The great wonder, the great attraction,
of sport is that everyone posseses two things - a favorite and an opinion. More
often than not, they come from considerable and equal passion. Several years ago,
some marketing type figured he could capture both of those by having the fans
vote for the all-star team. Fans vote their favorite, others give their opinion.
It is an uneasy but wonderfully productive alliance.
fact that people like me in the media who see tons of games, coaches who are charged
with evaluating and developing talent, and players who compete with each other
every game have a considerably broader base of experience to select the all-star
roster matters not. This is the fans' game. The media, coaches and players should
never forget that.
So, in this case (and probably
more cases than I would care to know), my opinion is no more or less valid than
anyone who cast a vote.
Below are my selections for
starters in the 2006 WNBA All-Star Game.
F - Tamika Catchings: As
I try to conjure up an image of what it means to be a competitor, Catch is what
I see. When Sheryl Swoopes calls you her toughest matchup, you know you are good.
F - Tamika Whitmore: While averaging career
highs in points and rebounds, Whitmore's play has been a huge factor in Indiana
being just half a game out of first in the East.
C - Cheryl Ford: Ford
is the most dominant force on the boards in the game today and her offensive game
is coming. Look out. In the future, whatever it takes, I want her on USA Basketball.
G - Katie Douglas: Is there anything she doesn't do for the Sun?
In the past, even when Douglas struggled offensively, she was always on the floor
for Connecticut because she typically is guarding the opponents best Player. This
year, she continues to wreak havoc on the defensive end while leading the team
in scoring. Her 16.2 points if 4 points better than her career best.
- Alana Beard: Like Douglas, Beard gives you impact on both ends of the floor.
My bet is Olympic Coach Ann Donovan would like Beard to fill one of the four remaining
spots on the World Championship team. Putting the bisquit in the basket is the
name of the game. But, when an opponent is lighting you up, Beard is a stop gap!
- Lauren Jackson: Like Tamika Catchings, Jackson is the perfect combination
of great skills and competitive toughness. Certain players inspire confidence
in tough spots. I'll take L.J.
F - Tina Thompson: After working
her way back into shape last season, Thompson is clearly back among the elite.
Averaging a team leading 17 points per game, Tina has helped the Comets to a very
solid second in the West.
C - Lisa Leslie: The snub of Lisa by the
fans surprised me more than any other. Hampered by injury through much of 2005,
Leslie has given LA the best record in the league, in spite of the fact that Holdsclaw
had to miss six games while attending to family matters. It goes way beyond skills
as a basketball player, which remain amongst the best in the world. Lisa's leadership
has steadied a new staff navigating their first full season in the WNBA.
- Diana Taurasi: Despite new players, new coaches and a new and demanding
system, Diana continues to flourish. Despite drawing an opponents best perimeter
defender on a nightly basis, D leads the WNBA in scoring and is shooting 41% from
G - Seimone Augustus: I thought Seimone would be highly productive
right away. Her skill set and maturity were ready for this level. What has surprised
me is her consistency. This league is full of talented and competitive players
and it will challenge the best both physically and mentally. You better bring
it every night. She has!