LARRY B

Larry Burnett Larry Burnett is in his 13th season as the “Voice” of the Los Angeles Sparks. Throughout the 2009 season, he’ll be sharing his thoughts on the team, the players, the WNBA, and just about anything that suits his fancy in Larry’s blog here on www.lasparks.com. If you have questions or comments for him, check out his website at www.larrybsports.com. Just click “EMAIL” and send your thoughts his way.

To relive some of Larry's greatest moments on radio, CLICK HERE for Larry B's Interviews and Highlights!

10/5/09: A TRIBUTE TO LISA LESLIE

A FOND FAREWELL TO #9
You gave us the dunk, the jumper, the hook
You rewrote the women’s hoop record books
You brought your A-game every time that you played
You traveled the world with Team USA
You stuck to your guns, never wavered or settled
You honored your country with four golden medals

When they said you were soft, you proved critics wrong
And showed through your hustle and grit - you belonged
You played with a confidence - strong and bold
And tattooed some opponents with well placed elbows
You worked on your game never missing a trick
While always remembering your makeup and lipstick
You lived like a lady and played like a lion
You vanquished your foes leaving lots of them crying
You played with intensity, ferocity and fire
You set the bar high and then set it higher

We watched you play hurt - face defeat with aplomb
We watched you grow into a wife and a mom
Your life flew by right before our very eyes
And now we regretfully must realize
That as much as we want you to rebound and soar
We won’t get to see #9 anymore

We’ve seen you evolve and accomplish things great
We’ve seen you win and celebrate
All the records, the accolades, write-ups and fame
Were deservedly yours - a true credit to the game
You gave us so much and then gave so much more
You showed little girls they have so much to live for
If only your heart and your soul could be bottled
If only the world had more caring role models - like you

We’ll miss you Ms. Leslie, your style and your grace
Let’s face it; you are one who cannot be replaced
For years we watched you run, shoot and score
Now we know that won’t happen anymore
So, we’ll have to reflect on your love and your laughter
And wait for that night when your shirt hits the rafters
Even though you’re retired, we’ll still come to the games
Knowing full in our hearts they won’t be quite the same
Great memories will soothe us and make us feel fine
But hoop life can’t be the same without #9.

Lisa Leslie's life story "Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You" is available in paperback now. It includes a new cover and a brand new "afterword" which Lisa wrote about her Olympic experiences in Beijing. The book is available in stores and at Amazon. com.

CLICK HERE to purchase.

8/26/09: DMJ INTERVIEW

One of the fun aspects of doing my job is interviewing the Sparks' players. Thankfully, they have always been available, accommodating, and interesting. Over the years, one of the Sparks' most entertaining interview subjects has been Delisha Milton-Jones. She always has something to say and always seems to say things with a smile in her voice. "D" is a thoroughly enjoyable chat partner who has a unique perspective on things. I never know what to expect when I talk with her, and she enlightened me again recently when we sat down to talk about her throwing out the first pitch at a Dodgers' game and a "not so flattering" nickname that she got during her high school days. Click and listen. If you do not smile at least once during this interview, I will be totally amazed.

CLICK HERE for interview

You can check out more Sparks' interviews and some exciting highlights too by going to the top of this page right next to my adorable picture and CLICK HERE to get into the AUDIO HIGHLIGHTS AND INTERVIEW section of this blog.

As always, if you have questions or comments for me, go to my website www.larrybsports.com, click “E-mail” and send your notes down the cyber pipeline. I’ll try to answer some of your mail during our upcoming web casts or broadcasts. Thursday's game with Phoenix and Sunday's game with the Connecticut Sun will be televised locally and I'll be calling the play-by-play on FSN Prime Ticket.

8/13/09: TAKE A PICTURE!

On Monday night, August 10, 2009 we got to see a WNBA first and quite possibly, a WNBA “last”.

The “first” was Lisa Leslie becoming the first WNBA player to score 6000 career points. Isn’t it nice that Lisa has reached so many of her incredible milestones in front of the hometown fans and in front of this reporter’s microphone? It has been a true privilege!

BTW- Only Tina Thompson and Katie Smith are in the league’s 5000-point club.

The “last” was watching Lisa, Tina, and former Sparks’ guard, Tamecka Dixon playing in the L.A. vs. Indiana game. Those are three of the four remaining active players who were there when the WNBA began in the 1997 season. We may never see that scene again because Lisa is going to retire after this season. Tina is contemplating retirement and T.D. told me that she is leaning towards hanging up her basketball shoes as well. San Antonio’s Vicki Johnson is the other active player who was in uniform for the WNBA’s inaugural season. V.J. has already announced that 2009 will be her final season, so enjoy that quartet while you can, while they are still lacing them up in the WNBA.

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Here are some excerpts from my recent conversation with Candace Parker. I asked “Ace” how her comeback was going after her maternity leave?

“My first game was July 5th. Obviously, I am not exactly where I was last year by any means, but I think every game is getting better. Slowly but surely things are coming back.”

I wanted to know what the toughest physical part of C.P.’s comeback was. Was there one area where she said, “Wow! I really need to work on that?”

"The biggest thing was bending my knees. That was the toughest for me and it still remains the toughest part of my comeback. My quads and hamstrings are not use to firing the way they need to in a WNBA game. A lot of times I think that I am playing low, but I’m not. I am standing straight up. I went back and looked at film. I said, ‘Wow! I am standing straight up when I dribble the ball.’That is tough, but slowly but surely things are coming back for me."

We also talked about Michael Cooper’s plan to use the four U.S. Olympic gold medalists (C.P., Tina, Lisa, & DMJ) in the same lineup.

“Awesome! Just think how big and dominant we could be if we all just continue to play together and play hard and play smart. That is the key thing. I wouldn’t mind playing the two position. I played some point last year so I am used to playing out facing the basket.”

When the Sparks were back in Chicago on their recent road trip, Candace stopped home in Naperville, Illinois for a very special occasion. “Candace Parker Court” was dedicated at the park where “Ace” began her basketball playing days. There was a ceremony, a key to the city and lots of hoopla on a day that meant a lot to C.P. and her family.

“Naperville is very special to me. I grew up there from the time that I was three until I was 18 years old. I went through the whole school system there and that park is very special to me. That is where I pretty much first picked up a basketball. That is where my family went to play almost every weekend. That is where my father decided that I was not working hard enough, so he decided to leave and I had to walk home from that park. We have a lot of great memories at that park. To have it dedicated was great. To bring my family back there and to show my daughter (whether she knew where she was or not) where mommy grew up was very special. I have always gotten a tremendous amount of support from Naperville. I feel very blessed to have that support and I will continue to go back there and show my appreciation for what they have given me.”

BTW- when the Sparks were on that lengthy road trip in July, where was C.P.’s baby daughter, Lailaa Nicole?

“She was right there with me. Lailaa is not going to be very far from mommy. I want her to have everything that she would have had had I not gone back to play basketball as early as I did. She would be with me if I was not playing, so I want her to be with me now that I am. She is a happy baby, very easy. She travels well, so I am very lucky.”

And what has Candace learned about herself during her first few months of motherhood?

“I have learned that I am truly stubborn. I like to do things my way. I like to do things myself with my child. I don’t want to miss out on anything. My mom says to me, ‘Let me take her for the night,’ and I am like, ‘No, I’ve got her.” I don’t want to miss out on anything. I don’t want to miss when she grabs something or rolls over. I am very protective of her and I want to be around her all the time.”

If Candace is half as good a mom as she is a hoop player, that is going to be one lucky kid.

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If you have questions or comments for me, go to my website www.larrybsports.com
Click “E-mail” and send your notes through the cyber pipeline. I’ll try to answer some of your mail during our Live Access telecasts.

8/7/09: LARRY BLOG UPDATE!

Thursday night should have been a real bummer for me. Traffic on the 101 was so bad that it took me two hours to drive to Staples Center and then I had to work overtime. It was darn well worth it though, to see the Sparks knock off Seattle. That game had a real playoff feel to it and if the Sparks are going to make the playoffs, they are going to have to knock off some of the teams that are in front of them in the conference race. Is there still time? Absolutely!

