Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) May 13, 2004
The Los Angeles Sparks donÂt want the 2004 WNBA Championship Â they expect it. After suffering a bitter loss to the Detroit Shock in the third game of last yearÂs finals, the Sparks are looking for a return to their 2001 and 2002 championship form.
The mood at this yearÂs Sparks Media Day is light and fun. Music plays in the background, players kid around, smile, laugh Â itÂs evident that theyÂre just having a good time. ÂThe people here are so laid back, just goofing off and being silly. ItÂs a lot more fun than it looks,Â says Christi Thomas, rookie and first round draft pick. Lisa Leslie dances in front of a green screen for NBA films while the other players change from uniforms to street clothes for their casual photo shoot.
The true stress of the oncoming season is nowhere to be found, and yet beneath it all, there seems to be inherent pressure in the situation at hand. Lisa Leslie jokes, ÂWeÂre always guaranteed a championship around here with the Lakers,Â but donÂt think she doesnÂt keep an eye on Shaq and Kobe falling behind the Spurs. The fans, the coaches, the press, theyÂre all discussing finals, and the Sparks are only one game into their preseason.
Last yearÂs post-season was a wake up call to LA that the WNBA is growing and maturing. As Nikki Teasley puts it, ÂThe loss to Detroit left a bad taste in our mouth and we were very humbled.Â But to put it in perspective, she still sees the Sparks as a targeted team. ÂEveryone still thinks we have a slight edgeÂ there are a lot of people still hunting for us.Â
The Sparks are pulling out the heavy artillery this year after picking up WNBA All-Star and 7 year veteran Teresa Witherspoon from the New York Liberty. Witherspoon talks to reporters and media with absolute passion in her eyes. She wants that ring, and she wants it bad.
There is no doubt that Witherspoon is already a Spark at heart. She may miss New York, but you can hear LA spirit in her voice. ÂI love how everybody stays on the same page. I love that energy and I like these young ladies Â theyÂve been there and done it.Â The interview ends as Witherspoon joins Leslie in front of the cameras for a few more smiles and goofy candid shots.
It may be that the players save the drama for the media and the fun for the court, but the Sparks are the microcosm of a league that may either burst at the seams this year or begin to fall by the wayside. They have draftees from the most amazing rookie class the league has seen (Doneeka Hodges and Christi Thomas). They have two players on the US Olympic team (Lisa Leslie and Delisha Milton-Jones). And they have a chance to wow the thousands of new fans that carried over from this year's NCAA tournament. All eyes are watching.
So, whether the players feel any pressure or not, they make it look as if theyÂre out on the court just having a good time. As their coach Michael Cooper puts it, ÂOne day IÂd like to see them go out and make millions of dollars, but for now, theyÂre playing for the love of the game.Â
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