The Los Angeles Sparks have been one of the most consistently successful franchises in WNBA history, winning back to back championships in 2001 and 2002 and claiming at least one playoff series in 9 out of their 16 years of existence.
When the league was founded in 1997, the Sparks (whose roster boasted the incredible Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie) were one of the marquee franchises. And as the years went on, the team acquired several other big-name talents, including Candace Parker, the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game, and Tina Thompson, the league’s all-time leader in points and a nine-time All-Star.
Facing and Overcoming Adversity
Despite their overwhelming amount talent and well-documented success, the Sparks have also faced their share of adversity. In 2007, Lisa Leslie became pregnant and missed the entire season, sending the team into a free-for-all that resulted in a league-worst 10-24 record. (It was also the first year the Sparks had missed out on making the playoffs since 1998.)
The very next year, the team was awarded the number-one overall pick in the draft. They selected Candace Parker, who was undoubtedly the best female player in college basketball, and with her help the team bounced all the way back to the Western Conference Finals in 2008 (where they barely lost in a close, three-game series).
The following year, Parker missed most of the season with a pregnancy of her own, and the Sparks once again struggled early on. But upon her return, they rallied to make it all the way to the Western Conference Finals yet again.
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