Beard saved Game 1 of the 2016 WNBA Finals between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx from being a close shave.
Hitting the bullseye at the Target Centre buzzer, L.A.’s Alana Beard drew a bead on Minny’s Maya Moore in the corner and drilled home a clutch three at point blank range with just seconds to spare as she slid back downtown.
As the Sparks shocked the defending champions and top seeded Lynx team 78-76 for one in the win column they took a commanding lead in the best of five Finals series. Expect this one to go to the wire though for the two teams who began this season with 11 game unbeatable records until they faced off with each other.
Minnesota prevailed in that one but Alana made sure that would never happen again as the number zero got her Nick Young, purple and gold Lakers brotherhood on and showed some downtown swag. The only thing she didn’t do was step over Olympic Gold winning great Maya Moore like Allen Iverson did to Tyronn Lue in the 2002 Sixers, Lakers NBA Finals. She was too busy picking herself up off the floor, her shot was so good for that.
Beard wasn’t alone in covering the Lynx like Minnesotans face scarfs growing around this time of year. League MVP Nneka Ogwumike had 19 points as did Kristi Toliver. Candace Parker also contributed a cool 14 to show the Sparks have many options to plug you with. Almost as many as the WNBA has legends. As the association honoured the 20 for 20 at the games half. The 20 best players of the last and first two decades of the Womens National Basketball Association leagues inception. As Los Angeles Sparks legend Lisa Leslie watched the new generation of L.A. angels and had a silky smooth reunion with her Jerry West and Elgin Baylor ‘Fire and Ice’ like partner Parker, the Jaamal Wilkes silk to her operator smooth.
Leslie was joined by Cynthia Cooper, Yolanda Griffith, Becky Hammon, Lauren Jackson, Deanna Nolan, Ticha Penicheiro, Katie Smith, Tina Thompson, Theresa Weatherspoon and brand new Hall of Famer Sheryl Swoopes from the retired legends class. Whilst Candace and Lynx opponents Maya Moore, Lindsay Whale and Seimone Augustus were joined by fellow current court contemporaries Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Cappie Pondexter, Diana Taurasi and recently retired Tamika Catchings for quite an almost 50/50 list of active and retired WNBA great that should leave you expecting no less.
Fellow Rio 2016 Olympic Gold medalist for the womens national basketball Team USA Whalen had 18 for the Minnesota Lynx, along with the same from Sylvia Fowles to go along with 13 rebounds. Quite clearly motivated by the fact that she should have been honoured at half-time instead of hearing it from the Lynx coach in the home locker room. Still if Minnesota want their own rings come next season and the end of these finals they need more from Moore (who left the game with her head in her hands) and this pack needs to let the wolves out.
Otherwise it’s going to be a Hollywood ending in this wild west world showdown.
Time to go to work.
Watch this space…
Sister Act. Ogwumike Siblings Spark Hollywood Reunion In Los Angeles
It’s a family affair in Hollywood.
‘Mike check, 1…2, 1…2. Chiney Ogwumike has gone from the Connecticut Sun to a Californian one to reunite with Stanford sister Nneka.
And in an instant the Candace Parker Sparks have plugged themselves in to this year’s favourite to be the HIGHER. FURTHER. FASTER, ‘Captain Marvel’ of the WNBA.
The Sparks are now illuminated by this former scorching Sun star, her former MVP sister, Candace, Point Goddess Chelsea Gray and hot clutch shooter Alana Beard. And that’s just for starters, before we get to the splinters that will stick in you from the bolstered bench. Or their seventh seal in this year’s draft, the Baylor made star Kalani Brown.
Looks like Laker legend and new coach Derek Fisher-no stranger to the closing seconds of the game himself-has a lot to light up from his sideline fuse.
