NEW YORK (AP) — Seattle’s Sue Bird will start in the WNBA All-Star Game in front of her home crowd after she was selected Tuesday as a starter.
Bird will be making her 10th All-Star appearance, tying her with Tamika Catchings, who retired last year, for most in WNBA history.
“For many reasons, I’m super excited to have been voted in as a starter,” Bird said. “Of course because the game is being held in Seattle and I’ll get to represent my team and city, but also the fans, the other players in the league and the media were the ones that chose. It’s an incredible honor and I can’t wait to put on a good show in Key Arena.”
She’ll be joined on the Western Conference team by Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi, Minnesota’s Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles, and Los Angeles’ Candace Parker. Parker was tied with teammate Nneka Ogwumike in votes by players and select media members but received more fan votes to earn the starting position.
Fans cast 604,680 votes, more than double the number in 2015 (280,670). There was no All-Star Game last year because of the Olympics.
Moore was the leading vote-getter among fans (32,866). She was followed by Washington’s Elena Delle Donne (31,414), who headlines the Eastern Conference team. Delle Donne is joined by Tina Charles of New York, Jonquel Jones and Jasmine Thomas of Connecticut, and Tiffany Hayes of Atlanta. Jones, Thomas and Hayes are all first-time All-Stars.
“It has not been a straight path to get here,” said Thomas, who is in her seventh year in the league. “Three teams and seven seasons later, it definitely feels good. I’m super excited and happy to be with my teammate. I’m definitely excited and it means a lot. For the people who voted for me, the media, everybody to believe in me that much, it wouldn’t be possible without being on a team like I am. I feel like I’m representing Connecticut there.”
The game is July 22 in Seattle. For the first time, fans accounted for 50 percent of the vote to determine the starters, while players and a media panel accounted for 25 percent each. Tiffany Mitchell of Indiana was second in the fan voting but 10th in the media voting and 14th in player voting, so she wasn’t named a starter unlike in previous years.
“The fans have always had a big hand in selecting who our All-Stars are,” WNBA President Lisa Borders said. “We included the media and the peers. ... We rounded it out a little bit and had more input. There’s more perspective on what brings a great player to the table.”
The All-Star reserves, who are chosen by the league’s coaches, will be announced July 18.
The exhibition contest will be coached by New York’s Bill Laimbeer and Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve. Their teams had the best conference records last year.
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