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The Los Angeles Sparks start the Magic Johnson Era with a preseason matinee against the Chinese women's national team.
With the possibility of Donald Sterling being forced to sale the L.A. Clippers, NBA legend and L.A. Sparks owner Magic Johnson is reportedly interested in purchasing the franchise.
With the 35th pick in the WNBA Draft, the L.A. Sparks selected Louisville's Antonita Slaughter.
I mentioned her briefly after the NCAA Tournament here:
I'm not sure where Slaughter might rank among WNBA general managers, but she did shoot 12-for-25 from the three point line beyond the arc during Louisville's tournament run and Lisa Leslie has compared her style of play to that of Tina Thompson. Three point shooter prospects don't have a great track record in the WNBA, but Slaughter has the size that might get her a look.
The L.A. Sparks have selected BYU's Jennifer Hamson with the 23rd pick of the 2014 WNBA Draft.
Wows: She's tall (6'7"). In addition to being tall, she blocks shot at a rate about as high as former Baylor superstar Brittney Griner.
Wonders: Aside from her volleyball career possibly interrupting or delaying her basketball career, the big question is really about her strength and how well she'll be able to defend WNBA posts.
Worries: Hamson played in the WCC where there isn't anyone who plays frequently that stands anywhere near 6-foot-7. As such, she was not only being guarded by a number of smaller players but also being fronted by them for rebounds. Her numbers are impressive, but the strength of competition has to be a concern and more than one WCC coach figured out how to make her a non- or limited factor as a scorer this year.
Here is a video showing a day in the life of Candace Parker while playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg, her professional team during the WNBA offseason.
Today, the Los Angeles Sparks announced that they have signed free agent guard Candice Wiggins to a contract.
"It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to play for the Sparks and I am absolutely beside myself with joy and excitement for the incredible opportunity to play in Los Angeles and bring my talent back to California," said Wiggins. "I'm ready to do whatever it takes to win and bring a WNBA Championship to the city of Los Angeles, and I know this era will truly be a Magic-al one. I’d also like to thank the Shock organization and the wonderful Tulsa fans for an incredible experience last season, it was truly special and unforgettable."
Today, the Seattle Storm and Los Angeles Sparks were involved in a trade where the Storm acquires guard Jenna O'Hea in exchange for a second round draft pick for 2015.
Today, the Los Angeles Sparks announced that they have signed Armintie Herrington, a free agent guard to a contract.
Today, the Connecticut Sun and Los Angeles Sparks announced a trade, where the Sparks received the rights to Sandrine Gruda who they signed, and the Sun received the 11th pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft along with a 2015 second round draft pick.
Looks like Charles to Sparks rumor is not happening.
With the penultimate pick of our 2014 WNBA community mock draft, we turn to the still Los Angeles-based Sparks.
"The Indiana Fever, rebuilding their roster after losing two guards from the 2012 WNBA champions, on Friday announced that they have signed 6-1 wing Marissa Coleman to a multiyear, free-agent contract." - Indystar
Ros Gold-Onwude: I’m so excited for Nneka Ogwumike to join me in studios for the semifinal games. Fans will get a fresh perspective of someone who was just in the conference. She will provide an interesting perspective of someone who currently plays in the WNBA, a sister to one of the top players, and a scout or friend with many other conference players.From a Pac-12 Networks release.
The Los Angeles Sparks have announced that Gail Goestenkors and Gary Kloppenburg have joined Head Coach Carol Ross' staff as assistant coaches for the 2014 WNBA season.
Washington Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault gives us some of his thoughts regarding Magic Johnson being part of the Los Angeles Sparks' ownership group and also about his time with the Los Angeles Lakers.
She sings along to Beyoncé's "Drunk in Love" in this video. This came from the Twitter account for the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team.
It's all over for Sparks Watch, as the WNBA holds a press conference announcing that the Los Angeles Sparks shall be staying in Los Angeles. We look at the winners and losers.
New L.A. Sparks owners Magic Johnson and Mark Walter have officially commented on their acquisition of the L.A. Sparks.
Laurel Richie has released a letter to Sparks fans on the WNBA's website. Here it is below:
Dear Los Angeles Sparks Fans:
I know that the past few weeks have been full of uncertainty as we looked to find a new ownership group for your beloved Sparks. I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your patience and ongoing support.