But not enough time to let victories slip their fingers the way the Sparks did against San Antonio and almost did against the Storm.

I am so happy for Noelle Quinn. She really picked a great night to set a new career high with 23 points against Seattle. “Q” also canned a huge three-pointer that helped the Sparks get to overtime, then put up eight points and three boards in the extra session. She looked right at home on the floor with Tina, Lisa, DMJ, and Candace. It was “Quinn and the Four U.S. Olympians”. I think you are going to see a lot more of that unit in games to come. If they can pool their individual talents and turn them into team chemistry, that squad will wreak havoc in the final month of the WNBA’s regular season. Hey! It worked for the U.S. Olympic Team. Why shouldn’t it work for the Sparks?

Note: Betty Lennox told me that she is hoping to play in Monday night’s matchup with Indiana. She has inflammation in her knee caused by a softening of the kneecap. She could barely walk for awhile, but hopefully she will be ready to go against Tamika Catchings and Company. That game will be a homecoming for former Sparks Tamecka Dixon and Jessica Moore as well as former USC standouts, Ebony Hoffman and Eshaya Murphy.

If you can’t make it to the game, be sure to check out my play-by-play on the net - LiveAccess - beginning at 7:30PM(pt) on LASparks.com.

If you have questions or comments for me, go to my website www.larrybsports.com
Click “E-mail” and send your notes through the cyber pipeline. I’ll try to answer some of your mail during our upcoming webcasts.

7/29/09: ALL STAR REVUE!

It was great to see some die-hard Sparks’ fans at the recent WNBA All-Star Weekend in Connecticut. Tina Thompson started for the West squad and represented the Sparks in fine fashion during the All-Star Game at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Tina had a locker right next to Sacramento’s Nicole Powell, the player who filled in for Lisa Leslie who missed her final All-Star affair because of a knee injury. I saw Tina before Saturday’s game. She was taping her left big toe, which was missing an entire nail courtesy of a teammate who had inadvertently stomped on the big piggy. OUCH!

I asked Tina why the Sparks have struggled this season and she told me, “our team is in every game, but we have a few minutes in each game when we lose focus and that kills us.”

Larry’s List of Things You might not have seen at the All- Star Weekend.

  1. Becky Hammon winning the 3-point shootout. (No surprise!)
  2. The “Skills” competitors missing more FT’s than 3 point shots
  3. Elliott Yamin (from American Idol) tossing tee shirts into the crowd
  4. N.Y. Liberty’s “Timeless Torches” dance team. The oldies, but goodies were terrific!
  5. Tina getting her Olympic championship ring at halftime
  6. UConn’s Geno Auriemma getting the biggest applause of the day when he was introduced as the head coach for the U.S. Women’s’ National Team and 2012 Olympic Team
  7. Philly cheese steak egg rolls in the Media dining room. I kid you not - Egg Rolls!
  8. WNBA President, Donna Orender, announcing that Tulsa, Oklahoma is a strong candidate to get a WNBA franchise and Donna Orender tossing tee shirts into the crowd. Pretty good arm, too.
  9. Chicago’s Sylvia Fowles tossing a tee shirt into the upper deck. Great arm.
  10. Fowles getting a “clear path” dunk with 14.9 seconds left in the All-Star Game. It was fun to see, but we all know that Lisa and Candace are the only players who have dunked in real WNBA games when opponents play defense and the games really count.

The Sparks are back home on August 4th for a noontime game with San Antonio. You can catch my play-by-play in our very first LiveAccess presentation that can be seen and heard at LASparks.com or wnba.com.

If you want to send your comments and questions to me, just go to my website www.larrybsports.com and click the button that says “Email”. I will answer you and I may use some of your questions on the LiveAccess.

I hope to see you at the games!

6/30/09: THE PERFECT STORM!

Definition- “the simultaneous occurrence of weather events which, taken individually, are powerful, but when combined under optimum circumstances are extremely powerful and destructive.”

This is not a meteorology lesson. It is an analysis of the Sparks’ 82-55 drubbing of the Seattle Storm last Sunday night at Staples Center. The Sparks did not have Lisa Leslie or Candace Parker. Individually, there was still plenty of talent on the team. When those talents were combined under optimum circumstances, the Sparks were extremely powerful and darn near unstoppable.

What a great win for Coop’s Troops! Five Sparks’ players scored double-digit points. Not one Seattle player managed that. Not even Lauren Jackson, the WNBA’s leading scorer. L.A.’s defense, keyed by DMJ held LJax to just nine points and four rebounds. Jackson was so frustrated that she committed a silly flagrant foul on Betty Lennox late in the third quarter. Sue Bird went into the game leading the league in assists. She left the game with a total of two assists.

Kudos to the former Minnesota Lynx’ players. Vanessa Hayden has been an excellent addition at the center position. She has the size to muscle opponents out of their comfort zones. She leads the team in blocked shots and VH-55 has shown a deft touch with her jumpers from 8 to 12 feet. Noelle Quinn was a Spark plug off the L.A. bench as well. She scored a season high, 10 points and jump-started the Sparks’ offense when things were looking bleak. Nice pick ups, P.T.!

The Sparks shot 35% in the first quarter of that game and trailed 17-15. From that point on, they outscored Seattle 67 to 38 and out shot the Storm 50% to 32%. Not too shabby! And talk about optimum circumstances, the Sparklers committed just 11 turnovers in the game while forcing Seattle into twice as many miscues. The Sparks earned a 36 to 10 advantage on points off of turnovers and also owned the points in the paint stat 40-22. Wow!

It was a big win and it kept the Sparks unbeaten at home this season. They’ll try to add to that streak, Sunday night when Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Merc come to Staples Center.

Unfortunately, the Sparks have yet to win a game away from Staples Center. They are 0-5 so far on the road. That trend has got to stop and stop soon. After the Phoenix game, the Sparks will play seven consecutive road games. The bout with the Mercury is their only home game in the month of July. In fact, after the Phoenix game, the Sparks will not play another home game until August 4th when San Antonio comes to town.

The Sparks need to stay within striking distance of the conference leaders until Lisa and Candace get back. That means they have to get some wins on the road.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July. I’ll see you in Sparksville Sunday night. If you cannot make it to Staples Center, be sure to catch my call of the game on FSN-Prime Ticket and NBA-TV starting at 6:30 P.M. (pt)

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If you have questions or comments for me, go to my website www.larrybsports.com
Click “E-mail” and send your notes through the cyber pipeline. I’ll try to answer some of your mail during our broadcasts.

6/25/09: The Blog is BACK!

The blog is back and so am I. It was great to see so many of you at Sunday night's Sparks v Monarchs game. Big win for the team. They really stepped up and Coop said it was the best Fathers' Day present he has gotten in the last five years.

Sparks news

Do not be surprised if:

  1. Lisa is out longer than anticipated with her knee injury.
  2. Candace is back sooner than the "mid July" date that she gave me during our halftime interview on FSN- Prime Ticket

Thanks to so many of you for your kind words. It was terrific to be back in Sparksville again. I hear you. I know that you miss our radio calls of the Sparks' road games. I miss being on the road with the team and calling the games for you, but these are difficult economic times. Coming up in August, you will be able to catch my calls on the Sparks' Live Access. Audio and video.

Next up for me, a big game against Seattle Sunday night, June 28th on FSN Prime Ticket. It all starts at 6:30. If you can't get to the game at Staples, check it out on the tube.

That is it for now. Larry will "B- Bloggin" from time to time so be sure to visit this site.

Thanks. Go Sparks!

10/7/08: Goodbye to a Great Season.

C-P-Remarkable!

Congratulations to #3. How about Candace winning the Rookie of the Year award in the WNBA and the Most Valuable Player trophy in the same season! She was as good as advertised and proved that she was well worth the top pick in the 2008 draft.

In the NBA, only Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld were able to win both awards in their rookie seasons. Wilt, a seven-footer, took home both trophies in 1960, his first season with the Philadelphia Warriors. Unseld, a 6’6” tree trunk center, did it with the Baltimore Bullets in 1969.

