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Sparks’ Leslie Wins 2001 WNBA MVP

NEW YORK, Aug. 26 — Lisa Leslie of the Los Angeles Sparks has been named the recipient of the 2001 WNBA Most Valuable Player presented by Buick Rendezvous. Leslie finished the regular season as the WNBA’s second leading scorer (19.5 points per game) while leading the Sparks to a league-best 28-4 record.

The 6-5 center, who is in her fifth WNBA season, will receive $25,000 from the league in conjunction with the award, and Buick will present her with a new 2002 Buick Rendezvous.

Leslie received 563 points and 51 first-place votes from a national panel of 60 sportswriters and broadcasters. Houston’s Tina Thompson (355 points), Sacramento’s Yolanda Griffith (190), Minnesota’s Katie Smith (178) and New York’s Tari Phillips (83) rounded out the top five in votes received. Media participating in the vote were asked to select their top five choices for the award, with 10 points awarded for a first-place vote, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth and one for fifth.

During the 2001 season, Leslie became the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer with 2,670 points, passing former Houston Comets guard Cynthia Cooper (2,537). She finished the regular season in the top 10 in scoring (19.5 ppg, 2nd), rebounding (9.6 rebounds per game, 3rd) and blocked shots (2.29 blocks per game, 2nd) and recorded 16 double-doubles.

Leslie was named MVP of the 2001 WNBA All-Star Game, making her the first WNBA player to capture All-Star and regular-season MVP honors in the same season. She was twice selected as the Player of the Week this season while leading the Sparks on a WNBA record 18-game winning streak, as Los Angeles became the first WNBA team to remain undefeated at home (16-0) for an entire season.

The 60-member voting panel consisted of 12 national media representatives, as
well as media representatives from each of the league’s 16 markets who cover the WNBA regularly.

Below are the complete results of the 2001 WNBA Most Valuable Player presented by Buick Rendezvous vote and past recipients of the award:


Votes Coach Team
563 Lisa Leslie Los Angeles Sparks
355 Tina Thompson Houston Comets
190 Yolanda Griffith Sacramento Monarchs
178 Katie Smith Minnesota Lynx
83 Tari Phillips New York Liberty
67 Natalie Williams Utah Starzz
46 Janeth Arcain Houston Comets
34 Merlakia Jones Cleveland Rockers
8 Jennifer Azzi Utah Starzz
8 Chamique Holdsclaw Washington Mystics
7 Debbie Black Miami Sol
6 Elena Baranova Miami Sol
6 Andrea Stinson Charlotte Sting
5 Ticha Penicheiro Sacramento Monarchs
3 Dawn Staley Charlotte Sting
1 Chasity Melvin Cleveland Rockers


2000 — Sheryl Swoopes, Houston Comets

1999 — Yolanda Griffith, Sacramento Monarchs

1998 — Cynthia Cooper, Houston Comets

1997 — Cynthia Cooper, Houston Comets