When Margo Dydek was drafted first overall by the Utah Stazz in the 1998 WNBA Draft, I was living in Salt Lake City. As a result, I spent the next four summers rooting for her and watching her game develop.
At 7’1″, she was monster in the paint, sometimes a foot taller than her opponents. Since the WNBA allowed for zone defenses, she owned the paint, forcing her opponents to depend on their perimeter shooting well before anyone dared to drive on her inside.
Still, if given the choice, she loved to shoot the ball, usually stepping out to the three point line and nailing it.
She was loved in Salt Lake City. She was a media darling and a role model for her fans.
The Utah Starzz never amounted to much in the WNBA. Their best season was 2002. They finished 3rd in the West but battled to the Conference Final before losing to Los Angeles.
The Starzz were relocated to San Antonio the following year, and Dydek continued on until 2008, retiring as a Los Angeles Spark. When everything was said and done, Dydek led the WNBA in blocks and blocks/game in 8+ seasons, led the league in defensive rebounds in 2001 and owns the record for most blocks in a career (877 blocks in 323 games, or 2.71 a game).
On May 11th, pregnant with her third child, Dydek suffered a heart attack and was placed in a medically induced coma. She never regained consciousness, passing away yesterday. Her child also died.
Here are some links if you’d like to learn more about her: