Bird, Jackson Named to All-WNBA Second Team

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Kevin Pelton, | October 3, 2008
Two very different seasons landed Seattle Storm stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird on the All-WNBA Second Team Friday, as the league finished handing out awards for the 2008 season prior to Game 2 of the WNBA Finals in San Antonio. Jackson saw her five-year streak of First Team appearances come to an end, but managed to still earn Second Team honors despite missing 13 games. Bird, meanwhile, earned All-WNBA honors for the first time since 2005 largely on the strength of her performance in Jackson's absence.

Donna Orender presents Sue Bird with her All-WNBA award.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images
The WNBA also announced its 2008 MVP presented by T-Mobile on Friday. Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker became the first rookie ever to win the award. Bird finished third in the voting with 218.51 points between ballots cast by media and the new online fan vote. She trailed Parker (276.79 points) and Connecticut's Lindsay Whalen (242.08). Bird did achieve her highest finish in MVP voting, having placed fifth as a rookie in 2002.

While she led the league in assists during the first half of the season, Bird did not truly emerge as an MVP candidate until Jackson left the Storm in late July to train with the Australian National Team. Arthroscopic surgery on her right ankle after the Olympics sidelined Jackson for the duration of the season, and Bird averaged 17.5 points and 3.6 assists over the next 11 games as the Storm went 7-4 to clinch second place in the Western Conference.

Though Bird's performance was not quite enough to earn her MVP, it put her back on the All-WNBA Team after a two-year absence. She was a First Team performer each of her first four WNBA seasons, one of just two players (Houston's Cynthia Cooper the other) to achieve that feat. Bird came within three points of returning to the First Team, finishing with 163 points in voting by the media to 166 for San Antonio's Sophia Young and 171 for Phoenix's Diana Taurasi.

During the 21 games she did play for the Storm, Jackson put up MVP-caliber numbers, averaging 20.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Though she did not qualify for many of the league leaderboards because of the time she missed, Jackson finished second in the league in free-throw percentage (.934) and 13th in blocks (33). Had she qualified, Jackson would have ranked third in the league in scoring average and in the top 10 in rebounds and blocks per game.

That was enough for Jackson to earn 68 points and the final spot on the All-WNBA Second Team. This is her first Second Team appearance, having previously made the First Team every time she was honored as part of the All-WNBA Teams. Jackson also finished 10th in MVP voting with 41.79 points. Storm forward Swin Cash got 6.35 points to give the Storm three players in the top 10.