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Cappie Pondexter, Liberty Greats On Ballots

Forget about Jeter and Reyes, ’Melo and Amare, Revis and Brodeur for just a moment. You might be surprised at who might be New York’s best pound-for-pound athlete.

Small in stature but larger than life while in action, Cappie Pondexter ranks fourth in the WNBA in scoring and is on her way to starting for the East squad in this month’s All-Star Game. Her on-court tenacity and scrappy style have made her one of the most popular players in the league, and certainly one of the most talented.

But Pondexter appears on two other fan ballots that, should she win, might help her go down in the annals of the region’s best and most beloved stars.

Pondexter has been nominated for a 2011 ESPY Award as the Best WNBA Player. Her competition for the prize includes Indiana’s Tamika Catchings, Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi and Seattle’s Lauren Jackson.

Regardless if Pondexter wins or not, it’s refreshing that the next wave of basketball stars gets its due. For a while, if you didn’t graduate from Connecticut or Tennessee, ESPN wouldn’t showcase you on SportsCenter, let alone nominate you for an ESPY. Though two of the four nominees are from the aforementioned schools, others players like Pondexter are getting recognition. Pondexter is in the final four particularly for leading New York to 10 straight wins last season en route to the WNBA conference finals.

Perhaps a bigger nomination for Pondexter is her bid for a spot on the WNBA’s Top 15 of all time. To celebrate the league’s 15th Anniversary, fans are asked to select the top 15 players from a list of 30. Pondexter is one of four current or former Liberty players nominated for the honor.

In just five years in the league (the past season and a half with the Liberty), Pondexter is averaging 19.7 points and 4.3 assists in her career. In addition to leading New York to the playoffs last season, she has won two WNBA titles with Phoenix and was named Finals MVP in 2007. She also won a gold medal with the United States women’s basketball team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Joining Pondexter on the Top 15 WNBA Players of All Time ballot are former Liberty standouts Teresa Weatherspoon, Becky Hammon and Taj McWilliams-Franklin.

Weatherspoon, perhaps the most beloved Liberty player ever, averaged 5 points and 5.3 assists over her 8-year career. McWilliams-Franklin is in her 12th year and currently playing for Minnesota. She is averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds in her career. Hammon, now with the Silver Stars, has a career average of 13 points over 12 years.

Internet voting for the WNBA’s Top 15 takes place at Fans can vote for Pondexter and the other ESPY categories on ESPN’s website.

And in case you’re wondering, here is how I voted for the WNBA 15. Believe me, it was tough: Hammon, McWilliams-Franklin, Pondexter, Weatherspoon, Swin Cash, Cynthia Cooper, Yolanda Griffith, Chamique Holdsclaw, Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker, Katie Smith, Dawn Staley, Sheryl Swoopes, Diana Taurasi and Tina Thompson.

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