Leslie and the Los Angeles Sparks do not have my respect.
are several things you might ask me after hearing a statement
you think anyone, especially Lisa or the Sparks, gives a rip
whether you respect them or not?"
as a former member of the forum had as their signature line,
"How could you not respect a player who is arguably the
best basketball player on the planet, the woman who had the
guts to make the first dunk in a WNBA game, or the two-time
defending WNBA champions?"
answer the second question first. The athletic skills of Lisa
Leslie and her teammates DeLisha Milton, Tamika Dixon, LaTasha
Byears (a Spark until just recently), and now Nikki Teasley
are not in question. I would say that their skills speak for
themselves. Lisa in particular is indeed and has been one
of the most dominant players in the WNBA for years and continues
to perform at the highest level. She has been the member of
and arguably one of the leaders of 2 Olympic Gold medal teams
and the latest World Championship team. You can't say that
she's accomplished all that because refs give her veteran
calls or because she's been on teams carried forward by other
players and she's just tagged along for the ride. In each
of those championship teams, Lisa has been a major contributor
if not the top scorer or rebounder, or both. She is currently
(as of this writing) in the top 10 of all but two of the 31
categories WNBA.com keeps track of, and is #1 in 11 of them.
It would be ludicrous to say that she is not still one of
the best players in the league and in the world.
do not respect Lisa Leslie because of the one thing for me
that overshadows and taints all that she can do and has done.
her arrogance. It's her complete and utter disrespect for
all of her competitors. It's her almost schoolyard-like, childish
way she and her teammates compose themselves. Some recent
examples are in order. In a recent interview with an Australian
news service, Lisa claimed to not know who Lauren Jackson
was. Lauren Jackson, the player who ripped out Lisa's hair
extensions during the gold medal match of the 2000 Sydney
Olympics; the player who Lisa had just played in the WNBA
playoffs, the player who was a teammate on the 2002 All-Star
team and might have gotten the game MVP is Lisa's coach had
allowed Lauren a few more minutes of playing time. Name doesn't
ring a bell. Last season, before a game here in Seattle the
Sparks came onto the floor for pregame practice and clapped
until the Storm left because the Storm were a couple minutes
late finishing up their drills. They clapped until the Storm
left their own damn court. And then, after a fired-up Storm
team beat them that night, the Sparks stayed in a huddle at
midcourt longer than any team I've ever seen becasue the Storm
and the fans were celebrating the win. Let's also not forget
the beyond physical play such as the Lisa Leslie choke hold
on Michelle Marciniak, the bloodied head of Kamila Vodichkova,
and the numerous slaps and elbow blows to both Sue Bird and
Lauren Jackson during the 2002 playoffs. Dirty. Arrogant.
Poor Sportsmanship. I sure fans of other teams could provide
similar and numerous examples too.
be perfectly honest, it is almost disgusting that Lisa is
some sort of the poster child for the WNBA and darling of
whatever sports media pays attention to this league. The fact
that this poorest of sports, this strutting self-absorbed
"model," is put forth as a symbol by the league
management is infuriating to say the least.
she has been told she's the best so many times by those around
her that it has gone beyond ego boosting into outright conceit.
Because it isn't only limited to Lisa - the entire Sparks
organization is the same way - I have to conclude that it
is either because they live in such an echo chamber that the
momentum of their own egos bouncing and off each other has
caused some sort of logarithmic head expansion; or they have
so utterly bought into Coach Michael Cooper's twisted Pat
Riley philosophy that they have taken on the worst elements
of the 80s Showtime Lakers without any of Magic Johnson's
balancing character or charisma. It's probably both.
no, I do not respect Lisa Leslie or the Los Angeles Sparks.
All of their individual and collective accomplishments for
me are negated by their overwhelming arrogance and complete
lack of sportsmanship.
think from the conversations I have had with other fans around
the league that my disdain is not uncommon. This is a key
point. Many might argue that we are LA haters simply because
they are successful and we are consumed by jealousy. For myself
that is completely untrue, and I think it is false for others
as well. Here is why. The attitudes I have found towards the
Houston Comets are night and day as compared to the attitudes
towards the Sparks. The Comets won four straight WNBA championships
and often did so in a dominating fashion. Cynthia Cooper and
Sheryl Swoopes are two of the most self-confident players
in the league, and for good reason. While they may slip over
into arrogance at times, no one that I have ever talked to
has spoken about those two players or that team with the same
amount of disgust as I have heard over the Sparks. If it were
simply a case of success jealousy, we would see the same feelings
and statements made about the Comets and we don't.
leads us to the first hypothetical question in response to
my statement, "Do you think anyone, especially Lisa or
the Sparks, gives a rip whether you respect them or not?
absolutely think they care and it is eating them up that no
one, and I mean no one, in this league likes them, fawns over
them, or respects them in the manner in which they feel they
deserve. Go back and read past interviews with Lisa and the
Sparks after they've won their titles, or after she won the
league MVP. Time and time again the issue of respect comes
I think they so fully believe that they way they play and
act is the way to continue winning that the only solution
if for them to start losing. If they go on winning championships,
their attitudes will never change and in my opinion will only
get worse. Well, you might say, if they are winning why should
they change? Who cares if they get any respect if they have
rings on all their fingers? They care. Deep down, they care
and they know that it's not the arrogance and swagger that's
helping them win championships, but they are so caught up
in their self-image that they may be unable to ever admit
seat psychiatry? Maybe. But I believe this is the case. So
not only do I not respect them, I kind of pity them too.