So, Ms. Parker is in some very elite company. The amazing thing is, that as good as she is now, Candace will continue to improve. Just think how good she might be next year with two healthy shoulders.

SHOCKING NEWS!

As much as it pains me to say so, the Detroit Shock deserved to win the WNBA Championship. Bill Laimbeer’s squad has a ton of weapons, focuses on defense, plays great team basketball, and never quits. The Shock took Becky Hammon and the Silver Stars completely out of their game plan and their comfort zone, much as San Antonio did with the Sparks in post-season play.

Picking up Taj McWilliams-Franklin during the Olympic break turned out to be a major coup. I’m happy for Taj. She’s a great lady who has been good for the women’s game for a lot of years.

Isn’t it weird how things work out? Last year, Taj was with the Sparks. Then she was traded to Washington in the Delisha Milton-Jones deal. The Mystics were going nowhere. Taj got traded to Detroit and now, after ten years in the league, she’s got her first WNBA Championship.

CAN’T WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR!

Many thanks to Penny Toler, Coop, his staff, P.R. Director Alayne Ingram, blog guru Chris Forrest, and the Sparks’ players for making my job so enjoyable. They are a terrific group and great fun to work with.

I’m happy that Kathy and Carla got a taste of the playoffs this year. They’ve had to deal with a lot in their first two years at the helm and I know that the best is yet to come for them and the Sparks.

Thanks to all of you for tuning in our broadcasts, stopping by to say hello at Staples Center, buying Lisa’s life story, “Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You”, checking out the blog and sending your emails. For the eleventh consecutive year, the pleasure has truly been mine.

And finally, a big “THANK YOU” to our radio and TV. crews. Executive producer, Frank Polak, Sam Zia, and engineer, John Traconis at AM-1150. I had a great time working alongside Derek Fisher, Tracy Warren, and Lindsay Soto on our FSN telecasts with producers, Steve Elkin and Dennis Kirkpatrick, and director, Mike Hassen. Doug “Stats” Mann handled statistics for me on radio and television once again this season. He is a true pro.

UNTIL NEXT SEASON!

Have a wonderful off-season, Sparks’ fans! I leave you with a great quote from Dr. Joyce Brothers.
“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success."

9/24/08: Welcome to the Western Conference Finals!

I almost needed the defibrillator again on Tuesday night, but the Sparks held on and beat Seattle 71-64 at Key Arena. So welcome to the Western Conference Finals and welcome to the Galen Center at USC for Thursday night’s game #1 against San Antonio. Here’s the link to a letter from Kathy & Carla explaining all the nuances of the site change.

It turns out that Staples Center has “Walking with Dinosaurs-The Live Experience” scheduled from the 25th through the 29th. Here’s a link for that extravaganza if you are mesmerized by that sort of thing.

“Walking with Dinosaurs-The Live Experience” also has job opportunities available. One of those jobs is listed as “Creature Driver”. All the info is there on the site if you are severely interested.

Now, I am sure that “Walking with Dinosaurs-The Live Experience” is a wonderful show, but I remember the last time that the Sparks were nudged out of Staples Center for a playoff game, and it was not a pleasant memory. It was 2006, the last time that the Sparks were in the conference finals. Sacramento was the opponent. The Sparks swept the season series 3-0, but the Monarchs squeaked out a 3 point win at Arco Arena in game #1 of the conference finals and the series shifted to Los Angeles for game #2 and game #3(if necessary).

The problem was that Staples Center was booked for the “American Idol Tour”, so the Sparks’ game had to be moved to the Arrowhead Pond (now the Honda Center) in Anaheim. So much for home court advantage!
The Sparks did not even know where their locker room was at “The Pond” and they never found their way on the court that day either. Sacramento jumped all over them, held the Sparks to 8 points in the second quarter, and led 45-21 at halftime. The Monarchs maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way and won the game 72-58, and the series 2-0. Hopefully, history will not repeat itself Thursday night at the Galen Center.
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I promised you the rest of my WNBA post-season award picks, so here they are.

ALL WNBA FIRST TEAM

F- CANDACE PARKER- L.A.
F- TINA THOMPSON- HOUSTON
C- LISA LESLIE- L.A.
G- BECKY HAMMON- SAN ANTONIO
G- DIANA TAURASI- PHOENIX

SIXTH WOMAN OF THE YEAR

CANDICE WIGGINS- MINNESOTA

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

1. CANDACE PARKER- L.A.
2. BECKY HAMMON- SAN ANTONIO
3. LISA LESLIE- L.A.
4. TINA THOMPSON- HOUSTON
5. DIANA TAURASI- PHOENIX

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Don’t forget to check out my personal web site/ blog.

9/18/08: Let the Playoffs Begin!

vs.

The Sparks' playoff season begins Friday night when Coop's Troops host the Seattle Storm in first round action. This is one time when the WNBA's "home court advantage" system could very well work in favor of L.A. The Sparks had a lesser record than Seattle and finished third in the West, but under the league format, the Storm gets home court advantage, but the Sparks get the first game at home. It sounds confusing, but the method behind the madness is that the WNBA wants to make sure that the lower seeded team gets at least one game on its home floor in front of its home fans.

In this case, by finishing behind the second place Storm in the standings, the Sparks avoid starting the series in Key Arena where, this season, Seattle built the best home record in the league (16-1). If the Sparks can win at Staples Friday night, they will only have to win one of two games up in Seattle to advance to the conference semi-finals. That makes winning game #1 imperative for the Sparks.

Post Season Awards

Over the next few weeks, the WNBA will be announcing its post-season award winners. I thought I'd give you a head start by telling you how I voted on some of the categories.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Candace Parker- L.A.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Patty Coyle- NY

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

Ebony Hoffman- Indiana

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Lisa Leslie- L.A.

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I’ll tell you how I voted on some of the other WNBA Awards as the playoffs roll along.

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Friday night, I’ll be calling the Sparks v Storm playoff game for FSN & NBA-TV. That game will be tape delayed until the Dodgers’ game is over in Los Angeles, so get to Staples Center to watch it live and then head home to catch the game on the tube.

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Don’t forget to check out my personal web site/ blog at www.larrybsports.com

9/10/08: WHERE'S MARGO?

She is here. Margo Dydek is in Los Angeles - all 7 feet, two inches of her. I watched Wednesday’s practice and Margo looks good, especially for a player who just had a baby a few months ago. Coop is putting in some plays especially for Margo, but what he really wants is defense and rebounding from her. That should not be too tough. Dydek is the WNBA’s all-time shot block leader. Lisa is second on that list, and Lisa and CP are 1-2 in the blocked shot race this season. Can you say, “block party”? Just think about that front line! Heck, you could plug in Delisha and the Sparks’ combined wing spans might allow the team to play zone and guard from sideline to sideline without anyone ever moving.

I hope to see you at Thursday night’s game against Atlanta. I know you are going to enjoy seeing Margo Dydek play. She alters a lot of shots and Margo makes Lisa (6’5”) and Candace (6’4”) look incredibly tiny when they are side by side on the court. You won’t believe it!!

9/08/08: HOUSTON HAD THE PROBLEM!

What a difference a night makes! Somehow the Sparks were able to remember the Alamo and forget their disappointing loss in San Antonio just in time to beat the Houston Comets and clinch a playoff spot in the Western Conference race.

Friday night, the AT&T center was filled with L.A. turnovers, missed shots and miscommunication. That combo led to the Sparks getting trounced by the Silver Stars. San Antonio clinched a playoff berth and the Sparks did not.

We left San Antonio around 11PM, stopped and got some scrumptious gourmet delights and then bussed our way to Houston. Coop played the video of that night’s loss and everybody got to watch the horror movie one more time on the monitors placed throughout the bus. I could understand Coop being upset with the team, but why did he have to punish me. I had already seen the game and once was plenty!

We got to the hotel in Houston around 3AM and everybody sacked out. There was no game day shoot around, but Coop did get the team together, talked with them and made them watch parts of the San Antonio game AGAIN! (He should be arrested for cruel and unusual punishment, but whatever the coaching staff did, it worked.)

