Sheryl Denise Swoopes was born March 25, 1971 was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created in 1996 She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and is a three-time WNBA MVP. Frequently referred to as the “female Michael Jordan,” Swoopes is famous for both her offensive and defensive skills. In 2005, she averaged 18.6 points, 85% free throws, 4.3 assists, 2.65 steals and 37.1 minutes playing time per game. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history.
Swoopes was recruited for the Houston Comets of the WNBA during the 1997 inaugural season. She returned only six weeks after giving birth to her son to play the last third of the WNBA inaugural season and lead the Comets in the 1997 WNBA Championship. As a member of the Houston Comets, she 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 is a four-time WNBA champion (1997–2000).
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. The first player to accomplish this was Lisa Leslie. Swoopes is also the first player in WNBA history to record a playoff triple-double.
Swoopes gained national prominence when she won the gold medal with the USA Basketball Women’s National Team (WNT) at the 1996 Olympic Games and became a focal point of the fledgling WNBA. The 1996 Olympic win over Brazil (117–87) is considered by some to be the “best woman’s basketball game they’d ever seen.” She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist (1996, 2000, 2004).
Swoopes is the first women’s basketball player to have a Nike shoe named after her: the “Air Swoopes”.
On March 3, 2008 Swoopes signed with the Seattle Storm ending her eleven year career with the Houston Comets. She was waived by the Storm on February 3, 2009.
Two days after her fortieth birthday, sources for the Associated Press claimed that Swoopes was preparing to return to the WNBA in anticipation of an official signing announcement from the Tulsa Shock that was made on 28 March 2011. At the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game, she was announced as one of the Top 15 players in the fifteen year history of the WNBA.
On August 26, 2011, the 40-year-old Swoopes hit a buzzer-beating shot to edge the Los Angeles Sparks 77-75 and end the Shock’s WNBA-record 20-game losing streak.