LOS ANGELES, Aug. 31 --
There are no more doubters.
Four months after Los Angeles raised eyebrows by trading point guard Ukari Figgs to the Portland Fire for rookie Nikki Teasley in a multiplayer deal on draft day, the 23-year-old rookie from North Carolina showed the world why the Sparks shook up their roster despite winning the 2001 WNBA title.
Teasley twice posted a WNBA Finals record 11 assists, sank a three-point shot with 2.4 seconds remaining to propel the Sparks to a 69-66 victory in Game 2, and drew comparisons to Magic – yes, that Magic – from Sparks head coach Michael Cooper.
“It’s kind of ironic that a rookie would hit the game-winning shot after we’ve got a team filled with so many veterans,” said Cooper, who teamed with rookie Magic Johnson in 1979-80 when the Lakers won the NBA Finals. “Nikki Teasley reminds me of that man so much. She’s a ‘Lady Magic.’ She hit the biggest shot in the biggest game of the year and she is truly a special player.”
“I can never be spoken in the same sentence as Magic Johnson,” said Teasley. “He’s done way, way too much for the game of basketball, a lot more than I could ever do.”
Teasley chose a great time to start, however.
“I’ve never hit a game-winning shot,” said Teasley. “I’ve never won anything from playing. I won an AAU tournament, maybe when I was 10 years old, but nothing ever big, nothing in college. … I’ll tell you what, I’m not disappointed. This is the one to get.”
No doubt, the Los Angeles Sparks are esctatic they got Teasley on draft day.
“Everybody kind of questioned us when we decided that we wanted to tinker around with our starting lineup,” said Cooper. “Ukari Figgs was a great player for us and she was surely missed, but we were looking for the long term and Nikki Teasley was the player that we wanted to take the basketball and guide the team. … She just showed everybody why we took her and did what we did.”