The Sparks were back in gear and back in sync when the game against the Comets started at Reliant Arena. Instead of throwing the ball away as they did in San Antonio, the Sparks ran their offense, moved the basketball and hit their shots. L.A.’s defense held Houston to 37% shooting and forced 18 turnovers. Everybody played for the Sparks in that game and everybody scored and contributed. Coop’s Troops shot 53%, got 24 assists and a total of 29 points off the bench.

The 84-66 victory clinched a playoff spot for the Sparks, so I am going to recommend that Coop make the players watch the DVD of the San Antonio loss before every game the rest of the season (as long as I do not have to watch it with them).

BIG NEWS

7’2” Margo Dydek had some visa problems (no, not her credit card) but she is finally in Los Angeles. She is on the Sparks’ roster and scheduled to wear #12.We may get to see her Los Angeles debut Thursday night when the Sparks host Atlanta.
I’ll be working that game on FSN-Prime Ticket, so if you cannot get downtown be sure to check out the game on the tube starting at 7:30P.M. (pt) There will not be any local radio for that game and we won’t be on AM-1150 for the Sparks’ playoff games either, since most of those will be televised nationally. I know. I am as disappointed as you are- probably more, but that is Show Biz!

I’ll see you at the game against the Dream. Keep those emails coming and don’t forget to check out my personal blog at www.larrybsports.com.

8/29/08: Minnesota Minutia From LB

MTM StatueThe very successful Mary Tyler Moore Show of the 1970’s was set in Minneapolis. Mary played Mary Richards, a television news producer at the fictional WJM-TV. The show had an all-star cast that included Ed Asner as Lou Grant, Ted Knight as anchorman Ted Baxter, and Betty White as the “Happy Homemaker”, Sue Ann Nivens.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show brought so much attention and acclaim to Minneapolis that the city fathers (and mothers) decided to erect a statue of Mary on the Nicollett Mall downtown. I took the accompanying pic the last time the Sparks were in the Minnesota.

The Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx will be celebrating the Labor Day holiday with a 7:30 P.M. (pt) game at Staples Center. If you cannot make it to the arena, you can catch that game on FSN-Prime Ticket television.

The Sparks have split two games with Minnesota this season. They lost by 18 at Staples Center on the day before the 4th of July and then had to go to overtime in Minneapolis to beat the Lynx in the last game before the Olympic break.

LISA On OPRAH

Lisa Leslie is going to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Monday September 8th. Winfrey will be starting the show’s 23rd season with an Olympic special, which will also include Kobe Bryant, Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, Dara Torres, Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.

The Oprah Winfrey Show airs in Los Angeles at 3PM on Channel 7. Here is a link with more information.

BTW-
Downtown Minneapolis has two of my favorite restaurants on the road, J.D. Hoyts for steaks, chops, and ribs and Keys for breakfast and the biggest cinnamon buns that I have ever seen. Bon Appetitt!!

LB at the Keys


Keep those questions, comments and emails coming and don’t forget to check out my personal blog www.larrybsports.com.

8/27/08: THINGS ARE LOOKING UP!

I told you there could be big changes coming in Sparksville. They do not get any bigger than Margo Dydek. The Sparks signed the 7-2 center from Poland and hope to have her in L.A. by the weekend. Dydek is the tallest player in the history of the WNBA and she is a big insurance policy for the Sparks now that Christi Thomas is done for the season after knee surgery.

Dydek’s real name is “Malgorzata”, but you can call her Margo. She was born in Warsaw in 1974, and in 1998 Dydek began her WNBA career when the Utah Starzz made her the number one overall pick in the WNBA Draft. She had a baby during the off season, but if Margo can give Lisa 10-15 minutes of breathing time per game, she could become a huge piece to the Sparks’ playoff puzzle.

One thing to look for with Dydek is outside shooting. Despite her size, Margo loves to shoot the 15-17 foot shots. She is also a very good free throw shooter.

CONGRATS TO THE OLYMPIC TRIO

Lisa, CP, and DeLisha came home from Beijing with Olympic gold medals. They did a great job of representing the Sparks, the city of Los Angeles and the USA in the summer Olympics.

If you are suffering from Olympic withdrawal, STAPLES Center is the place to be on Thursday, August 28th. Four Olympians will be on the floor when the Sparks get back to WNBA work hosting Kara Lawson and the Sacramento Monarchs in a 7:30 game.

I hope to see you at STAPLES. If you cannot make it, check out the game on Prime Ticket television. (I’m gonna get dressed up and everything for this one! LOL)

Keep your comments and questions coming to me via e-mail and don’t forget to visit my personal blog page at www.larrybsports.com.

8/21/08: LISA LESLIE FEATURE UPDATE

For some reason, NBC Nightly News bumped the Lisa Leslie feature story that was scheduled to run on Sunday April 17th. I think some swimmer named Phelps and a hurricane named Fay had something to do with it. (Don’t they have priorities at NBC? Lol)

I am told that the piece may run sometime during the Today Show, but you can see it right now on the internet as well as a follow up story that NBC did with me talking about Lisa.

Enjoy!

Lisa Leslie feature

Larry B discusses LL

Don’t forget to check out my personal blog.

8/14/08: SPARKS IN THE BEIJING OLYMPICS

Lobster Tails

NBC Nightly News is scheduled to run a feature story on Lisa Leslie on Sunday night, August 17th. Check your local listings for the time in your area.

The U.S.A. Women’s Olympic Team went 3-0 to start the games in Beijing. The Americans beat the Czech Republic by 40 points, China by 45, and topped Mali 97-41. Those 41 points marked the fewest points ever given up by Team USA in their history of Olympic competition. Lisa Leslie got into the U.S. Olympic record books in that game when she hit all seven of her shots and scored 16 points in just 21 minutes of play.

Lisa and Katie Smith are the captains on this year’s Olympic basketball team. They have both started all three games along with Sue Bird, Tina Thompson, and Diana Taurasi. Lisa is averaging ten points, eight rebounds and 70% from the field. Candace Parker is putting up ten points, four boards and 60% FG shooting off the bench and Delisha Milton-Jones is averaging twelve minutes per game, the fewest on the U.S.A. squad.

While the Sparks terrific trio plays in China, their teammates have been busy back here in L.A. Coop gave his players four days off and then it was back to work with a focus on defense. Penny Toler has not been sitting back with her feet up either. She is always trying to find the perfect pieces that will give the Sparks their best chance to win the WNBA Championship, so don’t be surprised if you see some big changes after the Olympic break. You heard it here first.

The Sparks will get back into WNBA action with three home games August 28 vs. Sac, August 30 vs. San Antonio, and September 1 vs. Minnesota. Those games will have a huge effect on the Sparks success this season.

BTW- I need your help to come up with some really good nicknames for the Sparks players. We all know about Smooth, Silk, and Maverick, but what about the rest of the team? Send me your ideas.

I leave you with some pictures that I took on the Sparks most recent trip to Seattle. It is Pike’s Public Market, one of my favorite spots on the road.

Enjoy!

Veggies and Fruits

7/23/08: 15-12

Larry B at MSGThat record sounds a whole lot better than 14-13 doesn’t it? The Sparks’ overtime win in Minnesota, at the tail end of their “Long and Winding Road Trip”, was an incredible victory. It was so exciting that I thought I might need Dick Cheney’s cardiologist just to get me through the game. That win was a lot more than just a feel good moment though. It closed out the road trip on a winning note, vaulted the Sparks back into third place in the West, and kept the Lynx from grabbing the tie-breaker in the season series between the two teams.

That overtime win came in the very last game of a road trip that started on Wednesday July 16th and ended Sunday July 27th. Needless to say, that victory was absolutely huge for Coop’s Troops. Don’t forget, the Sparks played six games in eleven nights on that trip. We were on the road more than Willie Nelson and the Michelin Man combined. The air travel alone covered more than 5,500 miles and then there were the numerous bus rides, including a late night trip from Uncasville, CT to New York City when the Sparks played a back to back against the Sun and then the Liberty. The highlight of that drive was a midnight stop at Denny’s for some gourmet dining and a 3 A.M. arrival at our Manhattan hotel. Ahh, the glamorous life! Heck! We weren’t in the Big Apple long enough for me to brush up on my jaywalking!

