Monday, September 14, 2009

5 Questions About Lisa Leslie and the WNBA

This past Friday was Lisa Leslie's final regular-season home game for the Los Angeles Sparks. Hubby and I caught the game with some sweet seats and truly enjoyed watching this piece of Los Angeles sports history.

Earlier that day, I was walking around in an old Lakers t-shirt because I realized that I didn't own a Sparks shirt. Some fan I am. A colleague asked me why a Lakers shirt when the Dodgers were making a post-season run and the NFL season was upon us. When I replied it was to attend the game that evening since the colors matched he told me, "I would have given you grief if you had a Sparks shirt!"

What? Grief? Why?

Here was a normally "cool" person that was going to razz me for being a fan of the WNBA?

Ugliness aside, as I mentioned, hubby and I had a blast.

We stopped in at ESPN Zone first for dinner (food was so-so but the place was AWESOME). When we headed in to the game my lack of Sparks shirt was cured immediately as they handed out the Lisa Leslie Pass The Ball To The Girl shirts. We also got a bracelet and mini-poster with the same phrase.

The game was sold out and the opening ceremony for Lisa was amazing. Her friends, family, and teammates all presented her with mementos and other gifts. About 75% of the way through the presentation, Lisa asks everyone if they recalled that there was still a game to play.

It was one of those presentations that makes Los Angeles sports fans go nuts. The USC Marching Band was in the stands playing at the right moments and Magic Johnson came out to honor Lisa.

Oh yeah, then there was the game. Oh my - if you have never been to a WNBA game in person then you are really missing out. I realize how lucky I am to have witnessed Candace Parker flip the ball behind her back to Lisa Leslie for a basket.

The Minnesota Lynx could not stop the Sparks on that night (although Candice Wiggins is definitely the real deal). Sparks took the game 90-61. In true Los Angeles sports fashion that Randy Newman tune played afterward as the crowd was showered with streamers.

So here are my five questions for you:

1. Have you ever been to a WNBA game or even watched one on television?

2. Did you know that Lisa Leslie is one of the greatest basketball players of all time?

From her website:

While at Morningside High School in Inglewood, CA, she led the team to two state championships. In college at the University of Southern California, she was the all time Pac-10 leader in points, rebounds, and blocked shots. After college, Leslie launched her modeling career, signing with the prestigious Wilhelmina Agency in 1996.

She was a member of the gold-winning U.S. Olympic teams in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. In 2001, Leslie was the first WNBA player to win the regular season MVP, the All-Star Game MVP and the playoff MVP in the same season. That year, she also led the Los Angeles Sparks to their first WNBA victory. In 2002, she was the WNBA all-time leading scorer and was named MVP of the WNBA Championship and All-Star Game. Leslie is the first woman to slam-dunk in a professional game and the first team sport athlete to win four consecutive Olympic Gold Medals.

In 2002, Lisa Leslie helped the Sparks win their second straight world championship, winning the WNBA MVP Award that year and again in 2006. She became a commentator for ESPN in 2004, covering the NCAA Women’s Tournament.

3. Did you catch that about Magic Johnson? Yeah, he wasn't at the Hall Of Fame festivities for that other basketball legend.

4. Did you realize that WNBA games are a great family activity?

I was amazed at how much more relaxed and happy the crowd was at a Sparks game compared to other sporting events. There were groups of teen boys and girls all there to witness history and hang out with their friends. I could see the looks of inspiration in the young women's faces next to me as Lisa spoke. There were fathers with their daughters, families of four, mothers with their sons, and couples from all walks of life taking in all in. There was a definite, "we are all a big family" vibe.

5. What is stopping you from watching the WNBA? Are you afraid of what people might think?


Mike said...

Ok, 5 answers...

1) Seen one on TV. In fairness, I don't get out to many live games; I'm not in a major team sports area. The closest are the Charlotte Bobcats (basketball), the Carolina Panthers (football), and the Carolina Hurricanes (hockey), all about 2 hours' distant.

2) Yep, although I tend to think mainly in terms of her Olympic career. As Darth Vader once said, "Impressive... very impresive."

3) Lots of big-namers didn't show for MJ. They all say nice things about each other, but I don't think the competitive aspect ever dies for some of the pros.

4) No offense, but ALL sports fans say that about their favorite sport. I don't disagree with you; I'm just pointing out the obvious.

5) To be honest, I don't watch the WNBA for the same reason I don't watch the NBA... I'm just not a huge basketball fan. I watch college ball once it gets to March Madness, and that's about it.

So how'd I do? If I don't pass, that's ok; just please don't send another progress report to my parents!

Apryl DeLancey said...

Well...I can't honestly say that basketball is my favorite sport. I just noticed a greater proportion of children and families than other sporting events. I have been to Redskins, Buccaneers, Lightning, Rays, Dodgers, 49ers, Rams, Raiders, Lakers, Magic, Clippers, Kings, and various other sporting events and don't remember seeing so many except for when I was a kid and saw the Harlem Globetrotters here in Los Angeles. Maybe I have just been to too many night Dodgers games lately?

If you pinned me down and asked me what my favorite sport was it would be a really, really hard choice. I love all sports.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Oh, and thanks for stopping by to answer!

Vince Spence said...

1. No
2. Yes
3. Yes
4. Not sure
5. I find WNBA basketball pretty two-dimensional - layups and three-pointers.

Apryl. I do not care for women basketball at any level. I can seriously get behind ladies baseball, softball, soccer, golf, swimming, lacrosse, volley ball and most others.

That being said. I can watch Connecticut and Tennessee play women's basketball, because they are that good and play as a team. That gets lost in the pro game.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Sometimes, people just flat out don't like a sport. I totally get that.

There are actually a few sports I can't handle watching myself. Those would be NASCAR, arena football, and anything equestrian. Just about anything else works for me: lawn bowling, NFL, tennis, croquet, surfing, golf, whatever!

Lindsay said...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, so I was thrilled to see this post.

Several times, I've been at a bar and the WNBA will be playing on some small screen in the corner. Just a few weeks ago, a guy I was with kept commenting on how pathetic the players were and how the WNBA is going broke and how low scoring it is. I don't even know what to say to comments like these.

I love women's basketball, and this just makes me want to support the WNBA more (cuz I don't do a very good job).

1. Never been to one. Watched several on TV. I need to get to a Lynx game...

2. No.

3. No.

4. Of course!

5. I just need to make time for watching it, and tell people that's what I'll be doing.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Yeah, I think we're spoiled here in Los Angeles - the Sparks playoff game was on very big screens in bars last night!

Lindsay said...

I'm glad to hear that!

Bj said...

Hi Apryl,
Just wanted to stop by and leave a comment after watching last nights game of Sparks vs Storm it re-reminded me what a classy person Lisa Leslie is. Several years ago my friends gave me a pair of tickets to the Monarchs vs Sparks game for my B-Day, knowing that Lisa Leslie was one of my favorite players. I took my son. At the end of the game the only person left on the court at a Sacramento game was Lisa Leslie signing autographs for the fans. For my B-Day my son went down there (him being 6'2 at the time (now 6'5) towered over the others) held out the ticket and Lisa autographed it for him to give back to me. What a great memory.


Apryl DeLancey said...

Hey BJ! Nice to hear from you. That is a great story!