11. Most Valuable Player
This has been an award-winning year for Los Angeles Sparks forward and center Candace Parker. During her first all-star game, Parker was named Most Valuable Player after helping the West beat the East, 102-98, with a record-setting 23 points and 11 rebounds. Across the pond, she helped the Russian basketball team UMMC Ekaterinburg win its first EuroLeague Women’s Championship and took home more MVP honors. The Women’s Sports Foundation named her Sportswoman of the Year in team sports, and she also won the 2013 ESPY Award for Best WNBA Player. As the Sparks’ No. 1 draft pick in 2008, she broke Cynthia Cooper-Dyke’s record for most points by a rookie in a debut by scoring 34 points against the Phoenix Mercury. Not surprisingly, the WNBA named her Rookie of the Year and MVP. And who can forget her history-making dunks as a 6-foot-4 freshman at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, helping the Volunteers win back-to-back conference titles while playing with a dislocated shoulder? Now the question is, will this two-time Olympic gold medalist pass her family’s strong b-ball genes to her 4-year-old daughter?
WINNING WAYS: Candace Parker leads the Los Angeles Sparks to a 102-69 win over the Seattle Storm in May. (CandaceParker.com)