The “L & W Road Trip” was a real challenge for the Sparks. Consider this. The team spent time in three different time zones (somehow we skipped Mountain Time) and a variety of climates. We started with HOT and dry in Phoenix, moved on to hot and HUMID in Houston and got a little taste of muggy, stormy, sticky and rainy before the trip was over in Minneapolis. Sneezy and Dopey were not on the itinerary.

The “L&W Road Trip” was almost two weeks of late nights and early wake up calls. It featured jet lag, strange beds, fast food, multiple airport security checks, trying to grab a few winks in the air or on the road and, of course, washing socks and underwear in the sink to try to stay one step ahead of the Dirty Clothes Demon.

Was the trip successful? Well 2-4 was not what Coop and his coaches were hoping for when the journey began. It beats the heck out of 1-5, but the Sparks hurt themselves on the boards, at the free throw stripe, and in the turnover department again. All of those areas will have to be improved after the Olympic break if the team plans to compete for the WNBA championship.

When the team flew out of Minneapolis on Monday morning, several of us winged our way to LAX, while many of the players took off to their various homes and destinations around the country. Lisa, Delisha, and Candace flew directly to northern California where they began a short training camp with their Olympic teammates. Then, off to China for exhibition games against Australia, Russia, and China, before taking on the world in the Olympic games in Beijing.

Be sure to keep those emails coming and don’t forget to check out my web site www.larrybsports.com

In the next few weeks I am going to need your help with something, so keep checking out this page for more information.

7/23/08: WHAT A GAME!

I told you that the Detroit Shock was the most physical team in the WNBA! That was putting it mildly! Did you think I was kidding?

Mahorn is bigger than most of the balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but he also has a huge heart. He acts big and tough, but Ricky is a pussycat. He is a proud dad who loves his four daughters. I cannot believe that he intentionally shoved Lisa to the deck. I think he was trying to keep players separated. Coop was doing the same thing with Detroit’s players in the middle of the melee, but Mahorn’s sheer size and strength created an incredible mismatch with Leslie. Lisa never had a chance.

I am glad that none of the Sparks got hurt. I feel bad that Cheryl Ford got hurt during the altercation. She was only trying to keep Plenette Pierson from going all the way from crazy to totally insane. Hopefully, Pierson will think twice before she loses her cool and her mind again.

I’ll be honest with you. I do not mind a good fight every once in awhile. I know! The politically correct thing to say is that “there is no place in sports for this kind of activity”. Truth is, the Sparks have been playing soft and getting pushed around for weeks. They were struggling with team chemistry on the court and had not exhibited anything remotely resembling a killer instinct. Tuesday night for a few wild seconds, they pulled together, closed ranks and stood up for each other. You find out who your real friends are when a fight breaks out. There will definitely be suspensions that will hurt the Sparks, but circle July 21st on your 2008 calendar. That just might be the date that the L.A. Sparks became a true team again and serious championship contenders.

Unfortunately, we did not have radio coverage of the Tuesday Night Fights for you, but I’ll be back on AM-1150 Thursday night at 7PM(pt) when the Sparks take on the Lindsay Whalen and the Sun in Connecticut.

Keep those emails coming! I’ll try to answer some of them in this space, later this week. Be sure to check out my personal blog at www.larrybsports.com.

7/21/08: ROAD REPAIR!

The Sparks have really dug a hole for themselves by losing the first two games of this six game road trip. After a strong performance in the win over San Antonio, at STAPLES Center, the Sparks went back to their woeful ways in Phoenix and Houston. Too many turnovers, not enough rebounds (especially on the offensive glass) and a lack of physical play continue to haunt the team. The Sparks will need to fix all those areas if they plan to compete with Detroit on Tuesday night. The Shock is the most physical team in the WNBA and one of the best at taking care of the basketball. Bill Laimbeer’s team is stinging from Sunday’s loss to Sacramento. That was Detroit’s first home loss of the season, so you know that the Shock will be amped up for their showdown with the Sparks, Tuesday night on national television.

No radio for that game, but the Sparks will be back on AM-1150 (Los Angeles) for Thursday night’s match up with the Connecticut Sun. We will be tape delayed, so you’ll be able to catch my play-by-play starting at 7PM (pt). I hope you can tune in.

Keep those emails coming! I’ll try to answer some of them in this space, later this week. Be sure to check out my personal blog at www.larrybsports.com.

7/18/08: HOT STUFF!

There was a HEAT WARNING ADVISORY in effect this morning in Phoenix. The temperature was 90 degrees when I got my 5:45 A.M. wake up call. It was scheduled to be 107 by noontime and close to 112 degrees in mid afternoon.

DeLisha Milton-JonesThere should have been a HEAT ADVISORY Thursday night in U.S. Airways Center because Delisha Milton-Jones was on fire against the Mercury. “D” scored 19 points in the first quarter and she did not miss a shot. She canned all six of her field goal attempts in the quarter including 4 for 4 from long distance and 3 for 3 from the stripe. DM J had a new career high, 27 points, by halftime and finished with 38 points and brand new career highs of 13 fgm and 5- 3pt fgm. DEEEEEEEEEEEE-LIGHTFUL for Delisha, but the Sparks coughed up 23 turnovers to only 10 for Phoenix in that game. The Mercury won the battle of the boards and won the ball game 99-92 to earn a split of the season series.

BTW- The average price for a gallon of gas in the Phoenix area is $4.06 right now. I saw it for as low as $3.99 down there. When we got to Houston this afternoon, I saw one gas station that was selling unleaded regular for $3.85/ gallon. Those were the good old days, weren’t they?

We’ll have Saturday’s game against the Comets for you on radio at AM-1150. Coverage starts at 5:30 (PT) so be sure to tune in. Keep those emails coming too, and don’t forget to check out the Sparks’ audio interviews and highlights that are available at the top of this page.

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD TRIP CONTINUES!

7/14/08: FRESH FISH - ONE NIGHT ONLY

Fresh FishLakers’ guard, Derek Fisher will be working with me tonight on the FSN-Prime Ticket broadcast of the Sparks v. San Antonio game. If you can’t make it to the game at Staples Center, be sure to tune in at 7:30 P.M. (pt) and catch our act on the tube. Our next T.V game on FSN won’t be until after the Olympic break, August 28th to be exact, when the Sparks host the Sacramento Monarchs.

Lisa Leslie and I are scheduled to sign copies of her life story, “DON’T LET THE LIPSTICK FOOL YOU”, after the game. Books have to be purchased at the Team LA Store in Staples Center and I have been informed that there are less than 50 copies available.

7/8/08: I’M SO EXCITED!!

My apologies to Donna Summer, but the Sparks finally won a home game when they beat Phoenix last Sunday night. Okay, they did not win the fourth quarter again, but we are taking things one step at a time right now. Besides, the Merc only outscored L.A. 23-15 in that fourth quarter. In the final quarters of their four home losses, this season, the Sparks had been:

OUTSCORED - 124-59
OUTSHOT - 60%- 30%fg
OUTSCORED - + 16 FT points
OUTSHOT - 10-20- 3PT FG to 3-17- 3PT FG

The Sparks also committed 8 more turnovers than their opponents in the 4th quarters of those losses too. So, you can see why I was excited about the win over Phoenix!

I’M EXCITED II!!!

Lisa Leslie and I will be signing copies of her life story, “DON’T LET THE LIPSTICK FOOL YOU” after Sparks’ home games on Wednesday, July 9th and Monday, July 14th. The signings will be on the court, but here is the catch. We can only autograph books that have been purchased at the LA Team Store at Staples Center and I understand that there will only be 25 copies available for sale on the 9th (vs. Houston) and less than 50 copies available on the 14th(vs. San Antonio). Lisa’s husband, Michael Lockwood, will also be signing his book “Women Have All the Power. Too Bad They Don’t Know It”, which is also on sale at the LA Team Store.

I’M EXCITED III!!!

