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THE ANN MEYERS DRYSDALE COLLECTION

Ann Meyers Drysdale, a pioneer in the world of basketball, was born in San Diego on March 26, 1955. An outstanding player at 5’ 9” tall, she continues to leave her mark on the sport more than 35 years after she last played competitively. Currently a vice president for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, she also serves as a color analyst for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, a position she’s held since 2012.

When it came to hoops, Meyers Drysdale was a natural. The sixth of 11 children born to Patricia and Bob Meyers, Ann attended Sonora High School in La Habra, California, and was not only an All-American but the first high school player ever to be named to the U.S. Women’s National Basketball Team (1974). She was a multi-talented high school athlete who earned 13 MVP awards across seven different sports including softball, badminton, field hockey, tennis and, of course, basketball. She was the first female athlete ever to earn a four-year scholarship to UCLA and she finished her collegiate career as the first four-time All-American in her sport.

During her time as a Bruin, Meyers Drysdale amassed a myriad of milestones and records. Meyers Drysdale led UCLA in rebounding, assists, steals and blocked shots for four straight years and graduated holding 12 of 13 school records. For her college career, she averaged 17.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and remains UCLA’s career leader in assists (544, 5.6 assists per game) and steals (403, 4.2.steals per game). As a senior, on Feb. 18, 1978, against Stephen F. Austin State University, she became the only player in school history to record a quadruple-double by tallying 20 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals. Five weeks later, on March 25, 1978, Meyers-Drysdale led her Bruins to a national championship as UCLA beat Maryland, 90-74, at Pauley Pavilion. Not surprisingly, she was named the winner of the Honda Sports Award as the outstanding women’s college basketball player as well as the recipient of the Broderick Cup, which goes to the top female athlete in collegiate athletics.

It was during her tenure at UCLA when Meyers Drysdale was named to the 1976 U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team, which she helped earn the silver medal in Montreal after averaging 10 points and five assists per outing. She was also a member of the U.S. Women’s Team that earned a gold medal at the 1979 FIBA World Championships.

After graduating from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Meyers Drysdale became the first basketball player to be drafted by the Women’s Pro Basketball League (WBL). The No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Angels, she sat out the first season but came back to play for the New Jersey Gems in Season 2 and earned co-MVP honors. Prior to competing in the WBL, Meyers Drysdale decided it was time to see just how far her talent and determination could take her. She signed a $50,000 contract with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and found herself at a three-day tryout to make the team competing against men who stood a head taller than her. As she stepped onto the court at Indiana’s Hinkle Fieldhouse during the first day of tryouts, Sept. 5, 1979, she believed she had a real shot at becoming the first woman to make it into the NBA.

“I grew up playing against boys my whole life, so this was nothing new for me,” Meyers Drysdale said.

As the three days of tryouts played out, five or six guys were cut, but Meyers Drysdale was still in the mix. Then Slick Leonard, head coach of the Pacers, called her into his office. “I cut her just like any other player,” Leonard said at the time. “I felt bad when we started the cut down. I felt bad about it. She really did do a great job. I was proud of her.”

She thanked Leonard and accepted her fate. “I was involved in a lot of firsts in my life,” Meyers Drysdale said. Making an NBA team, however, didn’t turn out to be one of them.

Also in 1979, she entered into the inaugural “Women’s Superstars” competition on ABC and finished fourth. She went on to win the next three consecutive years. It was during this time that she met her future husband, former Los Angeles Dodgers pitching great Don Drysdale, who was serving as a color commentator for ABC. They were married in 1986 and had three children (DJ, Darren and Drew) before the Baseball Hall of Famer died suddenly of a heart attack on July 3, 1993, at the age of 56.

In 1988, she became the first woman ever inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame and two years later the Bruins retired her jersey number 15. In 1993, just two months before Drysdale’s untimely demise, Meyers Drysdale was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Ann Meyers 1

Ann Meyers 2

ANN MEYERS’ 1979 INDIANA PACERS TRYOUT WORN JERSEY – ONLY WOMAN EVER GRANTED TRYOUT IN NBA HISTORY! (MEYERS COLLECTION) $21,659

ANN MEYERS’ MAY 10, 1993 NAISMITH BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME INDUCTION PLAQUE (MEYERS COLLECTION) $4,670

 

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