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SBD/February 6, 2014/Franchises
Magic Johnson Says WNBA Sparks Will Turn A Profit Under New Ownership
Published February 6, 2014
LEAGUE'S LINCHPIN: ESPN W's Mechelle Voepel wrote history is "hard-earned in women's pro sports, and the Sparks have had nearly two decades of it" in L.A. The Sparks "hosted the first WNBA game" against the Liberty in June '97. One of the "greatest players in women's hoops history -- Lisa Leslie -- spent her WNBA career with the Sparks." The team also has "had a bit of a 'villain' persona -- especially in places such as Phoenix and Seattle -- that has given the WNBA some enjoyable rivalry drama." The Sparks leaving L.A. "would not have signaled doom for the WNBA, but it would have been a gloomy development," even if they "had a welcoming landing spot in the Bay Area" (ESPNW.com, 2/5).
NOW, FOR THE LAKE SHOW: Johnson recently said that the Lakers "needed a face of the franchise, someone like Jerry West or Phil Jackson, to help sell the brand to free agents during dollar-driven summers." In L.A., Bresnahan & Rohlin note Johnson then "stepped forward" yesterday to fill that role. Johnson said, "I told [GM] Mitch Kupchak that last week. First they have to make up their mind on who they want, and then they tell me, just like I recruited Ron Artest, I talked to Lamar Odom." He added, "I've been in a lot of different things with the Lakers, but it's up to them -- [Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss], Mitch, Coach (Mike) D'Antoni to decide who they want. Once they make their decision, they say, 'Hey, Earvin, can you put in a call to so and so?'" (L.A. TIMES, 2/6).