Congratulations to Brittney Griner, the out lesbian WNBA star who has been named the leagues' 2014 Defensive Player of the Year. She was the overwhelming selection of the panel after setting a WNBA record for blocked shots.
Here's the full press release from the WNBA:
NEW YORK, Aug. 22, 2014 - Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury has been named the 2014 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung, the WNBA announced today. Griner received 31 votes from a national panel of 38 sportswriters and broadcasters. Sancho Lyttle of the Atlanta Dream finished second with four votes, while the Dream's Angel McCoughtry, the Chicago Sky's Jessica Breland and the Minnesota Lynx's Maya Moore each received one vote.
This marks the first season that Samsung, an official WNBA marketing partner, is serving as the presenting partner of the WNBA's highest individual honors. The WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, WNBA Most Valuable Player, WNBA Most Improved Player, WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, WNBA Rookie of the Year, and the WNBA Players of the Month and Rookie of the Month awards are a part of the WNBA Performance Awards presented by Samsung program.
For Griner, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2013, this is the first Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung honor of her career.
The Houston native and Baylor University product shattered the WNBA single-season mark for blocked shots while helping guide the Mercury to a league-best 29-5 record and the Western Conference's No.1 seed for the playoffs. In the process, she helped Phoenix win 16 straight games, marking the second-longest streak in WNBA history.
Griner played in all 34 games for the Mercury and paced the league in blocks per game (3.79). With 129 total blocks, Griner surpassed the previous single-season mark of 114, set by Margo Dydek in 1998. Griner blocked more shots individually this season than eight other WNBA teams combined. She also posted a WNBA single-game record with 11 blocked shots on June 29 at Tulsa, topping the previous mark of 10, set by Dydek and Lisa Leslie.
The two-time All-Star selection finished the season ranked second in the WNBA in field goal percentage (.578, 219-of-379), 10th in scoring (15.6 ppg), eighth in defensive rebounds (6.1 drpg), and ninth in rebounds (8.0 rpg).
During the Mercury's 16-game winning streak, Griner was named Western Conference Player of the Week presented by Samsung on June 23, following a pair of spectacular performances. For the week, she ranked second in the West in scoring (27.5 ppg) and tied for second in rebounding (11.0 rpg). She also paced the West in field goal percentage (.767, 23-of-30) and blocks (4.0 bpg), while sharing the lead in free throw accuracy (1.000, hitting all nine shots from the charity stripe). She opened the week with a huge effort in a 92-79 win over visiting Minnesota on June 18, pouring in a then career-high 27 points and matching her career high of 18 rebounds. Two days later, Griner reached a new personal best in scoring with 28 points and added six blocks in a 91-80 victory over Tulsa.
In honor of being named the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung, Griner will receive $5,000 and a specially-designed trophy.
Below are the voting results of the 2014 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung and a list of past recipients:
2014 WNBA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR PRESENTED BY SAMSUNG VOTING RESULTS
Points - Player - Team
31 - Brittney Griner - Phoenix Mercury
4 - Sancho Lyttle - Atlanta Dream
1 - Jessica Breland - Chicago Sky
1 - Angel McCoughtry - Atlanta Dream
1 - Maya Moore - Minnesota Lynx