Tuesday, June 4 was just another career day for one of the greatest players in the history of the WNBA.
New York Liberty center Tina Charles posted 21 points, albeit in a losing effort, against the Los Angeles Sparks and in doing so became the Liberty’s all-time leading scorer. Her new career total of 3,248 points is impressive enough on its own but put in the context of Charles’ total body of work, it’s just another of her many accolades.
Tina Charles’ Rich Legacy
The 30-year-old UConn product is now in her 10th WNBA season and the past decade has been filled with stellar moments. Her proficiency in the game is about more than her 6’4″, 192-pound frame or her career shooting percentage of 42.5. Listing out her professional accomplishments is a feat all its own.
The 2012 MVP is quickly approaching another career record, as she is now just 15 double-doubles short of tying Lisa Leslie’s career mark of 157. Charles, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, has the highest rebounds per game average in the history of the league. As would be expected, she is the Liberty’s all-time rebound leader. She was the first WNBA player to record three games in which she scored 20 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. Charles is the fastest in the history of the WNBA to reach 400, 500, 600 and 700 career rebounds.
Charles won the Rookie of the Year award in 2010 unanimously due to setting rookie records for rebounds in a game and double-doubles in a season. She then outdid herself in her second season, setting a record in 2011 for double-doubles in a single season with 23. In 2016, she became just the third player in league history to lead the league in both rebounding and scoring in the same season. Furthermore, in 2016 she was named the league’s player of the month four consecutive times. That’s another league record.
Consistency and Durability
What’s perhaps most impressive is that Charles hasn’t missed significant time due to injuries since the end of the 2013 season, when she was held out of New York’s final five games. She’s never had a season in which she averaged below 15.5 points or seven rebounds per game. Her poorest shooting percentage for a season during her career is 40 percent in 2013 and she hasn’t yet had a full season in which she averaged more than three turnovers per game. Since drafting Charles, New York has gone 155-153, recorded five winning seasons and made the playoffs six times.
Off the Court Impact
While Charles has done much to impress fans on the court, she may have a bigger impact when she isn’t playing in a WNBA game. Her own charitable foundation, Hopey’s Heart Foundation, has worked to place nearly 300 automated external defibrillators where they are needed worldwide. She has also used her own money to underwrite the construction of a school in Mali, purchased shoes for children at a school in Jamaica and funded scholarships for girls in Africa.
That Charles is one of the greatest players ever to step on a WNBA court is undisputed, and after Tuesday it’s a certainty that she’s the greatest to ever wear a New York Liberty uniform. On top of that, she might be one of the greatest ambassadors for the league off the court as well.