Hopefully, you noticed something new near the top of this page. Thanks to Chris Forrest (our web guru) we now have Sparks' highlights and interviews available to you. You can check out Lisa’s historic dunk from 2002 and Candace Parker’s two dunks from this season as well as interviews with key players from the Sparks and the WNBA.

I know that a lot of you are at the games when our halftime interviews air on the radio broadcasts on AM-1150. We’ve had some great chats, many of them very enlightening, and now you can hear them right here on the blog page just by making a little click. I think you’ll enjoy them. Let me know.

That is all the excitement I can handle for one day. I’ll be looking for you at the Houston game. If you cannot make it, be sure to tune in for the radio play by play at 7:30PM (pt) or right here on lasparks.com.

My website is www.larrybsports.com. You can read my personal blog there and send me an email, too. Who knows, I may answer it here or read your mail on the air.

7/5/08: CU ON TV!

Hey! If you cannot make it to Sunday night’s game against Phoenix, be sure to tune in FSN-Prime Ticket at 6:30PM. Lakers’ guard, Derek Fisher and I will be calling all the action for you on television.

Larry B & D-FishImmediately following that game, FSN-Prime Ticket will be running the interview that I did with Lisa Leslie for “In My Own Words”. Be sure to check that out and if you are at the game, make sure that you set your Tivo.

Upcoming Sparks’ games on FSN will be:

Monday, July 14th v San Antonio 7:30PM (pt)

Thursday, August 28th v Sacramento 7:30PM

Monday, September 1st v Minnesota 7:30PM

Thursday, September 11th v Atlanta 7:30PM

I hope to see you at every home game. When Sparks’ games are not on FSN or national t.v., you can catch my play-by-play on AM-1150 radio. My website is www.larrybsports.com. You can read my personal blog there and send me an email, too. Who knows, I may answer it here or read your mail on the air.

7/2/08: DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS!

I got my handy-dandy camera out on the Sparks’ most recent trip to San Antonio. Here is a brief pictorial travelogue.

San Antonio is known as “The Alamo City” because The Alamo is in the city and no, you cannot rent cars there.

Alamo
Remember the Alamo & try to forget the Sparks’ 77-75 loss to the Silver Stars!
The Alamo is not the most impressive historical site that I’ve ever seen, but if Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett were willing to fight for the place, it is good enough for me.

San Antonio’s Riverwalk is a hot spot for tourists. The river is lined with shops, bars and restaurants and you can hop on a boat, take the tour, and check it all out without ever getting wet.






Riverwalk
If you aren’t walking, shouldn’t they call it the Riverboat?
San Antonio’s Riverwalk is a hot spot for tourists. The river is lined with shops, bars and restaurants and you can hop on a boat, take the tour, and check it all out without ever getting wet.






By the way, when the boat gets close to the bridge, be sure to...


Ducks
You were way ahead of me on this one, weren’t you?


There is plenty of good Mexican food, barbeque, and beverages along San Antonio’s Riverwalk. I was told that more than a few people have gotten “up close and personal” with the ducks after having a few too many adult beverages. Hey, it’s Texas so you know that you are going to find a wide variety of cowboy hats, boots and western wear. I stayed away from the spurs, but I figured “When in Texas…”


Tex
Just call me Tex!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?














6/22/08: HISTORIC!

1939 - The first U.S. water-ski tournament was held at Jones Beach, on Long Island, New York

1946 - Jet airplanes were used to transport mail for the first time.

1959 - Eddie Lubanski rolled 24 consecutive strikes in a bowling tournament in Miami, FL.

1970 - U.S. President Richard Nixon signed 26th amendment, lowering the voting age to 18.

1990 - Billy Joel became the first rock artist to perform at Yankee Stadium.

2006 - Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” was the #1 song on the Billboard charts

2008- CANDACE PARKER DUNKED AGAINST THE INDIANA FEVER!

In the history of the WNBA, there have only been two dunks during regular season games. They both happened in Staples Center, went into the same basket, were performed by members of the L.A. Sparks, and I got to call them both. Lisa Leslie did it first against the Miami Sol on July 30th, 2002.

Lisa Dunking

WNBA fans voted that event as the “Greatest Milestone” in the league’s first decade. I remember it vividly. In fact, I will never forget it. That image is permanently branded in Lisa’s memory as well. Here is how she described that first dunk in an excerpt from Lisa’s life story “Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You”.

“The Sparks were hosting the Miami Sol and we were trailing 36-25 with 4:44 remaining in the first half. I was mad. We were losing to an expansion team and our team defense was terrible. Miami moved the ball around really well and they seemed to be making every shot, so when Betty Lennox launched a three point shot, it was a bit surprising to see the ball bounce off of the iron and into the hands of my teammate, Latasha Byears. I just reacted and started sprinting down court. Toto turned and tossed the ball. I was just barely across mid-court when I caught the pass. Lennox was chasing me, but there was nobody between me and the basket. I knew that I only needed two or three dribbles to get to there. I was going for it. I was going to dunk! My steps were right, just as they were that rainy day at Morningside when high jump practice was moved into the gym and I worked on my approach, kicked into gear and dunked that tennis ball. On this night, I went up and I dunked it Hard! I was happy that it was not some wimpy “I just barely pushed it in” kind of dunk. It was not like my fingernail just barely made it over the rim. There was no question about it. This was a quality dunk. People were not sitting there wondering, ‘Did she try to dunk?’ They knew it and I knew it. I clearly dunked the ball. The rim snapped down and popped back. Everybody saw it!

The television audience on Fox Sports Net saw it and heard Larry Burnett’s play-by-play call that went, ‘Byears gets it up to Leslie. What's she going to do? SHE DUNKED IT! For the first time in WNBA history. It's Lisa Leslie with the dunk. She did it in practice, at the All-Star game and now, for the first time in WNBA history, a player has dunked in a WNBA game. Nobody, nowhere, no how had ever done it...’

My reaction was amazement. I threw my hands up in the air and started running back down court. I was thinking, ‘I did it!’ Usually, during a game, I don’t hear much crowd reaction because I am so totally focused, but after I dunked, the noise was incredible. ‘Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!’ Everybody in the arena was up. They had seen a little piece of history and I could definitely hear them. The fans were in shock. The Sparks were in shock and so was the Miami Sol.

Sparks’ head coach, Michael Cooper was jumping up and down when he saw the dunk. Coop had seen his share of great dunks while he was with the Lakers, but he was really excited to see me slam one down and make some WNBA history. My coach said, ‘It was surreal because they say women can’t get over the rim like that, but she put that one in. It didn’t go in by a hair or a fingernail. It didn’t go in clanking off the rim. She dunked the basketball like a true pro is supposed to do.’

The accolades were wonderful but the terrible thing was that we lost the game 82-73 to an expansion team. The dunk also brought with it a burning question. The ball had barely dropped through the net when people started asking me, ‘When are you going to do it again?’

I think as we progress you are going to see more women trying to dunk. We are realizing more and more that it is appealing to some of our fans and viewers. Maybe sometime soon, we’ll be able to name ten players in the WNBA who can dunk and create that kind of excitement. We are not there yet, but I truly believe that time will come. It is not easy to do. Let’s face it. Men jump higher than women. That’s a fact, but Candace Parker, Deanna Nolan, Margo Dydek and Michelle Snow can dunk. Hopefully, I can put down a few more before I retire.” From “Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You”

Congratulations to Candace Parker. She joined a very elite club on Sunday night, June 22, 2008 and at least for now, L.A. Sparks are the only members in the WNDA- Women’s’ National Dunk Association. In case you missed my call of CP’s dunk, it went like this on AM-1150 in Los Angeles.

“Rebound tipped out- Parker on the run. Are we going to get a dunk here? YES, SHE DID IT! SHE DID IT WITH 29.5 SECONDS LEFT!! Lisa Leslie did it first. Candace Parker did it second. The Sparks own the dunks in the WNBA!”

It was an exciting evening and unlike Lisa’s historic dunk night, the Sparks won the game.

Hey, Delisha Milton-Jones can dunk too. Maybe the Sparks can have a "dunkin trio" before the 2008 season ends.