The Sparks gave up a first round draft pick from next year’s 2020 lottery to get this former number one pick in the 2014 pick of players and it was well worth every spot. Chiney is a star in her prime now, whilst her sister Nneka is a veteran legend. Combine the two of them together on the same squad like their Stanford college alumni days and you have a one, two punch like the Sparks had in the legendary Lisa Leslie days alongside Candace Parker. Except the Los Angeles Sparks still have Parker. One of the best players in the league right now and for all time, giving them an even better big-three and superteam then they’ve ever had in their purple and gold coronation.
This is beautiful for a game that is all about family. From the Grant one to the Lopez twin peaks. Even sons inheriting the skills of their father from Gary Payton II to Tim Hardaway Jnr. To what’s to come from Bol Bol, Shareef O’Neal (let’s make this special and get him drafted to pops Lake Show) and Bronny.
Oh yeah and the Ball boys.
But nothing is quite as special as these sisters doing it for themselves and each other on the Lakers sister squad that now stands as its own in STAPLES like the California clashing Clippers.
After becoming Rookie of the Year, Chiney suffered through knee and Achilles injuries whilst playing in China which stunted her seasons. But in the last one this low post threat, bullied back in the paint with a 14 point average and half of that in rebounds with seven. Expect those stats that would be the perfect compliment to Candace and big sis to only improve anyway. As will the perimeter presence of the likes of All Star point Gray and Beard trimming down those shots from downtown Pico.
Peek at your 2019 WNBA champions. Because the best of the best Skylar Diggings-Smith and Breanna Stewart will join the legendary likes of Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore missing the majority if not in most cases all the forthcoming season. Which is such a shame, even if there is so much more talent on display in this expect great league. But with Storm’s weathered in Seattle and Dallas Wings clipped, these Sparks with the Fish that saved L.A. in charge are showing like in the Michael Cooper days they are more than just a legendary name plugged into their head coaching seat.
The stand for one of the best leagues in the greatest game and it’s next generation starts now.
Watch them make way and lead the charge in their game, their way.
And worthy of a Hollywood story, but a real household one, these sisters are each other keepers.
Canada’s Bridget Carleton selected 21st overall WNBA Draft
“Number 21 — went number 21, maybe there is a little karma there.”
Canadian Bridget Carleton (Chatham, Ont.) was selected 21st overall (2nd round,9th pick) by the Connecticut Sun at the 2019 WNBA Draft.
Carleton concluded arguably the best season by a Canadian woman at the NCAA division one level — culminating a spectacular career as the best small forward in the country earning the recipient of the 2019 Cheryl Miller award and Big 12 player of the year award — a first for a Cyclones player and a Canadian.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be drafted by the Connecticut Sun,” Carleton said. ” They have a great franchise and an amazing coaching staff. I can’t wait to get there, soak it all in and work as hard as I can. I am looking forward to starting this chapter of my basketball career.” —
In four years with Cyclones the 6’1″ guard racked-up almost every accolade possible, including consecutive unanimous all-Big 12
Consistent throughout her NCAA collegiate career, Carleton averaged a career-best 21.4 points per game, alongside 8.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks while improving her already impressive shooting numbers to 46.3% from field, 37% from three-pointers and 85.4 the foul-line.
Starting in 121 out of a possible 124 games for Iowa State, Carleton came-up eight-points shy of the school’s all-time scoring mark with 2142 points — failing to score under 19 points in a game just once in the
If it all goes according to plan, Iowa State could become the first NCAA school to have multiple Canadians selected in the WNBA and NBA drafts’ in the same year.
Both Marial Shayok (Ottawa) and Lindell Wigginton (Nova Scotia) who played crucial in the Cyclones men’s basketball program also declared in for the 2019 NBA Draft and strong cases for being selected in second-round.
Carleton’s selection marks the fifth straight year a Canadian has been drafted into the world’s best professional basketball league. Kia Nurke (2018) Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (2017), Adut Bulgak (2016), Ruth Hamblin (2016), Nirra Fields (2016), Natalie Anchonwa (2015)
Lastly, she is the first Canadian to be drafted out of the Big 12 since Canada’s highest WNBA pick — Stacey Dales out of the Oklahoma Sooners went third overall to the Washington Mystics back in 2002.