Sparks Sign Olympian & WNBA Veteran Tina Thompson

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Los Angeles Sparks announced today that they have signed WNBA veteran, two-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time WNBA Champion Tina Thompson.

Thompson has spent her entire 12-year WNBA career with the Houston Comets leading them to the first four WNBA Championships in league history. Averaging 16.3 points and 6.7 rebounds for her career, Thompson had another stellar season in 2008, in which she won her second Olympic gold medal in Beijing and led the Comets in scoring (18.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg).

"We are ecstatic about adding a player of Tina's caliber and talent to our roster," said Sparks Head Coach Michael Cooper. "She can dominate on both ends of the floor and will be an integral piece of the puzzle as we look to win another Championship."

A five-time All-Star and MVP of the 2000 All-Star game, Thompson has been named to the All-WNBA First Team three times (1997, 1998, 2004) and the All-WNBA Second Team five times (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007). Ranking second on the WNBA all-time scoring list, she surpassed the 5,000 point mark on June 5, 2008 and now has 5,424 career points.

"I'm excited to be back in Los Angeles because it's home," said Tina Thompson. "I've been away from home for a long time and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to play in front of my family and friends again. This is where basketball started for me."

Originally selected #1 overall in the inaugural WNBA Draft by the Houston Comets in 1997, Thompson has become one of the faces of the WNBA and a legend in her own right. Thompson has averaged double figures in points in each of her 12 WNBA seasons as well as averaged 12.8 ppg over five All-Star game appearances. In 2008, she ranked in the top 10 in the WNBA in 13 categories including 1st in minutes/game, 5th in points/game and 6th in defensive rebounds/game.

A native of Los Angeles, CA, Thompson played high-school basketball at Morningside High before playing four years at the University of Southern California where she was selected to the 1997 Kodak District VIII All-American Team as well as the All Pac-10 First Team. She finished her career as the Pac-10's third leading scorer (2,248), second leading rebounder (1,168) and was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 1994.

With the signing of Thompson, the Sparks now have four Olympians on their roster. The Sparks current roster owns nine Olympic gold medals, four WNBA MVP awards, the first 6 WNBA Championships and 21 All-Star selections.

"I've always been a big fan of Tina's going back to her days here at USC," said Earvin "Magic" Johnson. "She's a great woman on and off the court, at the same time a great mother as well. With her championship experience down in Houston, she has what it takes to help Lisa, Coop and the Sparks bring a championship back to L.A. And, I am honored that she will be wearing my old #32 in the purple and gold."

Thompson will wear #32, in honor of Johnson, when the Sparks open the 2009 WNBA season on June 6th at the STAPLES Center against the defending WNBA Champion Detroit Shock at 11:30am. For information on how you can secure your Sparks season tickets call 877-44-SPARKS or visit www.lasparks.com.

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