The hottest woman to hit Los Angeles in the last few weeks is not an actress. She's 6'4" Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks, the number one draft pick by way of the University of Tennessee.
Parker is being pushed as the savior of the WNBA, and, as she joins returning superstar Lisa Leslie, she may help bring Los Angeles a second basketball championship this year--assuming the Lakers go all the way.
The Los Angeles Times says, "Parker's potential significance to her sport is similar to what Andre Agassi meant to tennis. Agassi came along when his sport, in this country, was in the doldrums.
With his distinctive skill and charisma, he became the cornerstone for a comeback, but he couldn't have done it alone. He needed a passel of gifted rivals such as Pete Sampras. Same will prove true for Parker."
The WNBA overall had a good year last year (the Sparks didn't), and the playoffs set an attendance record--averaging 10,000 a game. A new players' contract in January raises minimum and maximum salaries.
But the minimum for a rookie is still only $34,500, and no player can make more than $95,000. Attendance is only about half what NBA games get, but salaries are more like a tenth. John Wooden is reported to say he likes women's basketball better because it's more "pure," but after 12 years, the league is still not profitable.
But it hasn't died, either.
One of the most amazing things about the Sparks is off the court. It's owned by two women who didn't inherit the team--they bought it with $10 million they raised on their own. And they've never run a sports team in their lives, but they both love the Sparks.
Carla Christofferson is a high-powered attorney and Kathy Goodman is a teacher living off the profits she made selling an independent film company. They met over a lawsuit, bonded over basketball, and are disproving the myth that successful women can't work together. Goodman is the quiet one and prefers the fuss to be "all about Carla." So watch the video clip. ( An agreement with the WNBA allows us to keep the video in the blog through May 31st.)