Cash Takes MVP Honors in West’s Win

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All-Star MVP Honors a Significant Step in the Return of Swin Cash
For Cash, All-Star Appearance is Special
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Kevin Pelton, | July 25, 2009
In her return to the WNBA All-Star Game after a four-year absence, Swin Cash left no doubt she belonged. The Seattle Storm forward, voted to join teammates Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson in the Western Conference's starting lineup, scored an All-Star record 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Cash added six rebounds and four assists to become the first Storm player to win All-Star MVP honors.

"I was just really humbled by winning the MVP tonight," Cash told reporters. "I want to thank my teammates for not only passing me the ball, but for the encouragement in the fourth quarter to go out there and keep being aggressive. That was nice."

"I was just really humbled by winning the MVP tonight."
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty
Comfortable as part of a starting five that was three-fifths made up of Storm players, Cash was hot early. She had 14 points by halftime as the Storm's trio accounted for 31 points - nearly half of the West's total. Cash then scored a pair of buckets in the West's 16-7 run that gave them a comfortable advantage in a game that had been close throughout.

Her final score allowed Cash to surpass Sacramento's Nicole Powell, who finished with 21 points, as the game's leading scorer. Cash and Bird also had the game's best plus-minus, the West outscoring the East by 17 points during their 23 minutes of action.

In the highest-scoring All-Star Game in WNBA history, surpassing the last All-Star trip to Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Arena four years ago, the big difference was the Western Conference's hot shooting from three-point range. The West made 18 three-pointers in 39 attempts, outshooting the East 46.2 percent to 32.4 percent. Powell led the way with five three-pointers, but Bird made four in five attempts and Jackson was a perfect 3-for-3 beyond the arc.

Bird made her own case for MVP honors by excelling both as a scorer and a playmaker. She scored 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, handed out a game-high 10 assists and even grabbed five rebounders. Jackson's day was over early as she rested, having missed two games in the past week because of a mild strain of her left Achilles tendon. She played seven minutes, all in the first half, and scored nine points.

The West snapped a two-game losing streak in All-Star competition and improved to 7-2 all-time in All-Star play. Though the game was played in an Eastern Conference arena, it was a homecoming for the West's Bird and Cash as well as reserves Diana Taurasi and Charde Houston, who starred in college at the University of Connecticut and were treated as returning heroes. At one point, West Head Coach Dan Hughes had all four UConn alumnae on the floor along with Jackson, who may as well qualify as an honorary Husky given her close friendships with Bird and Taurasi.

Ultimately, however, it was Cash who stole the show. Given the significance of her first selection to the All-Star Game since battling back problems that ultimately required surgery before the season, it was a timely reminder of Cash's place amongst the league's best players and a fitting honor.

"Itís really nice; poetic justice really," said Taurasi, a college teammate of Cash's. "Swin has worked so hard her whole career and to kind of go through a little down time in her career where I knew she wasnít playing at the level she knew she can, and to go into the offseason, get surgery, get healthy, come back looking better than ever, it just shows you how hard and dedicated of a person she is."

By winning All-Star MVP honors, Swin Cash joined an elite group of six players who have earned the accolade representing the city of Seattle.
Seattle Storm (WNBA)
2009 - Swin Cash

Seattle Mariners (MLB)
1992 - Ken Griffey, Jr.
2007 - Ichiro

Seattle SuperSonics (NBA)
1971 - Lenny Wilkens
1987 - Tom Chambers

Seattle Seahawks (NFL)
1998 - Warren Moon