Los Angeles’ Lisa Leslie Named 2008
WNBA Defensive Player of the Year

--Three-time MVP Wins Second
Defensive Player of the Year Award --

NEW YORK, Sept. 19, 2008 -- Los Angeles Sparks center Lisa Leslie was named the 2008 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, the league announced today. Leslie received 20 votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters, beating out Detroit Shock guard Katie Smith, who garnered five votes. Leslie previously won the award in 2004.

In honor of being named the Defensive Player of the Year, Leslie will receive a trophy specially designed by Tiffany & Co and $5,000.

Leslie led the WNBA in both total blocks (97) and blocks per game (2.94). She totaled 22 more blocks than teammate Candace Parker (75), who placed second among league leaders, and nearly tied her career high of 98 which she set in 2004. Leslie rejected five or more shots in seven games this season, including a season-high eight blocks against Sacramento on Aug. 28 and against Minnesota two games later on Sept. 1.

The 11-year veteran has also consistently been adept at swiping the ball from opponents as she ranks sixth in league history in steals (276). In 2008, she finished second among centers in both total steals with 49 (Nicky Anosike, 75) and steals per game at 1.5 (Anosike, 2.2). She stole the ball a season-high five times at Sacramento on June 14. On the year, she tallied three or more steals on six occasions.

The league's all-time leading rebounder was also once again a force on the defensive glass in 2008. She collected 209 defensive rebounds, second only to teammate Candace Parker's 229.

After sitting out the 2007 season due to the birth of her first child, Leslie returned to the Sparks to drastically improve the team defense from a year ago. Last season, the Sparks ranked 11th in the WNBA in team defense allowing 79.6 points per game while posting a league-worst -5.1 point differential. With Leslie back in the lineup, Los Angeles jumped to sixth in team defense and shaved more than five points off the per game average, finishing at 74.2 points against per game. Leslie and company improved their point differential to +2.2, which marked a 7.3-point turnaround and ranked fifth in the league. The Sparks also ranked first in opponents' field goal percentage at 38.4 percent.

A legend of the game, Leslie is one of the most accomplished players in women's basketball history. This season she won a record fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in Beijing. Over her career, she is a three-time WNBA MVP, two-time WNBA champion, a former WNBA Finals MVP, seven-time WNBA All-Star, 10-time All-WNBA honoree and a member of the WNBA All-Decade Team. She also is the all-time league leader in points (5,909), rebounds (3,156), field goals made (2,188) and free-throws made (1,412). On June 26, she became the first player to reach the 3,000 career rebounds, nearly two years to the date after becoming the first player to 5,000 career points.

Below are the complete results of the 2008 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year votes and a list of past recipients:

2008 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR RESULTS
20 Lisa Leslie Los Angeles Sparks
5 Katie Smith Detroit Shock
3 Alexis Hornbuckle Detroit Shock
2 Nicky Anosike Minnesota Lynx
2 Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever
2 Asjha Jones Connecticut Sun
2 Candace Parker Los Angeles Sparks
1 Sylvia Fowles Chicago Sky
1 Lauren Jackson Seattle Storm
1 Kara Lawson Sacramento Monarchs
1 DeLisha Milton-Jones Los Angeles Sparks
1 Ticha Penicheiro Sacramento Monarchs
1 Plenette Pierson Detroit Shock
1 Sophia Young San Antonio Silver Stars

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR WINNERS
2008 Lisa Leslie Los Angeles Sparks
2007 Lauren Jackson Seattle Storm
2006 Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever
2005 Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever
2004 Lisa Leslie Los Angeles Sparks
2003 Sheryl Swoopes Houston Comets
2002 Sheryl Swoopes Houston Comets
2001 Debbie Black Miami Sol
2000 Sheryl Swoopes Houston Comets
1999 Yolanda Griffith Sacramento Monarchs
1998 Teresa Weatherspoon New York Liberty
1997 Teresa Weatherspoon New York Liberty

About the WNBA
Comprised of 14 teams, the WNBA is the most successful women's professional team sports league in the world. The WNBA concluded its 12th regular season with increases in key metrics including attendance, ratings and web traffic. The 2008 WNBA Playoffs presented by adidas began Thursday, Sept. 18 when both the Eastern and Western Conference Semifinals tipped off with games airing on ESPN2 and NBA TV.

Through WNBA Cares, the WNBA is deeply committed to creating programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and positive body image, increase breast and women's health awareness, support youth and family development, and focus on education. For more information on the WNBA, log on to www.wnba.com.

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