A ceremony on Friday in Springfield, Mass., will officially immortalize Lisa Leslie as a Basketball Hall of Famer.
But the charismatic, 6-foot-5 center cemented her legacy long before 2015 with one of the most decorated careers ever to play out on the hardwood.
As Leslie awaits enshrinement as the third WNBA player ever to reach the Hall, here are the five things you need to know about her Hall-of-Fame career:
PHOTOS: Lisa Leslie Through the Years
Above all else, she was a winner.
The Hall of Fame is typically reserved for winners, and Leslie has one of the most packed trophy cases you’ll find. A quick rundown of (most of) her resume:
- Four-time Olympic gold medalist
- Two-time WNBA champion
- Three-time WNBA MVP
- Eight-time WNBA All-Star
- Four-time NCAA All-American
- 1991 National Freshman of the Year
- 1994 National Player of the Year
She rose to fame on the iconic 1996 Olympic team.
What the Dream Team did for basketball internationally, the 1996 U.S. women’s national team did for women’s basketball. Leslie — along with fellow superstars Rebecca Lobo and Sheryl Swoopes, among others — showed the world how women could play the game as the team captured gold, winning its eight games by an average of nearly 30 points.
But she first made headlines by scoring 101 points in one half.
Leslie was famously a reluctant basketball player, not focusing on the court until middle school. By her senior year at Inglewood Morningside High School, she was dominant to the point of unfairness, in some eyes.
On Feb. 7, 1990, Leslie scored 101 points in 16 minutes before the game was called at halftime because the opponent, South Torrance, refused to play. That left her four points short of Cheryl Miller’s national record of 105 (a record current New York Liberty guard Epiphanny Prince broke with 113 points for Murry Bergtraum in 2006).
Morningside won, 102-24, and Leslie finished 37-of-56 from the field and 27-of-35 from the foul line. Click here to read the L.A. Times story from the next day’s paper.
She’s an original member of the WNBA.
The momentum of that Olympic run helped launch the WNBA in 1997, and Leslie, Lobo and Swoopes were the first three players to come on board in the new league.
On July 21, 1997, Leslie led her hometown Sparks into the inaugural game against the New York Liberty, even winning the opening tip at center court of the Forum, near where she grew up.
On July 30, 2002, she became the first player to dunk in a WNBA game. She later became the first player to reach 4,000 career points, then 6,000, and she remains the all-time leading rebounder (3,307).
She was and is a star off the court, too.
Even as a six-foot sixth-grader, Leslie wanted to be a TV weather reporter, she has said. And even as she became one of women’s basketball’s greatest players, Leslie shined in other areas.
She remains a fashion model, having been featured on Vogue and Newsweek, and actress, having guest starred in Think Like A Man and numerous television shows and commercials, while serving as a guest commentator on ABC7 Eyewitness News in Los Angeles.