The G.O.A.T. — The Greatest of All-Time. The saying is thrown around quite often in sports, whether the player being discussed deserves it or not.
If there was ever a player in Kansas basketball history that deserved the almighty title of the best to ever do it, Lynette Woodard earned it in her four years at Kansas from 1978-1981.
In each of those four years Woodard was an All-American, a feat that very few achieve.
As the first woman to have her jersey retired at Kansas and the first woman to be inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, Woodard accumulated many accolades in her time at Kansas.
The obvious players that come to mind when it comes to the best players to put on crimson and blue are the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning. At 26.2 points per game during her time at Kansas, only Chamberlain averaged more points per game in his career. It goes Wilt, then Woodard.
The 6-foot point guard finished her time at Kansas with the most points in the history of women’s college basketball, nearly eclipsing 3,700 points.
Although her jersey hangs among the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse currently and her stats remain impressive, part of what makes Woodard an all-time great is the way she has changed and affected the game off the court. Her relentless mentality and ability to push doubters to the side helped her revolutionize women’s basketball.
Woodard was the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, a feat that was discussed and analyzed heavily at the time. However, her ball handling ability helped her fit the Globetrotter title.
Woodard told People.com that when she first began playing for the Globetrotters she was worried about how she would perform against men. She was also a fan of track: not just the sport, but also the metaphors.
“I love the quarter mile because it says so much about life,” Woodard told People.com. “Everybody’s got what it takes until they come around the curve. Then there’s nothing left. Whoever’s going to win has to do it on guts.”
For the majority of her career there was no such thing as professional women’s basketball. The Allen Fieldhouse floor and the Globetrotters were as close as she got. Finally, when her career was almost over, she was able to play in the WNBA.
Woodard’s retired number remains as one of only three women’s basketball jerseys to be retired at Kansas.
— Edited by Frank Weirich