I hope to see you at every home game, too. If you can’t make it to Staples Center, be sure to catch my play-by-play on AM-1150 radio. My website is www.larrybsports.com. You can read my personal blog there and send me an email, too. Who knows, I may answer it here or read your mail on the air.

6/16/08: WOW!

That is all that I can say. WOW!

The Sparks win at Sacramento Saturday night was on of the gutsiest comebacks that I have ever seen, and I have seen more than a few in my twelve years with the team. Coop’s Troops couldn’t do anything right in the first half at Arco Arena and that was a shame because a busload of Spark’s fans had driven all the way to the state capitol, Saturday morning, to see their team perform.

There were close to 50 fans that made the trip and almost every one of them was standing up in that arena until the Sparks scored their first basket against the Monarchs. (Sparks’ owners Carla Christofferson and Kathy Goodman started that new tradition at this year’s home opener, but I did not realize that it covered road games, too.) Apparently it does because these die-hard fans stood and stood and stood for 6:30 (not including the time out) until Delisha finally canned a three point shot with 4:30 seconds left in the first quarter. By that time, the Sparks were already trailing 12-3. Turnovers were killing the team and the Monarchs just kept marching to the free throw line (in the words of Cyndi Lauper) “time after time”. Sac stretched its lead to 17 points in that awful first half and the Sparks seemed doomed.

The second half was a completely different story though. Heck, it was a completely different book- a totally different library! The Sparks defense kicked in and that forced Sac to miss all 15 of its shots in the third quarter. Purple Pride outscored the Monarchs 21-5 and when Raffaella Masciadri (Mosh) nailed a three pointer with 33 seconds left in the third, the Sparks had their first lead of the night. (Thankfully, the Sparks faithful did not have to stand until that happened.(An emergency call to Dr. Scholl’s would have been necessary.) L.A. totally dominated Sacramento in the second half, outscored the Monarchs 43-22 after intermission, and won the game 74-66. It was a tremendous effort, an amazing comeback and a major coup! The Monarchy was overthrown. Sparks ruled!

The Sparks’ players were exuberant after the game and that feeling continued when we all got back to the team hotel on Saturday night. Those wonderful “Road Trip Sparks’ fans” were there waiting for us. They had packed the lobby and when the team came through the doors, cheers went up, cameras flashed, and the place went wild. You would have thought that we had cured cancer, ended the war, or at least trimmed gas prices a dollar or two. What a great feeling! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that fans don’t make a difference. That was a night and a trip that none of us will forget.

It was nice to meet, and get a chance to chat with, so many of you. Let’s do it again real soon. In fact, the Sparks have a road trip scheduled for Seattle on July 12th. (you get to fly in a plane and everything). Let’s make it a date in the Emerald City!

I hope to see you at every home game, too. If you can’t make it to Staples Center, be sure to catch my play-by-play on AM-1150 radio. My website is www.larrybsports.com. You can read my personal blog there and send me an email, too. Who knows, I may answer it here or read your mail on the air.

6/12/08: LARRY B-MAILS

Here are some of the emails that I got from Sparks' fans recently. I answered some on our Sparks' radio broadcasts and I'll answer some here too, so keep your letters coming my way. There was a strong Sidney Spencer theme to a lot of your emails this week.

From: Debra

"So what's your take on why Sidney is all of a sudden persona non gratis ??? She was fantastic last year? we are huge fans of SS and are very disappointed in how she is being apparently neglected, disciplined or something, traded?? ...."

From: Sidney's Biggest Fan

"I really want to know why Sidney is not playing much! As a top scorer as a rookie and being a second round pick she should be playing more! When she does play long enough she's really good and could help the team a lot but she doesn't get to play enough to show everyone that!"

From: Debbie in Hoover

"O.K. what is going on? Why is Coach not playing Sidney. It seems that he is putting all his “eggs in one basket” or should I say about 3 baskets? In light of some losses that should not have happened, he could have used some help!"

LARRY'S TAKE

I really thought this was going to be a banner year for Sidney Spencer and I still do. She was one of the Sparks' few bright spots last year as a rookie. She was also one of the WNBA's top three-point shooters despite the fact that the Sparks did not have a strong inside game to help her out.

This year, the Sparks have the best front line in the league with Lisa, Delisha, and Candace. Opponents have to pay a lot of attention to that strong inside game which means there should be lots of open perimeter shots for Sid. When she has gotten playing time, S.S. has been productive.

I know that Coach Cooper is trying to find ways to get Sidney into games when the matchups are right. I do think her time will come and I do think that Sidney will be a strong contributor when she gets opportunities.

Trade bait? I don't think so, but I guarantee that just about every team in the WNBA would love to have a Sidney Spencer on their roster.

Thanks for the mail. Remember, if you can’t make it to the Sparks' games, you can catch my play by play call on AM-1150 radio. Be sure to check out my website www.larrybsports.com where you can read my personal blog, send me an email and tell me what’s on your mind. Who knows, maybe I’ll read your mail on the air.

6/10: 1ST IMPRESSIONS/ 2ND CHANCES

About ten minutes after the crowd had filed out of Staples Center last Friday night following the Sparks loss to Phoenix, a loud noise blasted through the building. I had just closed out my radio post game show on AM-1150 and I jumped. It sounded like a gun shot. I guess I probably should have ducked, but when I turned and looked up, purple and gold streamers were raining down from the rafters. You know, the ones that are supposed to land on your head when the Sparks win a game. Something had triggered their release and thousands of streamers trickled down into the empty arena. That’s the kind of night it was. Not only did the Sparks blow an 18point lead in their home opener and lose to the Mercury, they got outscored 32-10 in the fourth quarter in front of a sellout crowd. More than 11,000 excited fans had been in the house. I’m sure many had never been to a WNBA game before, but they wanted to see Lisa and Candace and the highly talented, highly touted Sparks. What they saw was a colossal collapse.

I felt badly for Spark’s owners Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson who have done everything humanly possible to make the Sparks’ successful and community friendly. I felt badly for all the folks in the Sparks’ organization who had worked so hard to make Opening Night 2008 a very special occasion. The city was buzzing about the Sparks as the home opener got closer and the media coverage was the most that I had seen since the championship years. The table was set, but dinner was a disaster.

I do not feel badly for the Sparks’ players. They jumped out to a lead, got sloppy, and let it slip away just as they did in Chicago last week. They set a trend on the road and brought it home with them, only this time, the Sparks did not have an overtime period in which to squeak out a win. That habit has got to stop if this team has any hopes of being a championship contender. Now, the Sparks can only hope that the city gets hungry for another taste of WNBA basketball real soon. I know that the core nucleus of Sparks’ fans will keep showing up. I just wonder about the others? Was the golden opportunity, lost?

Come back to high school with me for one more perspective on that disappointing home opener. It was a lot like finally getting a date with the captain of the cheerleading squad or the quarterback of the football team. You know, the one that you thought would never give you a second glance. Somehow, fate stepped in one day and the stars aligned just right. You connected and he/she agreed to go out on a date. You were thrilled, excited and expecting the best night of your life. Your time had finally come. In your mind, from that point on there would be nothing but bliss and “happily ever afters”, but when you met your future soul mate at the door, your heart started pounding! You began to sweat! You got light headed, woozy, and threw up on your date’s shoes. To say the least, it was embarrassing. Things definitely did not go the way you had planned, but hopefully your date had compassion and more than one pair of shoes. Hopefully you had a mint or a piece of gum to help get that terrible taste out of your mouth. Hopefully, that person that you wanted to impress so much, would give you a second chance.

Right now I am offering a “virtual mint” to every person who was in attendance at Staples Center on opening night. I want you get a fresh taste in your mouth, get your hunger back for WNBA basketball, and give the L.A. Sparks a second chance. They deserve it and while I cannot guarantee that they won’t blow any more leads or lose any more games, I feel safe is saying that you won’t need to bring a spare pair of shoes to Staples Center.

The Sparks next home game is Wednesday night, June 11th, at 7:30PM. Bill Laimbeer, Katie Smith, Cheryl Ford and the Detroit Shock will be at Staples Center and I hope you will be there too.