Today, I have some very good news to share. The WNBA and NBA Board of Governors have unanimously approved the sale of the Los Angeles Sparks to an investment group led by Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Mark Walter, Chairman and controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
We are thrilled to welcome Magic, Mark and their partners to the WNBA. As owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, this group is no stranger to the L.A. sports community, and Magic is clearly no stranger to L.A. basketball, having spent his entire professional career with the Lakers. We are proud to have them join the WNBA family, and we are equally proud to be joining their family.
The future for the Sparks couldn’t be brighter under the leadership of this new ownership group. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the season to begin.
Thanks again for your patience, and here’s to a terrific 2014.
Laurel J. Richie
Glad to see that the Sparks situation is resolved and to see that President Richie has responded.
The WNBA will have streaming video of today's press conference in Los Angeles, where it is expected that the league will announce that the Los Angeles Sparks have been sold to an ownership group led by Magic Johnson and Mark Walter, both of whom are part of the Los Angeles Dodgers MLB team's ownership group.
To watch the press conference which starts at 10:00 AM Pacific Time, or 1:00 Eastern Time, please click here. It will also be televised on NBA TV.
Today, Callan McClurg, one of the creators of the Sparks' Fan Petition to keep the team in LA has offered to provide his thoughts on the team and how he became a fan of the WNBA and women's basketball in general. With the WNBA holding a press conference later at 1:00 PM ET/10:00 AM PT regarding the team's ownership, we expect that this will be the last day of the series.
Mark Walter, Magic Johnson and other members of the Guggenheim Partners group that owns the Dodgers are buying the Sparks from Williams Group Holdings (and other minority owners), which had been losing money on the WNBA franchise. The only Dodger owner not involved in the purchase is Peter Guber, who is a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors who are looking to get an WNBA team.
The WNBA will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (1 p.m. Eastern Time) at Staples Center's Star Plaza in regards to the Los Angeles Sparks. Former NBA and Naismith Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson will be part of a new ownership group for the team.
On Sparks Watch Day 33, Albert Lee wrote about the practical time limit on negotiations between the WNBA and the future owners of the Sparks (if any). There is also an absolute time limit on the opening of the season. We take a look at how late the season could open.
With the Sparks situation continuing on into February, will this potentially affect the WNBA season's scheduling?
So... today's the day.
Since we haven't gotten any word from the WNBA, we'll just make something up. Here is the message that the WNBA should have sent to the fans and Sparks season ticket holders weeks ago.
We're about to complete our first month of the series. It is now Day 30, and still no apparent end in sight to this situation. So here's a quick update on the fan petition to keep them in LA.
Denver Nuggets forward JaVale McGee gave mom Pam McGee a brand new car with a red bow on top (like those crazy Christmas commercials) on an episode of Mom's Got Game (via OWN TV).
Larry Burnett, the Time Warner Cable play-by-play announcer for the Sparks, blog about the Sparks situation.
The Sparks might find a new home, or keep their old one - but will they ever be a home team?
The Sparks were part of one of the most unfortunate moments in WNBA history when they were part of a brawl against the Detroit Shock on July 21, 2008.
Here's a notable moment in Sparks history.
ESPN's Michelle Smith states that a Los Angeles-based group is interested in keeping the Sparks in LA. We look at the hypothetical process by which new owners join the WNBA.
There may be an ownership group out there who would keep the Sparks in Los Angeles after all.
Yesterday, Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob gave an interview on KNBR-AM in San Francisco and has some passionate remarks about the WNBA and what a team in the Bay Area could mean. That's on top of his interest in owning the Sparks. But meanwhile the league doesn't appear to be doing anything. Why? And could this be considered "good news" for the Sparks fans who want to keep the team there?
It has been nearly two weeks since we learned that the Golden State Warriors were trying to get the Sparks transaction done in two to three weeks. And now, we have a quick update, in the form of a tweet.
The Los Angeles Sparks are one of the marquee franchises in the league due to their winning tradition and it's your turn to provide some more input into this.
So, we're now at Part Three. We'll look at big name candidates and even other outside the box hires, all of whom could be good fits for the Los Angeles Sparks if they move to the Bay Area this summer.
