Lisa Leslie Announces Retirement

Legendary Center to Retire at End of 2009 Season

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Regarded throughout her career as the face of the WNBA and the most dominant player in women's basketball, Sparks center Lisa Leslie has announced her retirement at the end of the 2009 WNBA season.  Fittingly, the announcement comes on the 23rd annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day.  Leslie is the embodiment of what the day represents for female athletes nationwide. 

Leslie, 36, was the first Los Angeles Sparks player to be placed with the franchise in the 1997 Initial Player Allocation and will finish her career as the Sparks and WNBA career leader in points and rebounds.  Currently, Leslie has accumulated 5,909 points and 3,156 rebounds.  At the conclusion of the 2009 season, Leslie will have a WNBA and an international career that spanned more than 15 years.

"I'm really excited about the next chapter of my life.  I've been on an amazing journey, that isn't over yet, and feel blessed to have been able to play the sport that I love.  My goal has been to bring people together and bring smiles to their faces.  I've had the opportunity to do that.  I'm happy to have the opportunity and platform to be a role model to boys and girls and I hope to continue to be a role model in the future," said Leslie.

Leslie has logged more than 10,000 minutes throughout her career while averaging 17.4 points per game and grabbing an average of 9.3 rebounds per contest. As the most decorated player in WNBA history, she has earned three WNBA MVP awards, two WNBA Finals MVP awards, two Defensive Player of the Year awards, eight 1st Team All-WNBA selections, three WNBA All-Star MVP awards, was named to the WNBA All-Decade Team and has been selected Player of the Week a league best 15 times.  She was also honored in 2001 as the recipient of the prestigious Flo Hyman Memorial Award by the Women's Sports Foundation and the 2006 Sportswoman of the Year award by the Los Angeles Sports Council.  She became the first player in WNBA history to record 5,000 points in 2006 and the Sparks home court was renamed "Lisa Leslie Court" in her honor. 

"No one player has been as dominant in all aspects of women's basketball for as long as Lisa Leslie--she has achieved just about everything there is to achieve in the sport. Carla and I feel fortunate to have been able to be a part of Lisa's basketball journey, and we know her legacy of dedication and achievement will always remain a part of the Sparks organization," said Sparks Co-owner Kathy Goodman.

In Olympic play, Leslie is second to none.  As the floor leader and mentor to Team USA, Leslie finished with a 32-0 record in Olympic competition and is the first female basketball player to win four consecutive gold medals, (1996, 2000, 2004 & 2008).  She closed out her fourth Olympic competition ranking as the USA's all-time leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker after compiling 488 points, 241 rebounds and 36 blocked shots in four Olympic Games, while ranking fourth in assists (45) and sixth in steals (35). She has also been honored as the 2002 FIBA World Championship MVP and the 1993, 1998 and 2002 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.

A Los Angeles product and graduate of Morningside High School, Leslie had an outstanding career at the University of Southern California where she played in a total of 120 college games, averaging 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds.  She set the PAC-10 conference records for scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots accumulating 2,414 points, 1,214 boards, and 321 blocked shots.   She also holds the USC single season record for blocked shots in a single season (95).

During her college career, USC compiled an impressive 89-31 record.  They won one PAC -10 conference championship and earned four NCAA tournament appearances.  She was honored with All PAC-10 recognition all four years, as well as becoming the first player in PAC-10 history to obtain first team recognition all four years and earn the prestigious Rookie of the Year award in 1991.

She was also honored on the national platform by being named the National Freshman of the Year in 1991 and earned recognition as the nation's best female basketball player winning the National Player of the Year in 1994. In 1992, 93, and 94, she earned All-American Honors as well.

In 2005, she was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame and in 2006 had her jersey retired at the Galen Center on USC's campus.

In honor of Lisa Leslie's final season, the Sparks invite the Los Angeles community to be a part of Lisa's Legacy.   To pay tribute to a legendary career, fans will have an opportunity to celebrate her last season by purchasing a season ticket for $99 in Lisa's Legacy section of STAPLES Center.  Fans will enjoy and savor every tribute, salute and moment of #9's last season in 2009 at a big savings, as Leslie would like to make it affordable for every Angeleno to be there.  As part of the launch of "Lisa's Legacy," the William Morris Agency, WNBA Cares & Coca-Cola Inc. have purchased 25 packages each for Los Angeles area youth to have the chance to experience history.  For more information on the "Lisa's Legacy" Ticket Package visit www.lasparks.com or call 877-44-SPARKS.

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