Lisa Leslie Wins 2006 WNBA Most Valuable Player Award
New York, September 3, 2006 - Lisa Leslie of the Los Angeles Sparks has been named the 2006 WNBA Most Valuable Player, the league announced today. Leslie, who also was named MVP following the 2001 and 2004 WNBA seasons, joins Sheryl Swoopes as the only players in league history to capture the award three times.
Leslie received the most votes from a panel of national sportswriters and broadcasters. Panel members were asked to select their top five choices for the award, with 10 points being awarded for a first place vote, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth and one for fifth. Leslie received 40 first place votes and her total of 508 points more than doubled that of her nearest contender, Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury, who received 211 points.
Rounding out the top five vote-getters were: Connecticut Sun forward Katie Douglas (208 points), Seattle Storm forward Lauren Jackson (193 points) and Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings, the 2006 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (181 points).
"We are extremely proud of Lisa's performance," said WNBA President Donna Orender, "particularly in a year in which so many players gave outstanding efforts and so many records were set. Established superstars like Lisa, Lauren Jackson and Tamika Catchings had perhaps the best year of their respective careers and young stars like Diana Taurasi and Cheryl Ford emerged as superstars. Players like Katie Douglas and Alana Beard posted breakthrough seasons and four rookies from an outstanding draft class were selected to the All-Star Game. All of that makes Lisa's effort that much more outstanding."
An All-WNBA team selection in each of her ten seasons, a seven-time All-Star, three-time All-Star MVP, two-time Finals MVP and three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Leslie now becomes the second player in league history to garner the MVP award three-times. Sheryl Swoopes of the Houston Comets earned her MVP titles in 2000, 2002 and 2005.
While leading the Sparks to the best record in the Western Conference (25-9), Leslie also led the league in double-doubles (17) and defensive rebounds (240); ranked second in total rebounds (323) and blocks (57); third in points (680), free throws (158) and field goals made (257), and sixth in field-goal percentage (51.1 percent). So dominant was Leslie's performance that she led Los Angeles in both points and rebounds in the same game in 16 of the Sparks' 34 contests.
In her 10th WNBA season, Leslie, who was selected to the League's All-Decade Team in June, posted career-high figures for points and assists per game (20.0 and 3.2) and also logged the best field-goal shooting percentage of her career (51.1). In one particular effort, Leslie also established personal career-bests for most points (41) and most field-goals made (16) in a win over San Antonio on June 25.
Leslie became the first WNBA
player to reach 5,000 points this season. She tops the all time charts in career
scoring (5,412) and rebounding (2,863) and ranks second in blocks (692) and total
minutes (9,932) and sixth in steals (427).
In conjunction with the award, Leslie will receive $15,000 from the league.
Below are the results for the Most Valuable Player voting and past recipients:
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER 2006 VOTING RESULTS
508 - Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
211 - Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
208 - Katie Douglas, Connecticut Sun
193 - Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
181 - Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
59 - Cheryl Ford, Detroit Shock
26 - Alana Beard, Washington Mystics
18 - Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Connecticut Sun
15 - Sheryl Swoopes, Houston Comets
12 - Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
5 - Tina Thompson, Houston Comets
4 - Sue Bird, Seattle Storm
PREVIOUS MOST VALUABLE PLAYER WINNERS
2006 - Lisa Leslie,
Los Angeles Sparks
2005 - Sheryl Swoopes, Houston Comets
2004 - Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
2003 - Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
2002 - Sheryl Swoopes, Houston Comets
2001 - Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
2000 - Sheryl Swoopes, Houston Comets
1999 - Yolanda Griffith, Sacramento Monarchs
1998 - Cynthia Cooper, Houston Comets
1997 - Cynthia Cooper, Houston Comets
Featuring 14 teams and the greatest female basketball players from around the world, the WNBA is the longest-running and most successful women's professional team sports league in U.S. history. The 2006 WNBA Finals are now underway as reigning champions, the Sacramento Monarchs face off against the Detroit Shock. Complete coverage of the Finals are being provided by ESPN2, with Game 3 tipping off on September 3 at 4:30 p.m. ET.