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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Lisa Leslie Becomes Co-Owner of Los Angeles Sparks

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Photo Caption: Lisa Leslie being honored as one of the WNBA’s Top 15 players of all-time at a ceremony during the league’s All-Star Game on July 23, 2011 in San Antonio, TX. Leslie added another “first” to her storied career this summer when, during a halftime ceremony in the Los Angeles Sparks’ home game against Tulsa on Friday, August 26, the team’s majority owner Paula Madison announced that Leslie had joined the team’s ownership group. The move makes her the first former WNBA player in the league’s history to invest in a team.

Photo Credit: Full Court Press/Lee Michaelson©

By Lee Michaelson

Lisa Leslie has become an owner of the WNBA team she helped to launch, the Los Angeles Sparks announced at halftime of Friday night’s game against the Tulsa Shock.

At the conclusion of a halftime ceremony honoring three women—award-winning theatre director Debbie Devine, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry, and Shaun Robinson, co-anchor of “Access Hollywood”—with the team’s 2011 Lisa Leslie Inspiring Women Award, Leslie remained on the court that bears her name, with her retired No. 9 jersey hanging above her from the rafters of STAPLES Center, as Paula Madison, chairperson of the ownership group that owns the Sparks, announced that Leslie would be joining the group as a member of the management team.

“Lisa has always been a member of the Sparks Family, and we’re elated to welcome her as a team investor,” said Madison. “Beyond her accomplishments on the court, Lisa is a savvy businesswoman and the epitome of grace and class.”

“With my investment in the Sparks, my basketball career has truly come full-circle,” said Leslie. “After spending over a decade playing with the Sparks, and then the last two seasons as both a fan and team broadcaster, I couldn’t be happier to rejoin the organization formally as a business partner and team ambassador. I look forward to being an asset to the Sparks in the areas of marketing and community outreach.”

Asked whether Leslie would be given a job title or any specific responsibilities, a Sparks spokesman responded in the negative. “She’s an investor, and a member of the ownership group,” said Ben Alkaly.

Williams, a former NBC Universal and KNBC TV executive, began investing in the Sparks in 2007 and is now the majority owner of the team through her family investment company Williams Group Holdings. The Sparks ownership group also includes board members Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson, minority owners of the team, whose limited liability company Gemini Basketball LLC purchased the Sparks from Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss at the end of the 2006 season, and now Leslie.

Her investment makes Leslie the first former Women’s National Basketball Association player to invest in a team in the league’s 15-year history. A native of Inglewood, California and All-American at the University of Southern California, Leslie was one of the keystone players of the league when it began in 1997. She spent her entire WNBA career in Los Angeles, starring for the Sparks for 12 seasons from 1997 until her retirement at the end of the 2009 season. During that time, Leslie led L.A. to back-to-back WNBA championships in 2001 and 2002 and earned three league MVP awards. Internationally, Leslie has won four Olympic gold medals as a member of the U.S. Senior Women’s National Team.

On June 23, 2006, the Sparks home court at STAPLES Center was re-named “Lisa Leslie Court,” and in an August 10, 2010 ceremony, Leslie’s No. 9 jersey was formally retired. Since her retirement from the WNBA as a player, and, at that time, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, Leslie has remained active with her personal business opportunities such as securing the WNBA’s marketing and licensing partnership with CieAura, a producer of holographic chips claiming a variety of health benefits. She also serves as a spokesperson for the WNBA’s “Vaccine for Teens” campaign, among her involvements with other charitable initiatives, and, with her family, is a regular fixture at Sparks games and other WNBA events.

“Congratulations to Lisa Leslie on joining the Los Angeles Sparks ownership group,” said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie in a written statement released by the Sparks. “She is a trailblazing ambassador with a long legacy of being a role model for the WNBA both on and off the court. She achieves another first by joining the ownership group of the L.A. Sparks and we know she will do great work in this role.”


Originally published Fri, August 26, 2011

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
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13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.