Best Miami Sol Player Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2002 - Debbie Black
Readers' Choice: Key West
Debbie Black is not only the shortest player in the WNBA at 5-foot-3 but she also has suffered ten broken noses during her 14-year professional basketball career. Her fans at AmericanAirlines Arena sit together in a black-and-blue section, where they tally the number of times she hits the floor in a game. A huge banner sports one Band Aid-style cross for each crash; her record is 16, in the 2001 opening game against rival New York Liberty. She usually gets possession of the ball and comes up grinning, though sometimes stitches are required. Her dives are not in vain. Black, or "The Pest," as she's known to many fans, led the league last year for steals and was named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. Her take on her lack of height? It's an advantage. "I'm the closest player to the floor," she says. Not that she's all sweetness and light. When Liberty guard Teresa Weatherspoon missed a shot just before the half-time buzzer on July 22 and shoved Black to the ground in frustration, our homegirl got up, turned around, and gave chase. Black didn't hit T-Spoon, but seven technical fouls split between the two teams later, the Sol guard had proven she's no pushover. Unlike the Heat, who occupy the AmericanAirlines Arena the rest of the year, the Black-led Sol made the playoffs in 2001, its second year in the league. Not bad for a team that was predicted to come in last during its freshman year; it ended that season with a double-overtime win and the best record of four expansion teams. Under Black's leadership last year, it became the first 2000 expansion team to make the playoffs.