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ONE MORE SHOT: Sparks center Lisa Leslie will retire at season’s end but there’s a more important goal at hand for the former Morningside HS standout – another championship.Â
Photo Credit: Leon Bennett for Sentinel
Sparks center will retire at season’s end
Sparks center Lisa Leslie started off her 2009 season with only six points (on 3-for-11 shooting) and three rebounds in the team’s season opening win over the Detroit Shock.
It wasn’t how she planned to kick off her farewell campaign but it’s a footnote that she won’t dwell on for long, not when the team wins by 20 over the defending WNBA champions.
Prior to last Saturday’s game at Staples Center, Leslie was recognized by WNBA President Donna Orender for her 12-year career that will end after this season with her retirement. But the veteran is saving her emotions and reflections for after the task is completed.
“I don’t feel emotional yet just because I want to win every game so with that type of focus, it’s hard to get distracted with this being the last year.”
When it does end, it will have come full circle for her. She recalled that she started her USA Basketball career while a junior at Inglewood Morningside High School.
Now at 36, she’s the eldest on a mixed team of veterans and players who watched her when they were in middle or high school.
“It’s weird that I’m that person now because I was the youngest when I started with USA basketball,” Leslie said.
Â Last season, she was named Defensive Player of the Year and made the All-WNBA first team – all after taking the 2007 season off due to the birth of her first child, Lauren. It makes fans believe she can play for a few more seasons, but she’s comfortable with her decision.
“I want to play while I’m effective,” she said.
Â It’s a goodbye that fans knew they’d have to make, but with the team’s status as the prohibitive favorite to win the WNBA title, this is one farewell tour they’ll hope to enjoy.