The official team photo of Los Angeles’ representative in America’s top women’s professional sports league, now in its 20th season. Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com
LOS ANGELES SPARKS
2015 Record: 14-20, fourth place in the WNBA Western Conference, lost to Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs, two games to one
Coach: Brian Agler (2nd year)
Top Players (2015 stats):
Candace Parker, F/C – 19.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 6.3 apg (team leader in all three categories)
Nnega Ogwumike, F – 16.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg
Jantel Levender, C – 14.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg
Kristi Toliver, PG – 12.4 ppg, 3.7 apg
First Place Conference Finishes: Six (latest in 2006)
WNBA Championships: Two (2001, 2002)
First Season: 1997
Home: Staples Center, capacity 13,141
Current Record: 1-0, beat Seattle 96-66 on May 15th
Next Game: Friday, May 20th at Washington Mystics
Candace Parker, the face of the L.A. Sparks for this past decade. Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com
A FEW THOUGHTS:
After researching these Sparks, one of the WNBA’s flagship franchises, one thought was prevalent…
As goes Candace Parker, so goes the Sparks.
A perfect case in point:
Last season, the eight-year star out of Tennessee sat out the first half of the Sparks’ campaign to rest her body and avoid burn-out after playing in Europe.
The Sparks won just three of 13 games in her absence.
After Parker rejoined the team on July 29th against Minnesota, the team went a respectable 11-7 and, led by her 19 points and ten boards per game, managed to sneak into the playoffs despite having one of their worst records in their history.
A video of the 2016 Sparks Fan Experience, courtesy of YouTube:
As for this season…
From looking at the roster and 2015’s stats, the Sparks seem to have a strong frontcourt with Ogwumike and Levender complimenting Parker.
They will also be depending on guards Toliver and 12-year veteran Alana Beard.
Of course one game, as good as it was (the Sparks winning by 30 points) does not project how a team will do in a season, in any sport.
And never will.
But it seems that these Sparks have as good a chance as anyone to be a factor and contend for a WNBA title.
I have plans to see for myself as I plan to take in a game at Staples Center sometime this summer, not only to check out the Sparks but to also check out Staples as I – with great astonishment – have never been there.
I plan to do an article about the Staples Center experience – what the sight lines are like from its seats, how the food is, what the costs are for souvenirs, what the atmosphere is like for a game – much like this site did for Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium last year.
Suffice it to say, I’m looking forward to checking out that downtown L.A. arena!
And I likewise wish this band of Sparks sisters all the best of luck as they kick off their 20th season!
A group of Sparks celebrating during a recent game. Photo courtesy of sportsbookreview.com