Yesterday, Los Angeles Sparks center Lisa Leslie announced that this year will be her last year in the WNBA. This announcement should have had a bigger impact than it has. Lisa Leslie is one of the pioneers of women's basketball, and one of, if not, it's best player ever. She is a three time WNBA MVP, and led the Sparks to back to back titles in 2001 and 2002. She was the first player in WNBA history to successfully dunk the ball. Last year, at age 36, she was second in the league in rebounds (behind teammate Candace Parker) and led the league in blocked shots. For her career, she is 8th all time in scoring average, and is the all time scoring leader with 5,909 points. Leslie is the all-time leader in rebounds with 3,156 rebounds, 719 more than second place. Leslie is second all time in total blocked shots with 789 (only Margo Dydek has more).
Lisa Leslie is also a four time Olympic gold medalist, having played on the team in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. She was the youngest woman ever to appear at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1992 at age 20. In 1990, as a senior in high school, she became just the second female ever to score 100 points in a high school game when she scored 101 points in one half before the opposing team forfeited due to a lack of players.
The announcement of her retirement has gotten very little radio play in the last 24 hours since her retirement, and I'd have to wonder if someone in the NBA of her caliber, say a Kobe Bryant, would get the same treatment if they announced their retirement. I think the media still looks at the WNBA as a fringe sport, and while it may be a fringe sport, the retirement of arguably the league's greatest player ever should still be a huge announcement and should still receive more publicity than it is receiving. Congratulations to Lisa Leslie on her retirement, and thank you for a wonderful career, from beginning to end.