Before Sue Bird there was a 5’11” floor general hailing from Figueira da Foz, Portugal by the name of Ticha Penicheiro. The 2nd overall pick in the WNBA’s second-ever draft, Penicheiro entered the fresh-faced league with one goal, redefine the point guard position and do so with flair.
Penicheiro did that, and much, much more. She finished her career as the WNBA’s all-time assists leader (2,599) and racked up no-look pass after crafty dish after unfathomable find on the floor. As Sue Bird approcahes Penicheiro’s assists record look back at the storied career that was that of Ticha Penicheiro.
- Penicheiro began her career at Old Dominion in Virginia. The Portuguese native played at ODU from 1994-1998 leading the Lady Monarchs to the 1997 NCAA Championship game and finishing as the school's time steal leader (591) and second in career assists (939).1 of 14
- Penicheiro was drafted in 1998 with the second overall pick by the Sacramento Monarchs. The Monarchs were one of the WNBA's eight original franchises and were looking for a competent point guard who could run the show. Penicheiro would prove to be that as she finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in her first professional season.2 of 14
- At the turn of the new millennium the stars were out in full effect as Penicheiro and the rest of the WNBA's top talent took to the floor in Phoenix. Ticha started the contest and finished with a game-high four assists.3 of 14
- In 2002 Penicheiro was selected to her fourth-straight All-Star Game. At the showcase that was played in D.C. that year she would play on the same team with a then rookie named Sue Bird. Little did the two masters of the pass know just how closely their careers would forever be tied to each other.4 of 14
- On August 13th, 2002 Penicheiro was awarded with a game ball prior to tip after she recorded her 1,000 career assist the contest before. Ticha would go on to record a whopping 1,599 more before her career was over.5 of 14
- With Ticha as the team's unquestioned leader and motor in the backcourt the Monarchs would make the postseason in five of her first seven seasons in Sacramento.6 of 14
- In 2005 Penicheiro led the Monarchs to a 25-9 regular season record. After the team swept the first two rounds of the playoffs they were set for a showdown with the Connecticut Sun. The Monarchs, and Ticha would win the title in four games and hoist the championship trophy for the first and only time in the franchise's history. Penicheiro led Sacramento in assists per game (4.4) that season.7 of 14
- After spending the first 12 seaons of the her WNBA careeer in Sacramento the Monarchs franchise folded and Penicheiro was forced to find a new home. She landed in the city of Angels. She would team up with fellow legend Tina Thompson and then up and coming star in the making Candace Parker. Again, Ticha would lead her new team in assists per game (6.9) in her first season in Los Angeles.8 of 14
- Penicheiro after a stellar first season in L.A. where she led not only the Sparks but the WNBA as a whole in assists per game with 6.9, Penicheiro was awarded with the league's Peak Performer Award which is given to players who led the league in certain statistical categories at the end of the regular season.9 of 14
- Prior to the 2011 All-Star game in San Antonio, Penicheiro would add another award to her overflowing trophy case as she was named one of the 15 best players in the history of the WNBA in its 15th year of existence. Despite being 37 years old, Ticha was still formidable with the ball in her hands, she again led the Sparks in assists per game (4.8) although it would be her final season in Los Angeles.10 of 14
- Ticha's final season would come in 2012 as a member of the Chicago Sky. The wily veteran only played 19 games in her final season but in those contests averaged 5.8 assists per game, showcasing her ability to defeat father time when it came to play on the floor.11 of 14
- Penicheiro's played her final WNBA game on September 22, 2012 in front of a packed Allstate Arena in Illinois. Fans of all ages came out to impart their appreciation for a spectacular career that was. Then Sky coach Pokey Chatman greeted the watery-eyed immortal with a hug as she exited the game for the final time in her career.12 of 14
- Throughout her career Penicheiro was committed to bettering the commuinities in the city's she played for. In her final season in Chicago she played in a integral role in a WNBA Cares event in the city where children were gifted with new shoes as a part of the Samaritan Feet Shoe Distribution.13 of 14
- Although her career may have ended in 2012 Penicheiro's achievements have not lost their luster. In 2016, as a part of the WNBA's historic 20th season Ticha was selected as one of the top 20 players to ever don a WNBA jersey. Her legacy will live on long after her records have fallen.14 of 14