Best Teams Ever bracket: WNBA edition, championship round
Welcome to the Best Team Ever bracket series, where the greatest of all time have their most dominant seasons stacked up against each other until we ultimately crown a champion in each sport. The tournament will be decided by fan vote, so be sure to submit yours below! Check out the first round of voting here, the second round of voting here and the Final Four voting here. The championship round poll will close at noon ET on Tuesday.
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The 2000 Houston Comets are widely regarded as the best team in WNBA history. It was the squad that capped four championships in four years with three Naismith Hall of Fame inductees. You can’t go wrong when Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson are in the starting lineup together.
The bracket’s No. 1 seed cruised into the second round with 87 percent of the vote and into the Final Four with 74 percent. The closest contest was still a major victory — a 69 percent victory over the 2014 Phoenix Mercury.
The 2001 Los Angeles Sparks were a 7-seed in the bracket, the last to win titles back-to-back in the WNBA (they won in 2002). Lisa Leslie won her first of three MVPs and the squad went through the bracket with wins of 67 percent, 59 percent and finally 56 percent in an upset over the 2017 Minnesota Lynx dynasty. They had an easy path after the 2019 Washington Mystics, the most efficient offense in league history, suffered an upset in the first round to the 1999 Comets.
2000 Houston Comets vs. 2001 Los Angeles Sparks
No. 1 Houston Comets (27-5)
OffRtg: 109.4 | DefRtg: 94.0 | Net: 18.4
3 Naismith Hall of Famers
Rank second in points per possession
Starting 5: Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper, Tina Thompson, Janeth Arcain, Tiffani Johnson
The 2000 Comets, who cemented their dynasty status with a fourth title in four years, moved on easily with 74 percent of the vote against the 2016 Los Angeles Sparks. They won the first round with 87 percent of the vote.
Sheryl Swoopes (20.7 PPG, 50.6 FG percentage) was named MVP and Defensive POY in 2000 while 37-year-old Cynthia Cooper earned Finals MVP for a fourth time and the ESPY for best WNBA player. Tina Thompson (16.9 PPG, 41.7 3FT percentage) completed the first — and continuously most celebrated — big three in WNBA history.
The team scored 1.091 points per possession, which was the most efficient offense in WNBA history until the 2019 Washington Mystics. Their plus-12.8 point differential is best in league history and their nine 20-point wins rank second, again behind the ’19 Mystics.
No. 7 Los Angeles Sparks (28-4)
OffRtg: 106.7 | DefRtg: 94.7 | Net: 12.0
Three-time MVP Lisa Leslie
Last team to win back-to-back championships
Starting 5: Lisa Leslie, Tamecka Dixon, Mwadi Mabika, DeLisha Milton-Jones, Ukari Figgs
The 2001 Sparks advanced past the 1999 Houston Comets with 59 percent of the vote. The ’99 Comets beat opponents by an average 9.3 points, eighth all-time, but statistically weren’t as good as their 1998 and 2000 teams.
The Sparks’ Lisa Leslie won her first of three MVPs (2004, ’06) in 2001, averaging 19.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 blocks. The Sparks lost four regular-season games, three of which came in a streak in June and included two four-point losses. In the penultimate game, the margin was two. They dropped only one game in the playoffs, which were a best-of-three series then.
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