WNBA celebrates 25 years with help of women who paved the way

Ann Meyers Drysdale
Posted at 4:45 AM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 09:40:45-04

Ann Meyers Drysdale knows basketball.

As the front office executive for the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury, she spent years leading the way for other women to play basketball at the highest level of the game.

“People used to ask me two years and three years in, 'where do you think this league is going to be?' And I said, 'ask me in 25 years!' Here we are 25 years later, and absolutely this league is strong.”

The WNBA has come a long way in that time thanks in part to players like Meyers Drysdale.

Ann Meyers Drysdale, Cappie Pondexter
Phoenix Mercury general manager Ann Meyers Drysdale, left, talks with forward Cappie Pondexter as they wait for the start of practice for the WNBA Finals in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009. The Indiana Fever lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is scheduled for Wednesday. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

“Whether it was a Cheryl Miller, who was the first coach here, or whether it was a Teresa Edwards or Nancy Lieberman who plays jazz here, I just can rattle off a lot of players that played in the 70s and 80s. And we were the title-nine babies," she told ABC15.

The Arizona Sports Hall of Fame inductee is at the top of many distinguished lists of basketball players.

She is the first woman to land a four-year scholarship at UCLA. She is also the first player, male or female, named to the All-American team in four consecutive seasons.

She is also the first female to ever sign a contract with an NBA team.

“It’s different than the NBA game. There’s no question about that. But you know, the Mercury do a great job as far as presenting the product, which are the great skills that these young women have.”

Meyers Drysdale remains humble about her long list of accomplishments, telling ABC15 that getting the WNBA where it is today is all about team chemistry and fans who rally year after year.

“To see what the WNBA is today, and to see the great players that are still playing well into their late 30s and maybe even early 40s, I think is a tribute to the passion for the game and the legacy."

Meyers Drysdale will be inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 1. The ceremony will happen at The Phoenician.