Texas Tech's Sheryl Swoops Named WNBA MVP|
Aug. 18, 2000
By MICHAEL A. LUTZ
HOUSTON -- Sheryl Swoopes started her WNBA career out of shape, recovering from maternity leave and struggling to improve her defense.
Four years later, her hard work paid high dividends when the Houston Comets star was named the WNBA MVP on Thursday.
She earned the league's defensive player of the year honor on Tuesday and got a bigger reward Thursday night when the Comets beat the Los Angeles Sparks 77-56 in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series.
"It seems like when I think things can't get any better, they get better," Swoopes said. "I have a lot of people to thank. The one thing I said, if I won the MVP trophy I wasn't going to cry."
She did cry Thursday, thanking her teammates and all the supporting cast that helped her earn the MVP trophy. But she still wants more.
"The one thing that could make this greater would be to beat L.A.," Swoopes said. "At this time of year, the real players take their games to another level, and that's one thing that my teammates and I will have to do."
The Comets could wrap up their fourth straight trip to the WNBA finals with a victory at Los Angeles on Sunday. A third game, if necessary, would be at Staples Center on Monday.
Swoopes received 527 points and 38 first-place votes to edge Sparks center Lisa Leslie with 450 votes.
Yolanda Griffith of Sacramento was third with 224 points and Natalie Williams of Utah fourth with 125 points. Cynthia Cooper, a two-time MVP winner, and Tina Thompson, both of Houston, finished fifth and sixth.
Swoopes said her slow start in the WNBA because of her pregnancy and the four years of hard work to reach the top made winning the MVP award special.
"There were a lot of expectations placed on some of us when this league was started, Rebeca Lobo and Lisa Leslie too," Swoopes said. "To help the Houston Comets win three titles and then win this, that's makes it very special for me."
WNBA president Val Ackerman said Swoopes passed the "Wow" test.
"When you go to a game and see a shot, a play or a player coming through, you say `did you see that? Wow,"' Ackerman said. "This year it seems that Sheryl Swoopes and `wow' were pretty much synonymous."
Swoopes averaged 20.7 points in the 2000 season, taking the league scoring title from Cooper, who won it the first three seasons of the WNBA. Leading the WNBA with 2.81 steals per game helped Swoopes win her defensive honor. She also averaged 3.8 assists, 1.06 blocked shots and 6.3 rebounds.