Basketball players with hyphenated last names had quite the year. TWO hyphenates made the All-WNBA Second Team (Skylar Diggins-Smith and Myisha Hines-Allen) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope just won an NBA championship.
As a fellow hyphenate, I am proud of these players continuing the long tradition of irritating jersey designers who have to fit their full name across the back.
In fact, hyphens and basketball have a glorious history together. Four hyphenates were in the founding class of the WNBA. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the greatest of all time, proudly adopted the hyphen in 1968. And of course, Love & Basketball showed us how a hyphen is a perfect end to any love story. (“I’ll play you.” “For what?” “For your
heart last name to add to my last name”).
So it is only right to compile an All-Hyphenated version of the already confusingly hyphenated All-WNBA First Team.
I will be clear with a few things upfront. First, this list is only hyphenated names, not mere double names or names with additional punctuation. So, Elena Delle Donne and A’ja Wilson, you’re out. We respect your similar struggle of receiving error messages on online forms that your name can only contain upper or lowercase letters, but this list is HYPHENATE ONLY. Second, I am going based on the names used on basketball-reference.com, even though some of these players were not hyphenated throughout their career. Finally, I apologize in advance for talking so many stats because it is not my forte, but unfortunately, none of them have a TikTok.
Okay, here goes.
Skylar Diggins-Smith (Guard-Baller)
Some may argue that Skylar was a Diggins when she won Most Improved Player, two All-Star nods, and was immortalized by controversial rapper Azealia Banks:
Skylar Diggins with the wrist
That bitch ballin’
Bitch ballin’, yeah that bitch ballin’
But she won her second two All-Star nods as a Diggins-Smith, and I submit the following evidence that she still ballin’:
Marie Ferdinand-Harris (Guard-Motivator)
Like Skylar, Marie was not a hyphenate throughout her career, but we are claiming her as part of the community. Ferdinand (later -Harris) was selected 8th overall in the 1st round of the 2001 WNBA Draft by the Utah Starzz (later the San Antonio Silver Stars, San Antonio Stars and now Las Vegas Aces). She was the first Haitian American to play in the WNBA, and the first Haitian American three-time All-Star (2002, 2003 & 2005). If that doesn’t motivate you, maybe her motivational speeches will.
Delisha Milton-Jones (Forward-Veteran)
At 499 games, Delisha’s played the most WNBA games of any player in history except Sue Bird. During that time, she won two championships, was selected to the WNBA All-Star Game three times and became top-10 in the league in total steals. Speaking about her years in the league she’s said:
I’ve come up the hard side of the mountain, I played for 17 years, I can relate to every type of player…. and, I think people take a liking to me. People know I care about them, and I see them as a human first.
She’s now bringing that perspective as a coach at Old Dominium.
And most importantly, she actually appeared in Love & Basketball. Hyphenated legends only.
Sophia Young-Malcolm (Forward-Clutch)
Young-Malcolm was selected fourth in the 2006 WNBA Draft by the San Antonio Silver Stars and stayed in San Antonio for her full career. When she retired, she held franchise records in career rebounds (1,786), field goals (1,633), and steals (468). She’s no stranger to an “All-” Team making the All-WNBA Second Team (2007, 2009, 2012), All-WNBA First Team (2008), WNBA All-Defensive Team (2008, 2012), and WNBA All-Rookie Team (2006) and being selected as an All-Star three times (2006, 2007, 2009). But she’s probably best known for this All-Time buzzer-beater against the Sparks in the Western Conference Finals:
By the way, this was after Delisha Milton-Jones appeared to have the game locked up, hitting a lay-up with 1.3 seconds left. Again, hyphenated legends only.
Tammy Sutton-Brown (Center-Defier of Expectations)
Sutton-Brown was a steal as a second-round draft pick for the Charlotte Sting and per Eric Nemchock, was the best 18th pick in WNBA history. She played 6 years in Charlotte and 6 years in Indiana, was a two-time All-Star, and retired after winning her first and only WNBA championship in 2012.
Sutton-Brown is also apparently a hyphenated-legend in Turkey. She’s a 5-time Turkish National League champion, a 3-time Turkish Cup winner, and a 2-time Turkish President Cup winner. Yalnızca tireli göstergeler.
Cynthia Cooper-Dyke (Coach-GOAT)
I cannot tell you how disappointed I am to confirm that although Cynthia married Dyke in 2001 she did not adopt the hyphen on her jersey in her victory tour year in 2003. But, on the upside, it does mean that the team has an absolute legend of a coach. GOAT is thrown around a lot these days, but Cooper-Dyke is the original.
Entering the league in its inaugural year at 34, she was the league’s first (and second) MVP and the league’s first (and second, and third, and fourth) Finals MVP, after leading the legendary Houston Comets Team to 4 straight championships (Here’s a great podcast history on the Comets).
I’m normally not a you-have-to-have-titles-to-demonstrate-you’re-an-elite-player person but ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS. Of course, she doesn’t need a list of titles to impress you, here’s a very extensive statistical analysis of why she’s the best to play the game.
*UPDATED*: As @Kurtis very kindly pointed out, Taj McWilliams-Franklin has a rightful spot on this All-Hyphenated Team. I simply mistakenly left her off my list. I do not have the heart to demote any member of the current team, so I’m giving a special shootout to this hyphenated legend here: Taj is a six-time WNBA all-star, two-time WNBA champion, and played professionally for over 20 years. She’s also #10 on the list for career blocks, routinely the most-fun stat. Here’s a great article from Cat Ariail at Swish Appeal about why you (read:me) should know about McWilliams-Franklin’s career as the ultimate underdog to Champion story.
The Originals: Four active hyphenates played in the WNBA’s inaugural season.
- Susie Hopson-Shelton (Forward, Charlotte Sting)
- Judy Mosley-McAfee (Forward, Sacramento Monarchs)
- Jasmina Perazic-Gipe (Forward, New York Liberty)
- Cassandra Crumpton-Moorer (Guard, New York Liberty)
Current Players: Since then, hyphen use has blossomed, with 7 active hyphenates in the WNBA, including Diggins-Smith.
- Karima Christmas-Kelly (Forward, last on Minnesota Lynx; 2012 WNBA Champion)
- Myisha Hines-Allen (Forward, Washington Mystics; 2020 All-WNBA Second Team)
- Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Forward, Connecticut Sun; 2018 WNBA Champion)
- Avery Warley-Talbert (Center, last on Las Vegas Aces)
- Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (Guard, Los Angeles Sparks)
- Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (Guard, Phoenix Mercury; 2019 WNBA Champion)
Imani McGee-Stafford (Center-Attorney): Part of Imani’s hyphen comes from her mom, Pamela McGee, a women’s basketball legend. (Her brother is noted NBA weirdo and champion JaVale McGee.) Imani is also just a very cool human: she is a poet, advocate for mental health, and is currently in law school after taking a sabbatical from the WNBA.
Edwige Lawson-Wade (Guard-Head Coach?) In addition to playing 6 years in the WNBA, Edwige played most of her career overseas, winning three French championships, two Russian championships, three Euroleague titles and a European Championship. Right now, she is the Director of Operations at BLMA in Montpelier, France (#WNBAOverseas). Part of Edwige’s hyphen comes from her husband, Chicago Sky Coach James Wade, and it’s been suggested that she should be considered to head coach in the WNBA too.
So are you ready? We’ll play you for your last name.
All stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com unless otherwise stated.
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Image Source: AP Images