2004 WNBA MVP Announcement: Lisa Leslie Transcript

WNBA PRESIDENT VAL ACKERMAN, LISA LESLIE, LOS ANGELES SPARKS, CAROLYN COOK, REGIONAL PARTS MANAGER, GENERAL MOTORS

VAL ACKERMAN: Thank you. I want to start off by acknowledging our friends at General Motors. As you know General Motors has been a partner of the WNBA since its inception in 1997, and it's a relationship we're very, very happy with and extremely proud of. Thank you, GM, for your incredible support of the league and women's sports.

I think everybody knows the woman to my right.

It is very difficult, very difficult to put into words Lisa's value to the WNBA. In a league that has had an extraordinary change over the past eight years, Lisa has been an amazing constant. When she signed on with us in 1996 -- do you remember that?

LISA LESLIE: Yes.

VAL ACKERMAN: 1996, 8 years ago, we knew that we had somebody very, very special that was going to be part of the WNBA. But what we couldn't know then, what we didn't know, because we couldn't know, is that we would have a player that would go on, who would go on with so many players coming and going, go on and dominate and consistently dominate, and dominate in such an incredibly classy way. There is no time today to recite all of Lisa's accomplishments, all of the things that she's done over the course of her career.

This year she only added to that incredible list. More points, more rebounds, more blocks, Defensive Player of the Year for the first time. Congratulations on that, belatedly, by the way, All WNBA -- whoops, I said it for the 7th time. Another Olympic gold medal to go with the first two.

It's true, on the court, Lisa is the classic MVP. She makes the big play, she leads by example, and she inspires her teammates, like Nikki Teasley, who is here, to do better. And these are just a few of the qualities of what I would call one of the greatest athletes in women's sports today.

But what makes Lisa MVP in my mind are the things that she does off the court that the world doesn't always see, and that the world doesn't always know about. I can tell you that in Lisa we could not have ever had a better, more eloquent, more impassioned, more tireless ambassador. There have been so many times when she is called upon to give of herself, to be someplace, to talk to someone or to some group, to engage with fans or with partners, certainly with all of you, and to help articulate and help to bring to life what women's basketball is all about. And I can tell you that Lisa always comes through. It is rare, I would tell you, to see and to find a player who so completely understands the big picture and all of the things that go into building and growing -- building and maintaining the identity of the sport, not to mention having what it takes to meet the demands that are placed on professional athletes. And those demands can go counting. But Lisa has always been and continues to be one of those players. She's positive, she's inspires, she's intelligent and she's the real deal in every imaginable way.

So Lisa, for that, thank you very much. It is an honor to have you part of the WNBA, and it is a great pleasure for me to present you with the 2004 WNBA Most Valuable Player award presented by General Motors.

CAROLYN COOK: Thank you. General Motors has been involved with the WNBA since the league began in 1997. GM is proud to present the WNBA Most Valuable Player with a brand-new GM vehicle from our diverse product line-up every year. On behalf of GMC and the men and women of General Motors to show our loyalty to this incredible organization, we would like to present Lisa with the keys to a 2005 GMC Yukon, in recognition of her outstanding career and achievements.


Lisa, your MVP performance this season exemplifies the professional grade capabilities of our GMC trucks, and we wish you all the best, congratulations.

LISA LESLIE: It's not often that I'm really at a loss for words, but I'm just so thankful to be blessed enough to have played a sport that I really love, I'm very passionate about the game, and just having the opportunity to play in the WNBA and have a league in our country has been amazing. And Val, I just wanted to thank you for giving myself and all the girls in the league, and the young girls coming behind us to play a sport we love as professionals. And thanks to you, as well as the General Motors, and all of our sponsors, because truly without you guys, we could not exist and have the many opportunities that we have, and to win this award and to receive a car, I mean, it's amazing. This is just a great opportunity for women and for myself.

I play a team sport to win championships, that's always been my goal. And I enjoy being a role model for young girls. And I'm thankful to my teammates and the Los Angeles Sparks and our president, Johnny Buss, and our coaches Karleen Thompson and Ryan Weisenberg, and my teammates, and Nikki Teasley who's here, who throws me the ball every single time she has an opportunity, who are just so unselfish, and we just play a sport that really, to win the Most Valuable Player is an individual award, but I accept it on behalf of my teammates who make me a better person and player every day in practice, and it's even bigger than an individual award. It's just a great opportunity to be a role model at this time, and to receive a car for that is cool. I mean it's a great truck. It's huge. And I guess that's the only size car I probably would fit in.

But it's a wonderful opportunity to receive this award, again, and to join the ranks of Cynthia Cooper, who was one of my favorite players, who has represented our league so well. And I work hard every day, and I want to thank my trainers, Adam Freeman and Bob Dominguez, who push me every single day to get in the training room, and Coach Michael Cooper, who has worked with me over the years and worked with me in the morning to really improve my game. And that's really what it's about, is setting goals and having dreams come true.

And I always speak to the young girls before I leave, and say, "If you write down your goals and really work hard, dreams really can come true." And I'm thankful to everyone who has helped me get to these goals and receive them. And thanks to my family, and mom. Thanks again.

I'm sorry, thanks to the media. The media who voted for me. That is amazing, because I'm really thankful to have you guys. You are the vehicle to get our message out there. It's been tremendous how much the media has picked up and followed the WNBA, and we've convinced and changed the minds of so many people and men in their hearts, and they've grown to love the WNBA and truly respect what we do. I'm thankful for all of you who voted me and this opportunity to win this award. Thanks.

Q. Congratulations. Knowing how competitive you are, I know you love the truck, and love the bronze trophy, but you'd trade it all to be out there, talk about that?
LISA LESLIE: Like I said, my goal is always to win championships, and it's about with my team. I've played for the LA Sparks since the conception of the league, and we've built up a great team there, and you know, it's always our goal year after year to win a championship. And I'm pretty sure it's the goal of every team, but only one team can really hold up that trophy at the end. I truly leave the season saying I gave it my all and did my best. And that's what keeps me driven to go back to the gym and go back to the weight room and go back and try to do it again.

I guess my mom tried to tell me that, "Lisa, you can't win it every single time. You can't win everything." But I just don't believe that sometimes. I worked hard, obviously, to try to take the Los Angeles Sparks, assist us to get to a championship, and we didn't get there. And this is all great, but, yeah, I would probably trade it in -- I don't know, the truck -- championship, truck -- well, of course I would love to be playing (laughter.)

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