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EL SEGUNDO- Los Angeles Sparks' center and three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie has signed a multi-year contract, it was announced by General Manager Penny Toler. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"I'm thrilled Lisa will be back playing for the Sparks," Toler said. "She is a leader on the court and in the community and her involvement with the Sparks is immeasurable."
Leslie, a six-time WNBA All-Star, was assigned to the Sparks in 1997 at the inception of the league. She has averaged 17.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game as a starter in 307 regular season games and 40 playoff games. Leslie has helped the Sparks to two WNBA Championship titles. The WNBA has named her MVP three times (2001, 2004, 2006), WNBA Championship MVP twice (2001, 2002), and All-Star game MVP three times (1999, 2001, 2002).
"I began my WNBA career in Los Angeles 10 seasons ago and I'm thrilled to continue to play here," Leslie said.
"There is nowhere else I'd rather be, and I'm looking forward to the seasons to come!"
In 2001, Leslie was the first player to garner MVP of the regular season, Championship and All-Star games. In the same year, Leslie became the first WNBA player to dunk in a regular-season game. She followed this highlight up in 2005 as the first WNBA player to dunk in an All-Star game. She is a seven-time All-WNBA first team selection and was named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.
In 2006, her 10th season, Leslie ranked first in total double-doubles (17), first in total defensive rebounds (240), and third in points per game (20). She became the first WNBA player to reach the 5,000 career point milestone that year. Adding to her third WNBA MVP trophy, Leslie was named to the WNBA's All-Defensive and All-Decade teams.
In addition to her impressive career in the WNBA, Leslie has represented the United States as a starting center for the USA Basketball team. She led her teams to three Olympic gold medals (1996, 2000, 2004), as well as bringing home gold in the World Championships (1998, 2002), U.S. Olympic Cup (1999), Goodwill Games (1994), and the World University Games (1991).
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Leslie holds the record for most career points (2,414) rebounds (1,214), and blocked shots (321). She was named to the All-Pac-10 team four times (1991-1994), and was a three-time All-American, winning the Naismith National Player of the Year award in 1994.
A Southern California native, Leslie attended Inglewood Morningside High School where she once scored 101 points in the first half of a game.
Leslie will not play for the Sparks during the 2007 season, as she and her husband, Michael Lockwood, are expecting their first child this summer.
The Sparks open the 2007 season in Chicago when they play the Sky on May 22. The Sparks will take on the Minnesota Lynx for their home opener on June 8 at STAPLES Center. For season ticket information, call (877) 44-SPARKS.