Monday, February 18, 2019
Page 756

Who’s in charge at your child’s school?

An LA high school basketball player has been a prominent part of her team for the last three years. Now she’s going to another high school for her senior season.

Friday she went to her old school to get a copy of a waiver from a test she took last year, to help qualify her for something else. Of course, the counseling office had no copy of the waiver. Told her they’d thrown last year’s stuff out. What was more, the counselor she’d talked to last year was out sick indefinitely. So the young baller went to find the Athletic Director to see if she could help her.

The AD told her, “since you’re checked out (of the school), I can’t help you anymore.”

Unbelievable isn’t a strong enough word to describe this situation or this AD, but I’m not going to start cussing in this space. So let’s try reprehensible, appalling, assinine, selfish, hateful, immature, spiteful, bitchy, trifling, mean-spirited and hateful towards children.

I wish this incident was an exception, but bad coaches and school staff are everywhere. And they get away with their crap, for the most part, in low-income areas. Try to pull that mess in Palos Verdes or Orange County and someone would get fired. In poor areas, parents don’t bother to take a stand because they don’t think it’ll make a difference or that they could change anything – the self-confidence is that low.

A coach at another school in a low-income area was recently let go, and it should have happened a long time ago. But parents of the past didn’t protest or try to talk to school officials.

To all the parents out there: your voice does make a difference. Remember the old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”? It’s true to the tenth power at schools. Check up and make sure coaches and athletic directors are doing right by your child, and if not, take it to the school administration. If that doesn’t work, keep taking it up the ladder. Bad treatment of your children should not be tolerated.

The year of the non-MVP

The editor for the website for which I write asked all the writers for their votes on the “best of”s in the WNBA this year. I didn’t know who to choose for MVP, and I still don’t.

In past years it’s been pretty obvious who the final 2-3 candidates were due to their strong performances all season long. Even last year, when some didn’t agree that Candace Parker should have won, most agreed that she was at least on the short list of candidates.

Who do we have this year? Diana Taurasi, who has performed well and currently leads the league in points per game at 20.4, but whose season was marred by a drunk driving arrest in June. There is retiring Lisa Leslie – a sentimenal favorite for some – who has played extremely well. But it’s only been for half the season after she came back from a knee injury.

Becky Hammon is second in points per game and fourth in assists, but she hasn’t done much to “wow” fans this year as she has in the past. Lauren Jackson is always a killer, but her rebounding production has been down this year. She’s also been out for over a week after being diagnosed with a low back stress fracture.

Cappie Pondexter is another consideration, as is Sophia Young. But no strong or obvious candidate emerges from this list of top WNBA players.

A similar situation exists with Rookie of the Year. DeWanna Bonner started out the season on fire, and looked to be the obvious choice for the award. But her production has slowed as the season has gone on, while Angel McCoughtry’s has picked up. As a result, ROY could go to either player.

Perhaps it’s the Year of Inconsistency, but this year’s MVP will lack the punch of previous winners. Hopefully 2009 is just an off-year and this won’t become a trend.

Sparks 90, Lynx 61, on “Lisa Leslie night”

At the end of a season full of glitches, last night came off without a hitch.

The Sparks soared into the WNBA playoffs with a solid third-seed after thrashing the Minnesota Lynx. And they did so amidst an evening of honoring Lisa Leslie, which included a pre-game tribute that brought out family, friends and celebrities.

After the National Anthem, longtime Sparks play-by-play guy Larry Burnett guided the ceremony. Leslie’s former coach at Morningside High School gave her a hug, as did the USC basketball team and all of her current Sparks teammates. Leslie’s family spoke, and then surprise guest Earvin “Magic” Johnson strode out. Among the many nice things he said, the best was when he recounted being asked in the airport earlier why he wasn’t at the Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony honoring his friends.

“I told them, ‘I’m in LA honoring someone who will be in the Hall of Fame,'” he said.

There were also several video tributes throughout the rest of the evening, including one from Lynx Coach Jennifer Gillom.

The Sparks got off to a quick start in the first quarter, and built a nice lead going into the second. But Minnesota went on a 15-2 run, and the Sparks were stuck on 30 points forever until the evening’s honoree hit a bucket. From there, the Sparks seemed to take control again, growing the lead into the second half and bringing the victory home.

The Sparks will take on second-seed Seattle at Staples Center Wednesday, Sept. 16.

After the game, season ticket holders headed across the street to the party at ESPN Zone. It was a huge turnout; I’m not the best at crowd estimation, but there had to be 400-500 people there.

Co-owner Kathy Goodman, Coach Michael Cooper and GM Penny Toler each thanked the crowd for coming, and then Burnett took over and interviewed players as they walked in.

Vanessa Hayden’s two-year-old daughter was with her, as was Tina Thompson’s five-year-old son. Good lord but the children of basketball players are tall for their ages. Each child looked older then they are. Ditto for Leslie’s fast-growing toddler.

Cool giveaway of the night: the first grip of fans that came in got a T-shirt that read “pass the ball to the girl” on the front, with Leslie’s number 9 on the back. Ya gotta love that slogan.

My two favorite players, Betty Lennox and Candace Parker, pause for the National Anthem.

USC basketball team members walk on-court for the Lisa Leslie ceremony.

Lisa Leslie holds up one of the gold-dipped shoes she was presented.

Leslie’s longtime friend, the legendary Dawn Staley, was on hand for the ceremony.

Leslie hugs all of her teammates, including Noelle Quinn.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Leslie hug after his words about her.

Leslie and the crowd pause to watch a video tribute to her.