If you can’t make it to the game, catch it on AM-1150 radio and be sure to check out my website www.larrybsports.com where you can read my personal blog, send me an email and tell me what’s on your mind. Who knows, maybe I’ll read your mail on the air.

6/6: HOMECOMING

Five games on the road to start the season and a 4-1 record coming back to L.A. for the Sparks’ home opener against Phoenix on Friday night? Pretty darn good if you ask me, but if you ask me twice, I’ll tell you that the Sparks should be 5-0 right now. They let a great comeback in Indiana go to waste and wound up losing to the Fever in double overtime.

At times this season, the Sparks have been their own worst enemies. They get complacent when the team has a big lead and opponents take advantage. That’s what happened in the Chicago game. The Sparks blew big leads twice in that game and barely squeezed out a win in overtime. Believe me, 3-2 coming off a loss to the Sky is a world apart from going into the home opener at 4-1 and coming off of a victory.

TECHNICAL FOWLES

Sky head coach, Steven Key, told me before the Chicago game that if the Sky had gotten the #1 pick in the 2008 draft, they probably would have taken Candace Parker. Pretty smart when you consider that the rookie is a great player, grew up in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, and helped fill the house at the UIC Pavilion last Tuesday to give Chicago its first WNBA sellout.

Coach Key also told me that while the Sky really liked Parker in the draft, they felt they got the exact player that Chicago needed with the #2 pick, Sylvia Fowles. The Sky needed an inside presence, tough defense, solid shot blocking, and strong rebounding and Fowles was giving them all of that until she got hurt in the third quarter of the game against the Sparks. Fowles went up to block a shot and came down hard on her left leg. Her right leg jammed into the basket standard and she went down hard. An MRI showed a sprained left knee and Fowles is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. The Sky just signed Tye’sha Fluker, the former Spark who was in training camp with L.A. this year, to add another big to their roster.

BTW- Fowles was selected to play for the U.S. Olympic team in Beijing. Coach Key told me that some Olympians might be off their game a bit when they return to the WNBA in September, but he expects Fowles to be an even better player because of all that she will learn from playing on Team USA with Lisa Leslie.

See you at the home opener 7:30 P.M. on Friday night. If you can’t make it to the game, catch it on AM-1150 radio and be sure to check out my website www.larrybsports.com where you can read my personal blog, send me an email and tell me what’s on your mind. Who knows, maybe I’ll read your mail on the air.

6/2: CARDIAC ARREST

The Sparks have certainly made their recent games very interesting. A little bit tough on the old ticker, but interesting just the same. First, the big comeback at Indy only to fall short in double OT. Then, blowing the big lead in Washington but persevering to get the victory.

PARKER ROLLS

Tuesday night here in Chicago, it will be another test and a great rookie match up featuring Candace Parker and Sylvia Fowles, the top two picks in the 2008 WNBA draft. Parker was born in St. Louis, but she grew up in Naperville, Illinois, a little more than 30 miles west of Chicago, so this is a home coming for her.

When Candace played at Naperville Central High School, she led the Redhawks to back-to-back state championships. She was Illinois’ Player of the Year three consecutive seasons and was named to the All State first team in all four of her high school seasons. Candace also became the only junior to win the Naismith and Gatorade Prep Player of the Year Awards and she earned USA Today’s National Prep Player of the Year honor in 2003 and 04. Pretty darn impressive Parker!

BRIDGE & TRUMP CARDS

BTW- We’ve got a great view of the Chicago River from the Sparks’ hotel in the Windy City. Windy? The weather has been great and I’ve seen water taxis, sight seeing boats, pleasure crafts, and kayaks going up and down the river. When the larger boats are out, the drawbridges go up. Chicago has more than 40 movable bridges. That’s more than any other city in the world.

BTW#2- Donald Trump’s International Hotel and Tower is still under construction in the Chicago River area. When it is finished, the building will stand 92 floors and more than 1300 feet high. Penthouses will sell for between $3.4 million and $9.6 million.

5/29: OOH BABY, BABY!

Lisa’s baby, Lauren Jolie, is with her mom on the Sparks’ current road trip. It is fun to watch long, tall Lisa with her little bitty baby. Hard to believe that Lauren will be one year old next month. That little bundle is turning into a real person right before our eyes.

Lauren wasn’t the only baby on the Sparks’ flight from LAX to Indy. In fact, there was an all out baby boom on our plane. There was a baby behind me and three more in the aisles across from my row. Most of us dread seeing a baby coming our way when we are settling in for a long flight. I started thinking about the old W.C. Fields quote, “Children should never be seen or heard from, ever again”, but except for a few high decibel outbursts, the kids were pretty good on the four hour journey. There were not any real tantrums or ear drum shattering screams, so I considered myself very lucky.

Heck, even W.C. Fields had to eventually admit that he “liked children… if they were properly cooked.” I’m sure he was kidding. Okay, I think W.C. was kidding. Hey, we were all kids at one time, weren’t we? Thankfully, some of us still are.

That’s the latest word from the road. If you want to send your comments or questions to me, just go to my web site www.larrybsports.com , click “e-mail” and fire away.

5/26: LARRY’S BLOG

I know it’s early in the season, but there is something about this L.A. Sparks team. They’ve got talent. That’s for sure. Lisa is one of the greatest players in the history of women’s basketball and she is back from maternity leave and playing with a passion. Candace Parker has more game in her rookie season than Lisa had when she helped start the league back in 1997. It’s true and Lisa readily admits it. Leslie is going to make Parker an even better player and Candace is going to push Lisa as well. That’s good news because together, they could be darn near unstoppable. When you add DeLisha Milton-Jones (it is so good to have her smile back in Sparksville) to the mix, Coop can put a front line on the floor each game that should be unequalled by any team, anywhere in the WNBA.

Their versatility is incredible. Every one of them can shoot, defend, and drive to the basket and Lisa, D, and CP can each rebound and bring the ball up court. Candace excels at that, has no qualms about running the point on breaks, and she is Silky Smooth. Collectively, their individual defense and “help defense” should be phenomenal. Don’t forget that Delisha is still the long arm of the law with that 84- inch wingspan of hers. Opponents who bring it into the DMZ (Delisha Milton Zone) do so at the risk of getting a round ball facial.

The great teams have more than talent, though. They have cohesiveness, coaching, and chemistry. This Sparks’ team seems to have it. The players get along and the coaching staff is strong. Coop knows when to push the right buttons. He makes the game fun, but he makes certain that it gets played the right way. Newcomer Laura Beeman is solid and it is terrific to see Hall of Famer, Marianne Stanley back on the staff again. The Sparks’ organization has just one focus and that is winning the WNBA Championship. Keep your fingers crossed because if this team stays healthy, they just might do it. How does “worst to first” sound to you?

I’ve got lots more to tell you about and I’ll be traveling with the team and bloggin all season long. Don’t forget to check out my Sparks’ radio broadcasts on KTLK-AM-1150. Several of the weekday games are going to be tape delayed, so you may have to wait a bit for your Sparks’ fix, but it will be well worth waiting for. We’ve also got six television games on FSN & FSN Prime Ticket this season. Lakers’ guard Derek Fisher will be working with me for those games on the tube.

Enough from me for now! I want to hear what you think about the L.A. Sparks, so go to my website www.larrybsports.com , send me an email and tell me what’s on your mind. Check out my personal blog, too. Who knows, maybe I’ll read your email on the air.

I’ll be looking for you in the radio.

4/28: LISA'S BOOK

Don't Let the Lipstick Fool YouI am really pleased with the way that 'Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You' turned out. Lisa's story is even more fascinating than I imagined when we started the project. There is plenty of basketball in the book, but the thing I am most pleased about is that 'Lipstick' is so much more than just a book about basketball. 'Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You' also includes truck driving, self esteem issues, fighting, goal setting, racism, recruiting wars, professional modeling, an Olympic bombing, faith, international travel, stolen identity, jet fighters, skinny-dipping, motherhood, and Lisa meeting the man of her dreams by giving her phone number to a complete stranger.

Lisa is a very special lady and her story is compelling and inspiring. I hope you enjoy reading 'Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You' as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Available in book stores April 29th OR available now at Amazon.com

Thank You