which implies their chief, Cynthia Cooper, must be the WNBA GOAT.

The WNBA GOAT.
Picture by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Photos

In 4 full seasons within the WNBA, she gained 4 titles and was named the Finals MVP every time. Cooper was on the All-WNBA First Group all 4 seasons, was a scoring champion her first three years, and was the league’s MVP in 1997 and 1998. She stays the league’s chief in profession factors per sport at 20.98.

If superior stats are your jam, Cooper holds the report for many win shares in a person season with 10.02 in her 1998 marketing campaign. She has three of the highest seven seasons of all time greater than 20 years later.

The WNBA put together a list of seven criteria to find out the pool for the highest 25 gamers of all time. If we’re choosing a GOAT, the qualifiers needs to be much more strict. On the naked minimal, the best of all time needs to be a participant who was the very best within the league for a minimum of one season, and on the best stage. Realistically, a GOAT ought to have a minimum of one MVP and one Finals MVP for this designation.

That leaves us with 10 gamers eligible for the dignity: Cooper, Yolanda Griffith, Lisa Leslie, Lauren Jackson, Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings, Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, and Breanna Stewart.

It’s exhausting to seek out a lot fault with any participant on that record. Jackson was a menace at her peak, and her fellow Storm ahead Stewart is broadly thought to be the present greatest participant on the planet; Leslie was a back-to-back champion and the primary nice heart; and Catchings and Taurasi’s careers are unmatched of their longevity.

1999 WNBA Finals - Game Three: New York Liberty v Houston Comets

The very best staff of all time was led by the league’s best participant.
Picture by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE by way of Getty Photos

However Cooper’s particular person peak was higher than any of theirs. Though she solely performed 4 years within the WNBA as a result of she was 34 years outdated on the league’s inception, she optimized her time higher than anybody else.

Cooper was the primary face of the league, regardless of the WNBA powers that be having no thought simply how good she was. Val Ackerman told The Undefeated in 2016 that the league wouldn’t have paired Cooper and Swoopes collectively had they realized how gifted the eventual four-time champion was. However Cooper bought the chance to play with Swoopes and Tina Thompson, and he or she took full benefit to point out the American viewers what that they had been lacking out on earlier than the WNBA’s existence.

Admittedly, rings aren’t the one measure of the success of a participant, and it’s unfair that Catchings particularly suffers traditionally due to the absence of a great supporting solid on her Indiana Fever groups. Griffith is the sufferer of an analogous destiny.

However after we’re speaking concerning the best of all time, the complete resume issues. And Cooper’s is as adorned as anybody else’s regardless of how brief her profession ended up being. At her greatest, a charge of play that she maintained for nearly the whole thing of her temporary WNBA profession, Cooper’s efficiency was unparalleled. She helped start the league and a dynasty on the similar time.

The story of the WNBA is incomplete with out Cynthia Cooper. She set a typical for future gamers to fulfill, and everybody who has come since remains to be working to clear that bar.

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