Basketball legend Lisa Leslie will be the 11th statue outside of the famous Staples Center in California and the first woman ever honored with a bust. Leslie’s statue will also be the first of a WNBA player outside of a team’s home arena.
Leslie has a long and successful history in the WNBA. She was drafted to the Sparks in 1997 and played her entire career with the team through the 2009 campaign.
It’s no surprise Leslie was chosen; she has had many firsts. She was the first WNBA player to dunk in a game. She won three league MVPs, two championships, four Olympic gold medals and three All-Star Game MVPs during her incredible career. Leslie also was named to eight All-Star teams and 12 All-WNBA teams, including eight first-team selections.
There isn’t a specific date yet for when the statue will be erected, according to The Bleacher Report. Leslie’s statue will be alongside some of the other greatest names in basketball, for now, all men–Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Wayne Gretzky included.
Leslie has succeeded despite serious inequalities between the WNBA and the NBA’s salaries, which is echoed all over the country in the significant wage gap between men and women in every industry.
The WNBA pays about 20 percent of its revenue to its players–the NBA pays 50 percent to its players.The WNBA set the 2018 salary cap at $110,000, with the players’ median income coming in around $71,635.
WNBA players earn $450,000 less than a rookie NBA player, and even the best players in the WNBA can only expect small bonuses for performance, according to Altius Directory.
This is all despite the fact that in 2017, the WNBA registered its highest total attendance (1,574,078) and highest average attendance (7,716) since 2011. The WNBA has seen growth each year and is projected to for the coming decade.