WNBA Biography: Sheryl Swoopes

I remember the first time I ever saw Sheryl Swoopes play basketball. Not only was she putting up nearly unheard of scoring statistics while leading her college team, the Texas Tech Red Raiders to the 1993 NCAA Women’s National Basketball Championship during her senior season, but she had a grace and style about her – not to mention, good looks – that endeared her to every basketball fan across the country, male or female.

Since that time nearly two decades ago, the 6-0, 185-pound Swoopes has won three Olympic Gold Medals and is also a three-time WNBA MVP. Frequently referred to as the “female Michael Jordan,” Swoopes is one of the most accomplished female basketball players in history.

Swoopes was drafted by the Houston Comets for the inaugural WNBA season in 1997 but missed two-thirds of the season after giving birth to her son, to play the last third of the season and help lead the Comets in the 1997 WNBA Championship.
Swoopes, along with Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson, would become one of the focal points in the greatest triple threat tandem the women’s game has ever seen on their way to winning four consecutive championships between 1997 and 2000.
As a member of the Houston Comets, Swoopes has accumulated over 2,000 career points, 500 career rebounds, 300 career assists and 200 career steals. Her extraordinary scoring and defensive ability have made her the first three-time WNBA MVP (2000, 2002, 2005) and the first three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (2000, 2002, 2003). Swoopes’s contributions to women’s basketball as well as her tough play through various injuries have made her one of the best female basketball players of all-time.

Swoopes is the second player in WNBA history to win both the regular season MVP award and the All-Star Game MVP award in the same season. Swoopes is also the first to record a playoff triple-double in WNBA history. Swoopes is averaging almost 15 points per game this season and sports a career average of 16.9 pts., 5.0 rebounds and nearly two and a half steals per game.

Despite being one of the top players and highest-paid athletes in the WNBA, Swoopes has experienced severe financial difficulties in recent years. In October of 2005, Swoopes told the New York Times that she had struggled with debt and was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2004 because she mismanaged her money. Bankruptcy records from June 2004 revealed that Swoopes owed $711,050, including $275,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.

On June 29, 2006, KHOU-TV, in Houston, reported that a storage facility in Lubbock, Texas containing numerous Swoopes memorabilia items and personal affects was scheduled to be sold at an auction. It was also reported that payments for the unit reportedly had stopped quite some time earlier. Television reports in Lubbock indicate among the items available are Swoopes’ Olympic medals, her 1993 Naismith Trophy and Texas Tech basketball uniforms.

Last season, Swoopes averaged 18.6 points, 85 percent on free throws, 4.3 assists and 2.65 steals in 37.1 minutes of playing time per game and although her scoring numbers are slightly down this season, she is arguably the greatest female basketball player of all-time – and certainly one of the best in the WNBA today.

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