Lisa Leslie received two championships, three MVP awards and two Defensive Participant of the 12 months honors with the Los Angeles Sparks from 1997 to 2009. Her introduction to basketball, nonetheless, was tumultuous.
“I used to be the one left-handed participant in my faculty coaching, so I made a decision to be taught with my proper hand as properly. I didn’t understand back then how special I was“.
Leslie additionally opened up concerning the points she confronted as the one lady performing with a bunch of boys.
“They did not cross me for some time, I imagine for 2 or three video games at the least. However they did not know what my expertise had been. I used to be 6ft 5in tall, taller than anybody else .I used to be by no means born to slot in, I used to be born to face out.
“In the future I stole the ball on a cross supposed for a crew mate and scored. By the point I had performed a number of performs the group was shouting ‘give it to the lady’ as a result of I might truly rating the basket higher than the boys. So issues modified shortly.
“We ended up shedding the championship that yr. It was the primary time I had actually suffered a defeat. However I knew I liked taking part in and it did not matter if I performed with boys or women. I used to be fell in love with the sport.”
This led her to grow to be a outstanding determine on the College of Southern California girls’s basketball crew, with which she received the 1994 Participant of the 12 months trophy.
Leslie additionally acquired All-American honors for 1992, 1993, and 1994, setting convention information for targets, rebounds, and blocked photographs. She additionally grew to become the primary participant to make an all-conference first crew in every of her 4 years, incomes a bachelor’s diploma in communications.
On the time, there was no alternative for girls to play skilled basketball in the US. So, like many different faculty stars, Leslie signed with a European girls’s skilled league crew. She joined Sicilgesso, primarily based in Alcamo, Italy, for the 1994-95 season.
“Having the chance to play abroad is wonderful as a result of not everybody could make it to the NBA or the WNBA. I am joyful to have had the possibility to play in Italy and meet wonderful individuals. Studying this basketball allowed me to journey the world so I by no means have any regrets”.
When the WNBA was created in the summertime of 1997, Leslie, together with Sheryl Swoopes and Rebecca Lobo, grew to become the face of the brand new league. Leslie anchored his hometown team, the Sparks.
“I am actually joyful that the WNBA began in 1997. I am joyful that we had the platform to be function fashions for the remainder of the world. The WNBA had one of the best gamers on the earth then and now we’re showcasing that very same expertise.
“That is the fantastic thing about it, we have been in a position to develop this sport, he is 26, however we’re grateful to David Stern for permitting us to try this.”
Leslie additionally had extra to say concerning the work the NBA is doing alongside the WNBA.
“The WNBA and the NBA have come collectively so properly, we’re a power,” she mentioned. “We’re discovering extra methods to be inclusive with girls, we’re seeing girls who performed within the WNBA now working within the NBA, on the benches.
“Possibly in 5 or eight years there will likely be younger women who will decide up the ball as soon as we depart, proceed to hone their expertise and hopefully make it to the WNBA. The sky is the restrict. “
Leslie now operates as considered one of solely two feminine head coaches within the males’s professional recreation, main the hat-tricks within the BIG3 professional league.
She added Coach of the 12 months to her record of accolades after her first-ever season on the bench in 2019, and had this to say concerning the marketing campaign forward: “As a coach, I am at all times enthusiastic about successful the championship. The participant who can assist me do that’s Joe Johnson, so I hope he comes again to affix us.
“However total it is BIG3, there’s a lot expertise, each crew is competing. There is no weekend the place you’ll be able to take off since you by no means know who’s going to win. It’s extremely troublesome to foretell who would be the greatest, however Group Triplets will likely be on high!”
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