Los Angeles -- Southern California women's basketball fans learned some good news today when WNBA President Laurel J. Richie announced that the WNBA and the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the purchase of the Los Angeles Sparks by an investment group led by Lakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson and controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mark R. Walter.
The investment group includes Dodger co-owners Todd L. Boehly, Robert L. Patton, and Stan Kasten.
“This is a great day for the city of Los Angeles and the Sparks,” said Johnson. “The leaders of this great city came together quickly to keep this franchise right where it belongs—in the city of Angels. Thanks to my sister, Evelyn, playing college basketball, I have a great appreciation of the talented players that represent the WNBA. Our group will now work together to bring our loyal fans another WNBA championship. ”
It was revealed several weeks ago that the team's previous ownership group had been operating at a loss and was forced to lay off its staff. That prompted concerns that the franchise could be relocated to a new city.
Fortunately, the franchise will remain in Los Angeles and will play at Staples Center. Even better, it will be owned by the same deep pockets ownership group that quickly resuscitated the Dodgers from the toxic effect of prior owner Frank McCourt.
“Earvin came to me and said we need to help save the Sparks and keep them in Los Angeles,” Walter said. “The decision was quite easy for our investment group due to the passion Magic has for this city, these great athletes and our phenomenal fans. This team and its great players should remain a part of the sports fabric of this wonderful city.”
If anyone can revive the Sparks, it is Magic and company. More importantly, the roster is filled with quality talent, including current WNBA MVP Candace Parker, and All-Stars Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver.
“We are thrilled to welcome Magic Johnson and Mark Walter to the WNBA,” said Richie. “With their proven track record in the business realm, their commitment to the city of Los Angeles through civic engagement, and their passion for the game of basketball, we look forward to partnering with our new owners to usher in a new era for this iconic team. This is a great day for Los Angeles, the Sparks franchise, its players, and of course, the loyal fans who have been so supportive of the team for 17 seasons.”
One of the league’s original eight teams, Los Angeles won the WNBA championship in 2001 and 2002, and is the last team to have earned titles in consecutive seasons. Los Angeles advanced to the Western Conference Finals in three of the past six seasons, most recently in 2012.
By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services