When you’re looking for the best black female basketball players, the best place to start is the top, and you can’t get any higher than A’ja Wilson. Wilson, a forward, wears the 22 jerseys for the Las Vegas Aces and only narrowly missed out (by one vote) on the coveted title of ‘Associated Press Player of the Year (APPY).’
The WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) is a professional basketball league comprising 12 US teams. Founded in 1996 as the female answer to the NBA, play started in earnest in 1997 and has not looked back.
The season starts in May and reaches the finale with the playoffs in October. Some of America’s finest athletes play basketball in the WNBA. Regarding the best black female basketball players, the WNBA has some star players who bring skill and panache to a game that might otherwise be lacking.
Along with Wilson, Alyssa Thomas is bounding up the rear, taking third place at this year’s APPY awards. Let’s look at these players and others in the recent sports updates who are lighting up the scoreboard for their teams.
A’ja Wilson Brings It Home
Wilson is an experienced and talented player from Hopkins, South Carolina. Twice winning the title of ‘Defensive Player of the Year’ in 2022 and again in 2023. At five seasons in, Wilson is one of the best WNBA players to come out of the 2018 draft.
It’s not all about basketball; according to her website, Wilson is in the business of inspiring, empowering, and engaging others. At 27, Wilson knows she is a role model and says in no uncertain terms, ‘In addition to being a superstar on the professional stage, she remains true to her Columbia community.’ More than that, no one can ask; that’s why we celebrate A’ja Wilson.
Alyssa Thomas for Connecticut Sun
Thomas is also a forward for Connecticut Sun, wearing the 25 shirt; she’s in her 9th season, an experienced and talented player. Hailing from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, standing at 6ft,2 Thomas is more than the sum of her parts in current sports news.
Winning the All-Defensive 1st Team title in 2022 and 2023, this 31-year-old superstar announced her engagement on Instagram to a teammate and now lifetime partner, DeWanna Bonner, another gifted black player who deserves a mention on this list.
Sometimes, to go forward, we must go back, and that’s why Lisa Leslie is next up for a shout-out.
Lisa Leslie Coaches BIG3 Basketball League
Right back at the beginning of the WNBA, some players made their mark on the fledgling game, and Leslie is right up there! Before retiring with honors in 2009, Leslie played for the Los Angeles Sparks, winning two WNBA championships. She was a WNBA All-Star eight times in her career and was named MVP another four times.
Leslie has four Olympic gold medals and two FIBA World Championship titles, but one of her most historic moments was the dunk in a WNBA game – the dunk first is always the best, and Leslie holds that accolade. Nowadays, Coach Leslie inspires rookies, and long may that continue.
Sheryl Swoopes Swoops into Tame Nike
Swoopes, another player from the formative days of the league, was the first to be signed to the WNBA. Boasting four WNBA championships, three MVP titles, three WNBA All-Star selections, and five All-WNBA First Team picks, Swoopes and her fans can look back on an extremely successful career.
During her career (1997-2011), Swoopes served in the United States National Team, winning three Olympic golds and two World Cups. What’s more, Swoopes is the first women’s basketball player to have a Nike AirMax named after her – you’ve heard of ‘AirJordans’? Well, these are ‘AirSwoopes’.
We’ve been back, and now let’s move to the present with Brittney Griner, a name WNBA fans haven’t seen much due to a spell in Russian Jail.
Brittney Griner Does Time
Griner is back after missing the entire 2022 season. Detained in Russia on unlikely drug charges. Griner was sentenced to nine years of hard labor but actually spent nearly ten months in custody before being released via a prisoner swap deal at the back end of 2022.
We celebrate Griner as an athlete and a campaigner who, after suffering injustice of her own, advocates for LGBTQ+ youth who face discrimination. In 2020, Griner and teammate Brianna Turner protested the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Griner’s basketball career is impressive; as the number one pick in the 2013 WNBA draft, she led her old alma mater, Baylor Univ, to a championship in 2012 and collected accolades that included AP Player of the Year, Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, and Best Female Athlete ESPY award.
Griner is the only basketball player in the NCAA to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots and probably the only WNBA to endure ten months of Kasha (Porridge). This takes us back neatly to DeWanna Bonner….
DeWanna Bonner From Russia With Love
Bonner is an American-Macedonian professional basketball player for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, now engaged to Alyssa Thomas, making them the power couple everyone is talking about. However, Bonner has her own stats she can be proud of, including playing internationally in the offseason.
During the WNBA offseason, Bonner has played in the Czech Republic for BK Brno, Spain for Rivas Ecópolis and CB Avenida, and Russia for Nadezhda Orenburg.
There are, of course, many more black female basketball players that deserve a mention. For instance, Jewell Loyd. Loyd was the first overall draft pick in the 2015 WNBA for the Seattle Storm, an impressive player.
Aliyah Boston is an impressive young player from the LL school, winning the accolade of Lisa Leslie Center of the Year. The WNBA is full of impressive black athletes, so why not keep up-to-date?
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