You might think you have basketball fandom covered keeping up with the Lakers or the Clippers—but what if you like following a team that maintains a legacy of winning? If that sounds appealing, allow us to suggest the multiple-times-over WNBA championship-winning L.A. Sparks.
Plus, their season falls right when you might be feeling basketball withdrawal. While NBA basketball runs October to June, the WNBA plays from May to September. The Sparks are in the postseason again in 2019; their first playoff game will be at the Staples Center on September 15.
Even if you haven’t been a superfan from the start, here are just a few reasons you should make this the year you start paying attention to this hometown team.
It’s the best value in sports
The average price of a non-premium Lakers ticket is around $100.25, according to research published in Business Insider. That’s the second-highest cost in the NBA, following only the New York Knicks. Compare that to attending a Sparks game, where you’ll be in the same Staples Center seats, watching an extremely high level of play, and the prices start at $16, with perfectly good lower-level seats running around $47.
While the prices might be accessible, what you’ll see on the court is as intense as any basketball game going. Catch a match-up between the Sparks and their long-time rivals the Minnesota Lynx and see what we mean.
The players are beyond top-notch
L.A. Sparks players hail from around the world, and include women who had outstanding college and European league careers before joining the team.
Among the stars to watch are power-forward Candace Parker, who’s racked up two Olympic gold medals, two WNBA MVP awards (including being the only player to ever be named the league’s MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season), and three selections to the WNBA All-Star team among her extensive list of credentials. Last season she was averaging a cool 17.4 points per game; for comparison, her counterpart on the Clippers, forward Danilo Gallinari, only averages 15.3.
Women–and specifically women of color–are represented in all facets of team operations
The L.A. Sparks are owned by an investment group led by Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and women have been installed in key management positions, from the executive suite to coaches, trainers, and even the voices on the game broadcast.
Penny Toler, now the Sparks’ G.M. and executive vice president, started with the team as a player in 1997, scoring the first-ever basket in the first-ever game of the WNBA. Since then, she’s stayed loyal to the Sparks, working her way up, from player to head coach to executive, and she’s still the only female athlete to have her retired jersey hanging in the Staples Center.
And while some team owners around the country have criticized their players for political protests, Sparks management supported a bold choice by the entire team to refuse to take the court during the National Anthem when it played before their final championship game at the end of the 2017 season.
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