Happy Tuesday everyone! This is the second part of head coach candidates for the Los Angeles Sparks under Joe Lacob's potential ownership. Today, we'll look at some candidates who were WNBA assistant coaches last year who may be good fits for the team as a head coach.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day everyone! On today's chapter of Sparks Watch, it's going to be part of a three part series on head coach candidates for the team, unless or until the news tells us otherwise. In the first part, we'll ask if Carol Ross is the right fit for the team in 2014.
Did you know that the Sparks played in the very first WNBA game? While we wait for new Sparks news, let's go back to the simpler year of 1997.
With the Sparks apparently looking like they will be moving to the San Francisco Bay Area this summer, we ask whether the WNBA will come back to the City of Angels anytime soon.
With the possibility of the Sparks folding or relocated, those Sparks fans that have bought season tickets are undoubtedly worried that they won't see their deposit money again. So what has happened in those cases in the past where teams folded after season ticket holders made deposits?
h/t to ttdomi for the link.
If the Golden State Warriors ownership does bring a WNBA team to the Bay Area, one of their first tasks will be figuring out where to play.
On this latest edition of Sparks Watch, we'll take a step away from the Sparks and the Golden State Warriors specifically and throw out an open question. Can smaller ownership groups work long term in the WNBA?
Over this past weekend, we have learned that Joe Lacob is trying to buy the Los Angeles Sparks, with the intention of moving the franchise to the San Francisco Bay Area within the next two to three weeks. Now, let's take a look at the impact he may have on the current collective bargaining agreement negotiations going on between the WNBA team owners and the players' union.
There are certain things the Warriors ownership need to move off their "to do" list, and likewise for the WNBA. What were the needs of both sides?
Swish Appeal has learned that the Golden State Warriors are looking to complete a deal to acquire the LA Sparks in the next couple of weeks.
Last night, Grantland's Zach Lowe put out this tweet:
Hearing talks to have the current Warriors ownership group take over the WNBA's L.A. Sparks are gaining steam.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) January 11, 2014
I don't know how much to make of this tweet. Since it hasn't even been two weeks since it was publicly known that the Sparks were for sale, I fully expect that any talks between the WNBA and the Warriors would have gone into a pretty serious phase by now, and as we have discussed on Sparks Watch on Day 4, talks between these parties could fall through and we're back to square one, or perhaps other prospective owners may show up. And I hate to sound like a pessimist, but we cannot rule out that this team may fold, like we did on Day 5.
But the WNBA isn't transparent about this. So, when a well known and nationally respected NBA writer tweets something on it, there may be some resolution to this situation in the near future.
Follow our Sparks Offseason StoryStream by clicking here.
Happy Saturday everyone. On this chapter of Sparks Watch, we have some links to various pieces besides those written by the contributors on this site.
Here are ten questions to which I'm sure we'd all like the answers.
One entire week has passed since the initial news regarding the ownership situation with LA's WNBA team. On this newest edition of Sparks Watch, we examine other venues where the Los Angeles Sparks could play at besides the Staples Center if the team does not relocate.
Seeing Los Angeles Sparks owner Paula Madison walk away from the team shocked fans and anyone interested in the WNBA. This chapter of Sparks Watch asks the question if this outcome could have been prevented.
Here is a link to a radio interview yesterday with former WNBA player Fran Harris with Alex Cohen and A Martinez, who host "Take Two," a morning radio show for public radio station 89.3 KPCC, based in Pasadena, California. Harris played on the inaugural 1997 Houston Comets team which won the championship that year.
The interview is a good one as Harris talks about the some of the challenges of marketing women's professional basketball. One thing that she talked about in particular was that it is a challenge to get women to follow the WNBA and also that marketing women's basketball like men's basketball cannot be done the same way.
Interestingly enough, Harris does not appear to believe that the Los Angeles market is as necessary to the WNBA as some may think, and she was excited about the possibility of a new San Francisco Bay Area WNBA team if the Sparks end up relocating there.
To keep up with the Sparks' offseason situation and our "Sparks Watch" series, follow our StoryStream by clicking here.
We still don't know who will be the new owner of the Los Angeles Sparks - but what traits do good sports owners possess?
Chris Woodmansee and Callan McClurg who are both Los Angeles Sparks fans created a petition online at Change.org intended to keep the team in LA. Here is its mission statement:
We, the loyal fanbase of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks are fearing the worst. Our ownership group has decide to cease operations and this loyal franchise of the Women's National Basketball Association is in limbo of either folding or relocating to a new city. Our mission is to restore the Sparks' long standing history of winning and championships in the city where they belong, and that is in Los Angeles, California.
