SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart has been announced as the WNBA MVP after a season where she finished second in scoring and led Seattle to the best record in the league.
Stewart was given the award Sunday prior to Seattle opening its best-of-five semifinal playoff series against Phoenix. Stewart finished with 372 total points in the voting, easily outpacing Dallas’ Liz Cambage, who finished second with 231 points. Stewart received 33 of 39 first-place votes.
Washington’s Elena Delle Donne finished third in the voting and Los Angeles’ Candace Parker was fourth.
”I think each award I’ve won for its respective level means a lot, but to be the MVP of the WNBA, the best league in the world, it’s at the top,” Stewart said before Game 1. ”And to do it with this franchise, this team, my teammates I couldn’t have imagined it any other way.”
Stewart was the league’s rookie of the year in 2016, but had her finest professional season this year. She averaged 21.8 points and 8.4 rebounds as Seattle went 26-8 in the regular season. She had 22 games of 20 or more points scoring.
Stewart, who earlier this month was announced as the AP Player of the Year, is the second Seattle player to win MVP. Lauren Jackson was named MVP three times in her career.
Stewart said it’s been a transformative year for her, beginning with the revelation late last year she was sexually abused as a child. She has partnered with RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) to raise awareness and has met with members of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center.
”This year was made possible by going through really hard things. It’s been the story of my life,” Stewart said. ”Any successes along the way was made possible by people lifting me up through struggles and by me having the courage and focus to turn my pain into fuel.”
Her latest cause is voter registration. Stewart had custom shoes created for Game 1 in an effort to draw attention to getting young voters registered for the upcoming November elections.
”This year in particular for me is a story of transformation and introspection,” Stewart said. ”From #MeToo to equality, finding my voice and elevating my game became intertwined in my journey. My hope is as a country we can do the same thing.”
Natasha Howard was given the league’s most improved award and Sue Bird received the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship award also on Sunday before the game.