The second quarter saw Minnesota go on a 15-2 run until under four minutes to play, when Leslie finally put up 2.

I really like CP’s hair this way.

The Lynx on offense in the fourth quarter. I dislike when teams mix it up and put themselves in front of the opponent’s basket on offense for the second half.

Shannon Bobbitt vs. Rene Montgomery, but check out Leslie streaking up the right side. Not bad for 37, I have to admit.

The house, completely packed, stood and applauded when Leslie came out of the game for the last time.

Sparks co-owner Kathy Goodman takes the mic for opening remarks at the after-party as co-owner Carla Christofferson and new baby, Coach Michael Cooper and GM Penny Toler look on.

Vanessa Hayden speaks while Bobbitt, Marie Ferdinand-Harris, Quinn and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton wait their turn.

Larry Burnett interviews Bobbitt, who received a very warm welcome from the crowd when introduced.

Leslie dipped into the party for about a minute (literally), then left with apologies: “I’m sorry, you guys – I’m exhausted.”

C. Vivian Stringer inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame

The longtime coach received the honor today, along with that Jordan guy. Good picks.

Catching up with Pat Summitt

The legendary coach mentions just about everyone in this piece.

Sparks 76, Silver Stars 68

All the Sparks’ spirited comebacks made last night’s game fun to watch. Each time LA fell behind by 6 or 8, they stopped things before they got out of hand. It was a good team effort overall, although I wish Marie Ferdinand-Harris had played.

Candace Parker’s one-handed put-back was the play of the day on wnba.com, to the surprise of no one who was at the game. It was quite something to behold, but it is CP after all.

One non-game note: as I walked up to the Staples Center entrance before the game, I came up behind a tall guy surrounded by a small group of fans, just as one woman said, “are you ready for the Lakers?” I didn’t know who it was. But during the game they put the camera on Ron Artest, who was sitting courtside. I guess that was him outside.

There are a few Sparks players who I won’t name who don’t seem to be in a very good mood when they leave the floor, no matter what the game result. One athlete in particular used to look up at the fans, waving and smiling as she passed through the tunnel, but looks down now and never up. I hope she’s allright.

Friday’s game will be a tribute to retiring Lisa Leslie. But the Sparks better remember that it’s also Delisha Milton-Jones’ birthday.

Sophia Young misses a shot in the first quarter. It’s always great to see that happen.

You can’t see Betty Lennox’ legs anymore.

Vanessa Hayden doesn’t play anymore, but she’s sure fun to watch on the bench.

Here’s a sight you won’t see too much longer.

Noelle Quinn started at point last night and ran it pretty much the entire game.

The reaction after Lennox drove, scored and was fouled. Delisha Milton-Jones pumped her fist.

The ending five walk back out after the last timeout of the game.

In the closing seconds, the crowd was on its feet chanting.

Playoffs, people. Who woulda thunk it just a few weeks ago.

Volicious

First and foremost, a reliable source reports that Lady Vol Amber Gray is steadily recovering from the stroke she had in July due to a brain aneurysm. Her eye that had been drooping in now back to normal, and she is going to skip the fall semester at UT and begin school again in January. Good to hear this.

Yesterday I tried to post this piece about the Vols off-season last year, but couldn’t figure out how to create a hyperlink with the laptop I was using while out of town. The picture is what gets me. Notice how Pat Summitt isn’t wearing an angry expression. She has really evolved.

This LA Times Candace Parker story is about how she juggles work and motherhood, but that isn’t the part that got me. Exhibit 1: Lookit the kid’s hands! Huge! She will be palming the ball like momma by the time she walks into the first day of kindergarten. Exhibit 2: 15 hours of sleep per day during pregnancy and 12 a day during college? Good god. I haven’t slept that much since I was Lailaa’s age.

Well, well, well – Sparks to have a season ticket holder appreciation event

Check out the email I got this morning:

Dear Sue:

After Lisa’s Farewell Game presented by Nike on Friday, September 11, you are invited to a special MVP Appreciation Party at ESPN Zone at LA Live. Sparks players and coaches will be in attendance mingling with fans and playing games. Enjoy appetizers at 50% off (excludes Tailgate Platter) and a special hamburger, fries, drink and $10 game card for only $15! During the game, one lucky fan will have the opportunity to win a $1,200 ESPN Zone Experience in honor of Lisa’s 12-year career if he or she can sink a half-court shot! And don’t forget that the first 10,000 fans will receive a commemorative Nike t-shirt, so get to the game early!

‘Bout time!!

I will make sure to get my rest for Friday, so I can stay awake for this one.

WNBA news, and a tough young lady

Love this meaty piece about the Lynx’ Nicky Anosike finally getting her due as a player.

Finally, a retiring veteran is sent off properly, as Vickie Johnson was honored Tuesday in a ceremony. Check out the chronicle. The last line is right on the money:

“I love playing basketball. I love competing. It’s been eating right, staying in shape and praying.”

Angel McCoughtry picked up her second consecutive rookie of the month honor for August. People were thinking DeWanna Bonner was a shoo-in for ROY this year, but maybe not.

And on the up-and-coming front, Long Beach Poly point guard Ariya Crook-Williams overcame a heartbreaking year to show up big this summer. Among other achievements, she tried out for the U16 team. I appreciate tough people – especially when they’re kids.

Catching up

Apparently, there is towel kid abuse in the WNBA.

Childhood homies Ashley Walker and Courtney Paris will play for the same team in Israel this winter.

And some fans on rebkell claim Kelly Miller has always been a crybaby, which is why she was in tears during last night’s game.

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