The WNBA is currently meeting with groups of owners who have expressed interest in operating a franchise, one of which is the NBA's Golden State Warriors, whom if chosen to operate the team would be moving the team up to the Bay Area. The demise and or relocation of this franchise is NOT the answer and NOT what we are looking for.
We ask that you sign this petiton, whether you watch Women's Basketball or not or to help our struggle and help the Sparks find a new ownership group that will keep the team in Los Angeles. The Sparks are one of only four original WNBA franchises left to exist since the league was formed back in 1997, and they've won two WNBA titles (2000 and 2001) and have the longest winning streak in league history (15 straight wins).
The demise and or relocation of this franchise is NOT the answer and NOT what we are looking for. KEEP THE SPARKS IN LOS ANGELES!!
* * *
Update at 10:50 AM ET: We saw a tweet that another fan, Callan McClurg also is helping organize the petition:
Can someone let Swish Appeal know that I'm also an organizer for the petition and that it's not just Chris that's doing all the work.— Callan McClurg (@callanmac3) January 7, 2014
The title of the post and the beginning of the article have been modified accordingly.
Former WNBA and Los Angeles Sparks star Lisa Leslie wrote a statement on her Twitter account earlier today:
Happy New Year Tweethearts! I have received a ton of questions regarding the LA Sparks.— Lisa Leslie (@LisaLeslie) January 6, 2014
My role as a minority owner has never involved the day-to-day operations of the team. The recent events came as a surprise to me.— Lisa Leslie (@LisaLeslie) January 6, 2014
As a member of the LA sparks family for over 15 years, it saddens me that the organization is this situation. #SparksFam— Lisa Leslie (@LisaLeslie) January 6, 2014
Keep in the loop on the situation with our StoryStream.
We look at the possible consequences of what could happen if the Sparks fold. These include what it would mean for the WNBA for the short term logistically, symbolically, and also if it could have long term impacts on the league's survival.
Given the situation of the Sparks, we have to mention the dread word - "relocation". We revisit the old game of deciding the best cities for future (or present) WNBA franchises.
Here is a video interview of Paula Madison from KCAL TV in Los Angeles which was from last Friday, January 3 and an embed is below. It should be noted that this interview came before the news regarding the Golden State Warriors' interest in buying the team.
Madison believed that while owning the Sparks that there would be major sponsorship opportunities which would help support the team. It's hard to say from the video whether they include another major sponsor along the likes of Farmers Insurance, which was the team's marquee sponsor until 2013, or a replacement marquee sponsor for Farmers.
There also was an interview with a young girls basketball player who believes that if the Sparks do fold, it would make her sad, and that there would be less opportunities for her and other girls who aspire to play professionally in the future.
Keep track on the situation in L.A. with our StoryStream as news unfolds.
James Bowman put together a piece yesterday outlining what we think we know about what led up to the news of the Los Angeles Sparks ownership group giving up their franchise.
Two additional details emerged yesterday as the L.A. media is starting to dig into this story a bit.
What still stands out as curious: what changed between December 5 - when they announced an extension of coach Carol Ross' contract - and December 16?
To keep up on this story as it develops, check out our L.A. Sparks offseason storystream.
We are talking pretty extensively about the Los Angeles Sparks and their ownership saga, where their former owner Paula Madison cut ties with the franchise, laid off team employees, and that the Golden State Warriors are interested in buying the team. But the WNBA and the Sparks have given no official update on their sites regarding the matter.
The owners of the Golden State Warriors look like the #1 candidates to become the new owners of the Sparks - but who would the other candidates be?
The NBA's Golden State Warriors, led by their majority owner Joe Lacob, have expressed interest in acquiring the Los Angeles Sparks WNBA team.
Wherein we try to recreate the timeline, and separate what we know from what we don't know.
The Los Angeles Sparks franchise is currently at a crossroads after owner Paula Madison notified league president Laurel Richie that she would be unable to continue running the team just before the Christmas holiday.
WNBA takes control of the Sparks, trying to find new owners
The Phoenix Mercury defeated the Los Angeles Sparks 78-77 in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinals series to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Although the final moments of the game made for dramatic highlights, there was one primary statistic that explained why the Mercury won the game.
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