Remembering Margo Dydek: The Tallest Female Basketball Player in History
In the realm of professional basketball, one name that echoes with towering stature is Małgorzata Teresa Dydek-Twigg, better known as Margo Dydek. Born on April 28, 1974, this Polish basketball sensation stood an astounding 7 feet 2 inches tall, earning her the title of the tallest professional female basketball player during her illustrious career.
Margo’s journey to stardom took an early turn when she embarked on her first trip to the United States in May 1998, participating in the WNBA pre-draft camp. The spotlight shone brightly on her when she became the 1st overall pick in the 1998 WNBA Draft, selected by the Utah Starzz.
A pivotal moment in her career unfolded on April 16, 2005, during the 2005 WNBA Draft, when the San Antonio Silver Stars orchestrated a trade, sending Dydek to the Connecticut Sun in exchange for the Sun’s first-round draft pick, Katie Feenstra from Liberty University.
Dydek etched her name in the WNBA record books, holding the record for the most career blocks with an impressive 877 blocks across 323 games. Notably, she dominated the league in blocks, leading nine times (1998-2003, 2005-07) and in blocks per game eight times (1998-2003, 2006-07). Her defensive prowess was evident as she secured the most defensive rebounds (214) in 2001.
Following a hiatus from basketball due to pregnancy, Dydek made a triumphant return, signing with the Los Angeles Sparks on August 27, 2008. Her resilience and dedication were admirable, and she gave birth to her son in April 2008.
Dydek’s international journey included playing for Olimpia Poznan from 1992 to 1994 and Valenciennes Ochies in France from 1994 to 1996. Her sojourn continued in Spain with Pool Getafe from 1996 to 1998, and she later returned to Poland, joining Foto Porta Gdynia starting with the 1998-99 season. Through sponsorship changes, the club transitioned names to Polpharma and Lotos.
The 1999-2000 season saw Dydek’s stellar performance, averaging 18.5 points and 10.7 rebounds for Gdynia in FIBA Euroleague play. Her contributions were duly recognized as she earned the title of the Most Valuable Player of the Polish League Finals. La Gazzetta dello Sport, the renowned Italian sports magazine, named her the best female basketball player in Europe in 1999.
Margo Dydek’s impact extended beyond the court, as she was honored as Poland’s Sportswoman of the Year. Her enduring commitment to the Polish National Team played a pivotal role in winning the EuroBasket Women 1999. Gdynia reached the finals of the FIBA Euroleague in 2002 and 2004 under Dydek’s leadership.
Tragically, on May 19, 2011, Margo Dydek suffered a heart attack, leading to an 8-day medically induced coma in a Brisbane hospital. At the time, she was serving as a coach for the Northside Wizards in the Queensland Basketball League. Margo, who was expecting her third child, passed away on Friday, May 27, 2011, at the age of 37, a week after the heart attack. Her baby also did not survive. May they both rest in peace, and may Margo Dydek’s legacy continue to inspire generations in the world of basketball.
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