SAN ANTONIO – The WNBA will celebrate its 15th anniversary today by honoring the 15 best players in history during halftime of the All-Star game.
The game itself, meanwhile, will look distinctly like the WNBA’s future.
Minnesota Lynx rookie Maya Moore headlines a record group of 10 first-time All-Stars playing in the midseason showcase, with the newcomers filling up nearly half the roster spots for what’s traditionally been a game of more familiar faces.
Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings will be there again. So will the Seattle Storm’s Sue Bird. Both are making their seventh All-Star appearances, but gone among the former mainstays is Los Angeles Sparks forward Tina Thompson, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer and a nine-time All-Star.
Moore, who’s averaging 14.2 points and 4.8 rebounds for the West-leading Lynx, tops a rookie All-Star group that includes San Antonio’s Danielle Adams, Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot and Tulsa’s Liz Cambage. Cambage took the spot of Los Angeles Sparks center Candace Parker, whom fans voted in as a starter but can’t play because of a knee injury.
Parker would’ve also been a first-time All-Star – even though she was the No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft and is among the league’s most transformative players. The WNBA didn’t have an All-Star game in 2008 – when Parker was the league’s MVP and Rookie of the Year – and she missed the next year’s game after giving birth.
Moore will start for the West alongside Bird, Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi, Seattle forward Swin Cash and Minnesota forward Rebekkah Brunson. Brunson – who finished third in fan voting among West forwards, just ahead of Thompson – will start in place of the injured Parker.
Starting for the East will be Catchings, Connecticut center Tina Charles, Indiana guard Katie Douglas, New York guard Cappie Pondexter and Atlanta forward Angel McCoughtry. Charles and McCoughtry are also among the first-time All-Stars.
The West has won seven of the nine midseason contests, including two years ago in the highest-scoring All-Star game, 130-118.